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Thick lay the dust, uncomfortably white,
In glaring mimicry of Arab sands.
The woods and mountains slept in hazy light;
The meadows look'd athirst and tawny tann'd;
The little rills had left their channels bare,
With scarce a pool to witness what they were ;
And the shrunk river gleam'd ʼmid oozy stones,
That stared like any famish'd giant's bones.
Sudden the hills grew black, and hot as stove
The air beneath ; it was a toil to be.
There was a growling as of angry Jove,
Provoked by Juno's prying jealousy-
A flash—a crash—the firmament was split,
And down it came in drops—the smallest fit
To drown a bee in fox-glove bell conceald ;
Joy fill'd the brook, and comfort cheer'd the field.
ON HIS SEVENTY-FIFTH BIRTHDAY.
HAPPY the year, the month, that finds alive
A worthy man in health at seventy-five.
Were he a man no further known than loved,
And but for unremember'd deeds approved,
A gracious boon it were from God to earth
To leave that good man by his humble hearth.
But if the man be one whose virtuous youth,
Loving all Nature, was in love with truth ;
And with the fervour of religious duty
Sought in all shapes the very form of beauty ;-
Feeling the current of the tuneful strain,
Joy in his heart, and light upon his brain,
Knew that the gift was given, and not in vain ;
Whose careful manhood never spared to prune
What the rash growth of youth put forth too soon ;
Too wise to be ashamed to grow more wise ;
Culling the truth from specious fallacies :-
Then may the world rejoice to find alive
So good, so great a man, at seventy-five.
WRITTEN AT BELLE-VUE, AMBLESIDE.
STILL is it there, the same soft quiet scene,
Which, whether sodden with importunate rain,
Or sprinkled with the yellow sun, that pours
Columnal brightness through the fissured clouds
Of autumn eve, or, e'en as now display'd,
In the full brightness of the argent moon,
Is yet the same, the same beloved scene,
Which neither time nor change shall wipe away
From the capacious memory of the soul.
Oh blessed faculty of inward sight,
Safe from disease and mortal accident
As love itself, secure from dull caprice
Of prohibition! Blind Mæonides,
That, wandering by the myriad-sounding sea,
Saw not his footsteps on the passive beach,
Nor saw, alas ! the many beauteous eyes
That gleam'd with gladness at his potent song,
Had yet a world of beauty-verdant hills,
Bright with the infinite motion of their leaves ;
Close-vested towers in olive-groves embower'd,
Whence the gold-cinctured dove for ever coo'd,
Wide-laughing ocean, rich with southern gleam
Purpureal, jewell'd with a hundred isles,
Or roused indignant from its slumberous depths
To smite the long-presumptuous rampart, piled
Without a prayer ;-Achilles vast, reclined,
Listening afar the tumults of the field ;-
Sweet Helen, sad amidst her loveliness,
Taming her once glad motions to the halt
Of Priam, leaning on her rounded arm ;-
Pelides, glittering like an evil star ;-
Or love-struck Hecuba, when first she wept
O’er the new-ransom'd carcase of her best,
Her fate-devoted Hector.
So, if HE
Who in his judgments is for ever good,
Should make the brightest noon a night to me,
Yet will those fields, those lowly heaving hills,
That roving river, that pure inland lake,
And those neat dwellings that assure my heart
That not alone I love and linger here,
Abide the heir-looms of my inner life,
As sweet, as vivid to my happier dreams,
As when through tears I saw her snatch'd away.
WHEN English lords and Scottish chiefs were foes,
Stern on the angry confines Naworth rose;
In dark woods islanded its towers look'd forth,
And frown'd defiance to the growling North ;
With donjon-keep and long embattled wall,
Portcullis, portal, and wide-echoing hall,
Where erst the warrior carved in gloves of steel,
And the stone pavement clang’d with iron heel.
The very type was Naworth of a time
Whose sins and woes by age are made sublime.
There came the vagrant minstrel-not in vain,
For ladies loved, and lords repaid his strain.
What though his song was oft of loves unholy,
And fights,-fantastic brood of restless folly?
What though the plaudits, clatter'd on the stones,
Bemock'd and deafen’d the poor captive's groans,
Doom'd in sad durance pining to abide
The long delay of hope from Solway's further side ?