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Hidden was Grasmere Vale from sight, Long as these mighty rocks erdure,
Although deserving of all good,
On any earthly hope, however pure! And he hath feeling of a day
(1805. Of blessedness to come.
[Composed at Grasmere, during a walk Full soon in sorrow did I weep,
one Evening, after a stormy day, the
Author having just read in a Newspaper Taught that the mutual hope was dust, —
that the dissolution of Mr. Fox was In sorrow, but for higher trust,
hourly expected.] How miserably deep!
LOUD is the Vale! the Voice is up All vanish'd in a single word,
With which she speaks when storms are A breath, a sound, and scarcely heard. A mighty unison of streams! [gone, Sea-- Ship - drown'd-Shipwreck – so it Of all her Voices, One! came;
Loud is the Vale;- this inland Depth The meek, the brave, the good, was gone;
In peace is roaring like the Sea; He who had been our living John
Yun star upon the mountain-top Was nothing but a name.
Is listening quietly. That was indeed a parting! O,
Sad was I, even to pain deprest,
Importunate and heavy load!
Upon this lonely road;
And many thousands now are sad,
Wait the fulfilment of their fear; Like these, there comes a mild release;
For he must lie who is their stay,
Their glory disappear.
A Power is passing from the Earth
To breathless Nature's dark abyss;
That Man, who is from God sent forth, Beside our Parting-place;
Doth yet again to God return? -
4. The poet repeatedly celebrates the Spangling a cushion green like moss;
virtues and the sad death of his brother
John. In letter to his friend Sir George But we will see it, joyful tide!
Beaumont, dated March 12, 1805, he makes Some day, to see it in its pride,
the following reflections, starter by th:at The mountain will we cross.”
event: “Why have we sympathies that make the best of us so afraid of inflict
ing pain and sorrow, which yet we see Brother and friend, if verse of mine dealt about so lavishly by the supreme Have power to make thy virtues known, Governor? Why should our notions of Here let a monumental Stone
right towards each other, and to all sen
tient beings within our influence, differ Stand, - sacred as a Shrine;
so widely from what appears to be His And to the few who pass this way,
notion and rule, if everything were to end
here? Would it not be blasphemy to say Traveller or Shepherd, let it say,
that, upon the supposition of the think.
ing principl2 being destroyed by death, how. 3 The plant alluded to is the Moss ever inferior we may be to the Cause and Campion. This most beautiful plant is Ruler of things, we have more of love in scarce in England, though it is found in our nature than He has? The thought is great abundance upon the mountains of monstrous; and yet how to get rid of it, Scotland. The first specimen I ever saw except upon the supposition of another of it, in its native bed, was singularly and a better world, I do not see. As to fine, the tuft or cushion being at least my departed brother, who leads our minds eight inches in diameter, and the root at present to these reflections, he walked proportionably thick.
all his life pure among many impurc.."
Such ebb and flow must ever be,
As snowdrop on an infant's grave, Then wherefore should we mourn? (1806. Or lily heaving with the wave
That feeds it and defends;
As Vesper, ere the star hath kiss'd
The mountain-top, or breathed the mist (Addresseed to Sir G. H. B. upon the death That from the vale ascends. of his Sister-in-law.)
Thou takest not away, O Death!
Indifference is no more;
The future brightens on our sight; A garland of immortal boughs
For on the past hath fallen a light To twine around the Christian's brows,
That tempts us to adore.5
[1824. Whose glorious work is done.
We pay a high and holy debt;
EXTEMPORE EFFUSION UPON THE DEATH No tears of passionate regret
OF JAMES HOGG. Shall stain this votive lay:
WHEN first, descending from the moor. Ill-worthy, Beaumont! were the grief
lands, That flings itself on wild relief
I saw the Stream of Yarrow glide When Saints have pass'd away.
Along a bare and open valley,
The Ettrick Shepherd was my guide. Sad doom, at Sorrow's shrine to kneel, For ever covetous to feel,
When last along its banks I wander'd, And impotent to bear!
Thro' groves that had begun to shed Such once was hers, – to think and think Their golden leaves upon the pathways, On sever'd love, and only sink
My steps the Border-minstrel led.7 From anguish to despair!
The mighty Minstrel breathes no longer,
Mid mouldering ruins low he lies; 8 But nature to its inmost part
And death upon the braes of Yarrow Faith had refined; and to her heart
Has closed the Shepherd-poet's eyes: 9 A peaceful cradle given: Calm as the dew-drop's, free to rest
5 This lady (Mrs. Frances Fermor) had Within a breeze-fann'd rose's breast been a widow loug before I knew her. Till it exhales to Heaven.
Her husband was of the family of the lady celebrated in The Rape of the Lock.
The sorrow which his death caused her Was ever Spirit that could bend
was fearful in its character as described So graciously? - that could descend, in this poem, but was subdued in course Another's need to suit,
of time by the strength of her religious
faith. I have been, for many weeks at a So promptly from her lofty throne? – time, an inmate with her at Coleorton In works of love, in these alone,
Hall, as were also Mrs. Wordsworth and How restless, how minute!
my sister. The truth in the sketch of her character here given was acknowl.
edged with gratitude by her nearest relaPale was her hue; yet mortal cheek tives. She was eloquent in conversation, Ne'er kindled with a livelier streak energetic upon public matters, open in When aught had suffer'd wrong,
respect to those, but slow to communicate
her personal feelings; upon these she When aught that breathes had felt a never touched in her intercourse with wound;
me, so that I could not regard myself as Snch look th' Oppressor might confound, ingly surprised when I learnt she had
her confidential friend, and was accord. However proud and strong.
left me a legacy of £100 as a token of her
esteem. - Author's Notes, 1813. But hush'd by every thought that springs
6 Alluding to the occasion of the poem
Yarrow Visited. See page 165From out the bitterness of things;
7 Alluding to the occasion of the poein Her quiet is secure:
Yarrow Revisited. See page 167, note 10. No thorns can pierce her tender feet,
8 Sir Walter Scott died Sept. 21, 1832.
9 James Hogg, long and widely-disWhose life was, like the violet, sweet,
tinguished at "the Ettrick Shepherd," As climbing jasmine, pure;
died in November, 1835.
Nor has the rolling year twice measured, on which with thee, O Crabbe! forthFrom sign to sign, its steadfast course,
looking, Since every mortal power of Coleridge I gazed from Hampstead's breezy heath. Was frozen at its marvellous source; 1
As if but yesterday departed, The rapt One, of the godlike forehead,
Thou too art gone before; 8 but why, The heaven-eyed creature sleeps in earth:
O’er ripe fruit, seasonably gather'd
Should frail survivors heave a sigh?
Mourn rather for that holy Spirit, Like clouds that rake the mountain-sum- For Her who, ere her summer faded,
Sweet as the Spring, as ocean deep,
Has sunk into a breathless sleep.4
For slaughter'd Youth or love-lorn Maid!
With sharper grief is Yarrow smitten, Yet I, whose lids from infant slumber And Ettrick mourns with her their Poet Were earlier raised, remain to hear
[Nov., 1835. A timid voice, that asks in whispers, “Who next will drop and disappear?" 3 The Rev. George Crabbe died Feb.
4 Alluding to Mrs. Felicia Hemans, Our haughty life is crown'd with dark. who died May 16, 1835.
5 These verses were written extemness, Like London with its own black wreath, of the Ettrick Shepherd's death, in the
pore, immediately after reading a notice Newcastle paper, to the Editor of which
I sent a copy for publication. The per1 Samuel Taylor Coleridge died July sons lamented in these verses were all 25, 1834.
either of my friends or acquaintances. 2 Charles Lamb died Dec. 27, 1834. Author's Notes, 1843.
PAINTED BY SIR GEORGE BEAUMONT.
I would have planted thee, thou hoary Pile
-'tis so no more;
The lightning, the fierce wind, and trampling waves. 6. Throughout this piece, again, the feeling uppermost in the poet's mind is sorrow at the death of his brother. In one of his summer vacations while in college, he had spent four weeks in the neighbourhood of Peele Castle; and all that time the waters had remained perfectly unruMed and smooth, never ceasing to image in their depths the Castle standing near; and now a picture of the place, with the sea heaving under a mighty storm, - the same sea which had been so calm and still, that it seemed to him “the gentlest of all gentle Things," - only reminds him of his brother's fate, and, from the fierce contrast, impresses him with a deeper sense of the terrible might which had slumbered so sweetly before his eye.
Farewell, farewell the heart that lives alone,
WRITTEN AFTER THE DEATH OF CHARLES
To a good Man of most dear memory
With books, or while he ranged the crowded streets 7. This is justly regarded as one of the author's noblest and most characteristic pieces. Jardly any of them has been oftener quoted, or drawn forth more or stronger notes of admiration. Perhaps the higher function of Poetry has never been better expressed than in the last half of the fourth stanza. The author's private correspondence at the time shows that the shaping and informing spirit of the piece was not a thing assumed for any purpose of art. In a letter to a friend, dated March 16, 1805, he wrote as follows: "For myself, I feel that there is something cut out of my life which cannot be restored. I never thought of him but with hope and delight: we looked forward to the time, not distant, as we thought, when he would settle near us, when the task of his life would be over, and he would have nothing to do but reap his reward. I never wrote a line without a thought of its giving him pleasure: my writings, printed and manuscript, were his delight, and one of the chief solaces of his long voyages. But I will not be cast down; were it only for his sake, I will not be clejected: and I hope, when I shall be able to think of him with a calmer mind, that the remembrance of him dead will even animate me n:ore than the joy which I had in him living.”
8 Light will be thrown upon the tragic circumstance alluded to in this poem, when, after the death of Charles Lamb's Sister, his biographer, Mr. Sergeant Tal. fourd, shall be at liberty to relate particulars which could not, at the time his Memoir was written, be given to the public. Mary Lamb was ten years older than her brother, and has survived him as long a time. Were I to give way to my own feel. ings, I should dwell not only on her genius and intellectual power, but upon the delicacy and refinement of manner which she maintained inviolable under the most trying circumstances. She was loved and honoured by all her brother's friends; and others, some of them strange characters, whom his philanthropic peculiarities induced him to countenance. The death of Charles Lamb himself was doubtless hastened by his sorrow for that of Coleridge, to whom he had been attached from the time of their being school-fellows at Christ's Hospital. Lamb was a good Latin scholar, and probably
would have gone to college upon one of the school foundations but for the impediment in his speech. - Author's Notes, 1843.