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THE IDLE SHEPHERD-BOYS;.

OR, DUNGEON-GHYLL FORCE1
A PASTORAL

The valley rings with mirth and joy;

Among the hills the echoes play

A never never ending song,

To welcome in the May.

The magpie chatters with delight;

The mountain raven's youngling brood

Have left the mother and the nest;

And they go rambling east and west

In search of their own food;

Or through the glittering vapours dart

In very wantonness of heart.

Beneath a rock, upon the grass,
Two boys are sitting in the sun;
Their work, if any work they have,
Is out of mind, or done.
On pipes of sycamore they play
The fragments of a Christmas hymn;
Or with that plant which in our dale
We call stag-horn, or fox's tail,
Their rusty hats they trim:
And thus, as happy as the day,
Those Shepherds wear the time away.

Along the river's stony marge
The sand-lark chants a joyous song;
The thrush is busy in the wood,
And carols loud and strong.

1 Ghyll, in the dialect of Cumberland and Westmoreland, is a short and, for the most part, a steep narrow valley, with a stream running through it. Force is the word universally employed in these dialects for waterfall,

A thousand lambs are on the rocks,
All newly born! both earth and sky
Keep jubilee, and, more than all,
Those boys with their green coronal;
They never hear the cry,
That plaintive cry! which up the hill
Comes from the depth of Dungeon-Ghyll.

Said Walter, leaping from the ground,
"Down to the stump of yon old yew
We'll for our whistles run a race."

Away the shepherds flew;

They leapt, they ran, and when they came
Right opposite to Dungeon-Ghyll,
Seeing that he should lose the prize,
"Stop !" to his comrade Walter cries.
James stopped with no good will:
Said Walter then, "Your task is here,
'Twill baffle you for half a year.

"Cross, if you dare, where I shall cross;

Come on, and tread where I shall tread."

The other took him at his word,

And followed as he led.

It was a spot which you may see

If ever you to Langdale go;

Into a chasm a mighty block

Hath fallen, and made a bridge of rock:

The gulf is deep below;

And, in a basin black and small,

Receives a lofty waterfall.

With staff in hand across the cleft
The challenger pursued his march;
And now. all eyes and feet, hath gained
The middle of the arch.
When list! he hears a piteous moan;
Again! his heart within him dies;
His pulse is stopped, his breath is lost,
He totters, pallid as a ghost,

And, looking down, espies

A lamb, that in the pool is pent

Within that black and frightful rent.

The lamb had slipped into the stream,

And safe without a bruise or wound

The cataract had borne him down

Into the gulf profound.

His dam had seen him when he fell,

She saw him down the torrent borne;

And, while with all a mother's love

She from the lofty rocks above

Sent forth a cry forlorn,

The lamb, still swimming round and round,

Made answer to that plaintive sound.

When he had learnt what thing it was,

That sent this rueful cry, I ween

The boy recovered heart, and told

The sight which he had seen.

Both gladly now deferred their task;

Nor was there wanting other aid.

A poet—one who loves the brooks

Far better than the sages' books—

By chance had thither strayed;

And there the helpless lamb he found

By those huge rocks encompassed round.

He drew it from the troubled pool,

And brought it forth into the light:

The shepherds met him with his charge,

An unexpected sight!

Into their arms the lamb they took,

Whose life and limbs the flood had spared;

Then up the steep ascent they hied,

And placed him at his mother's side;

And gently did the bard

Those idle shepherd-boys upbraid,

And bade them better mind their trade.

TO H. C.

SIX YEARS OLD

O Thou! whose fancies from afar are brought;

Who of thy words dost make a mock apparel,

And fittest to unutterable thought

The breeze-like motion and the self-born carol;

Thou faery voyager! that dost float

In such clear water, that thy boat

May rather seem

To brood on air than on an earthly stream;

Suspended in a stream as clear as sky,

Where earth and heaven do make one imagery;

0 blessed vision! happy child! Thou art so exquisitely wild,

1 think of thee with many fears

For what may be thy lot in future years.

I thought of times when pain might be thy guest, Lord of thy house and hospitality; And grief, uneasy lover! never rest But when she sate within the touch of thee. O too industrious folly! O vain and causeless melancholy! Nature will either end thee quite; Or, lengthening out thy season of delight, Preserve for thee, by individual right, A young lamb's heart among the full-grown flocks. What hast thou to do with sorrow, Or the injuries of to-morrow? Thou art a dew-drop, which the morn brings forth, 111 fitted to sustain unkindly shocks, Or to be trailed along the soiling earth; A gem that glitters while it lives, And no forewarning gives; But, at the touch of wrong, without a strife Slips in a moment out of life.

THE LONGEST DAY

ADDRESSED TO MY DAUGHTER, DORA

Let Us quit the leafy arbour,
And the torrent murmuring by;
For the sun is in his harbour,
Weary of the open sky.

Evening now unbinds the fetters
Fashioned by the glowing light;
All that breathe are thankful debtors
To the harbinger of night.

Yet by some grave thoughts attended
Eve renews her calm career;
For the day that now is ended
Is the longest of the year.


Dora! sport, as now thou sportest,
On this platform, light and free;
Take thy bliss, while longest, shortest,
Are indifferent to thee!

Who would check the happy feeling
That inspires the linnet's song?
Who would stop the swallow, wheeling
On her pinions swift and strong?

Yet, at this impressive season,
Words which tenderness can speak
From the truths of homely reason
Might exalt the loveliest cheek;

And, while shades to shades succeeding
Steal the landscape from the sight,
I would urge this moral pleading,
Last forerunner of "good night!"

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