Page images
PDF
EPUB

And I hope that thy grave, wheresoever it be,
Will hear the wind sigh through the leaves of a tree.* (1803.

THE REVERIE OF POOR SUSAN. At the corner of Wood-Street, when daylight appears, Hangs a Thrush that sings loud, it has sung for three years: Poor Susan has pass'd by the spot, and has heard In the silence of morning the song of the Bird. 'Tis a note of enchantment; what ails her? She sees A mountain ascending, a vision of trees; Bright volumes of vapour through Lothbury glide, And a river flows on through the vale of Cheapside. Green pastures she views in the midst of the dale, Down which she so often has tripp'd with her pail; And a single small cottage, a nest like a dove's, The one only dwelling on Earth that she loves. She looks, and her heart is in Heaven: but they fade, The mist and the river, the hill and the shade: The stream will not flow, and the hill will not rise, And the colours have all pass'd away from her eyes! (1797.

THE TWO THIEVES:

OR, THE LAST STAGE OF AVARICE.S O, now that the genius of Bewick were mine, And the skill which he learn’d on the banks of the Tyne! Then the Muses might deal with me just as they chose, For I'd take my last leave both of verse and of prose. What feats would I work with my magical hand! Book-learning and books should be banish'd the land: And, for hunger and thirst and such troublesome calls, Every ale-house should then have a feast on its walls. The traveller would hang his wet clothes on a chair; Let them smoke, let them burn, not a straw would he care!

The Farmer of Tilsbury Vale is a charming counterpart to Poor Susan, with the addition of that delicacy towards aberrations from the strict path which is so fine in “the Old Thief and the Boy by his side,” which always brings water into my eyes.CHARLES LAMB. 5 This is described from the life, as I was in the habit of observing when a boy at Hawkshead School. Daniel was more than eighty years older than myself when he was daily, thus occupied, under my notice. No book could have so early taught me to think of the changes to which human life is subject; and while looking at him I could not but say to myself, “We may, one of us, I or the happiest of my playmates, live to become still more the object of pity than this old man, this half-doating pil ferer."- The Author's Notes.

For the Prodigal Son, Joseph's Dream and his sheaves,
0, what would they be to my my tale of two Thieves?
The One, yet unbreech’d, is not three birthdays old,
His Grandsire that age more than thirty times told;
There are ninety good seasons of fair and foul weather
Between them, and both go a-pilfering together.
With chips is the carpenter strewing his floor?
Is a cart-load of turf at an old woman's door?
Old Daniel his hand to the treasure will slide;
And his Grandson's as busy at work by his side.
Old Daniel begins; he stops short, and his eye,
Through the lost look of dotage, is cunning and sly:
'Tis a look which at this time is hardly his own,
But tells a plain tale of the days that are flown.
He once had a heart which was moved by the wires
Of manifold pleasures and many desires :
And what if he cherish'd his purse? 'twas no more
Than treading a path trod by thousands before.
'Twas a path trod by thousands; but Daniel is one
Who went something further than others have gone;
And now with old Daniel you see how it fares ;
You see to what end he has brought his grey hairs.
The pair sally forth hand in hand: ere the Sun
Has peerd o'er the beeches, their work is begun:
And yet, into whatever sin they may fall,
This child but half knows it, and that not at all.
They hunt through the streets with deliberate tread,
And each, in his turn, becomes leader or led;
And, wherever they carry their plots and their wiles,
Every face in the village is dimpled with smiles.
Neither check’d by the rich nor the needy they roam;
For the grey-headed Sire has a daughter at home,
Who will gladly repair all the damage that's done;
And three, were it ask'd, would be render'd for one.
Old Man, whom so oft I with pity have eyed,
I love thee, and love the sweet Boy at thy side:
Long yet may'st thou live! for a teacher we see
That lifts up the veil of our nature in thee.

[1800. POWER OF MUSIC. An Orpheus! an Orpheus! Yes, Faith may grow bold, And take to herself all the wonders of old; Near the stately Panthéon you'll meet with the same, In the street that from Oxford hath borrow'd its name. His station is there; and he works on the crowd, He sways them with harmony merry and loud; He fills with his power all their hearts to the brim, Was aught ever heard like his fiddle and him? What an eager assembly! what an empire is this! The weary have life, and the hungry have bliss; The mourner is cheer'd, and the anxious bave rest; And the guilt-burthen'd soul is no longer opprest. As the Moon brightens round her the clouds of the night, So He, where he stands, is a centre of light; It gleams on the face, there, of dusky-brow'd Jack, And the pale-visaged Baker's, with basket on back. That errand-bound 'Prentice was passing in haste, What matter! he's caught, and his time runs to waste; The Newsman is stopp'd, though he stops on the fret; And the half-breathless Lamplighter, he's in the net! The Porter sits down on the weight which he bore; The Lass with her barrow wheels hither her store;If a thief could be here he might pilfer at ease; She sees the Musician, 'tis all that she sees! He stands, back'd by the wall; - he abates not his din; His hat gives him vigour, with boons dropping in, From the old and the young, from the poorest; and there! The one-pennied Boy has his penny to spare. O, blest are the hearers, and proud be the hand Of the pleasure it spreads through so thankful a band; I am glad for him, blind as he is! - all the while If they speak, 'tis to praise, and they praise with a smile. That tall Man, a giant in bulk and in height, Not an inch of his body is free from delight; Can he keep himself still, if he would ? Ö, not he! The music stirs in him like wind through a tree. Mark that Cripple who leans on his crutch; like a tower That long has lean'd forward, leans hour after hour!

That Mother, whose spirit in fetters is bound,
While she dandles the Babe in her arms to the sound.
Now, coaches and chariots! roar on like a stream;
Here are twenty souls happy as souls in a dream:
They are deaf to your murmurs, they care not for you,
Nor what ye are flying, nor what ye pursue !

[1806

8

MISCELLANEOUS SONNETS.
Nuns fret not at their convent's narrow room;
And hermits are contented with their cells;
And students with their pensive citadels;
Maids at the wheel, the weaver at his loom,
Sit blithe and happy; bees that soar for bloom,
High as the highest Peak of Furness-fells,
Will murmur by the hour in foxglove bells:
In truth, the prison unto which we doom
Ourselves no prison is: and hence to me,
In sundry moods, 'twas pastime to be bound
Within the Sonnet's scanty plot of ground;
Pleased if some Souls, (for such there needs must be,)
Who've felt the weight of too much liberty,
Should find brief solace there, as I have found.

ADMONITION. WELL mayst thou halt, and gaze with brightening eye! The lovely Cottage in the guardian nook Hath stirr'd thee deeply; with its own dear brook, Its own small pasture, almost its own sky. But covet not th’Abode: forbear to sigh, As many do, repining while they look; Intruders, who would tear from Nature's book This precious leaf, with harsh impiety. Think what the Home must be if it were thine, Even thine, though few thy wants! Roof, window, door, The very flowers are sacred to the Poor, The roses to the porch which they entwine: Yea, all that now enchants thee, from the day On which it should be touch’d, would melt away.

“ BELOVED VALE!” I said, “when I shall con Those many records of my childish years,

6 Fell is a provincial term for a barren or a stony hill.

Remembrance of myself and of my peers
Will press me down: to think of what is gone
Will be an awful thought, if life have one."
But, when into the Vale I came, no fears
Distress'd me; from mine eyes escaped no tears;
Deep thought, or dread remembrance, had I none.
By doubts and thousand petty fancies crost
I stood, of simple shame the blushing Thrall;
So narrow seem'd the brooks, the fields so small !
A Juggler's balls old Time about him toss'd;
I look’d, I stared, I smiled, I laugh’d; and all
The weight of sadness was in wonder lost.

1801.
PELION and Ossa flourish side by side,
Together in immortal books enrollid:
His ancient dower Olympus hath not sold;
And that inspiring Hill

, which “ did divide
Into two ample horns his forehead wide," ?
Shines with poetic radiance as of old;
While not an English Mountain we behold
By the celestial Muses glorified.
Yet round our sea-girt shore they rise in crowds:
What was the great Parnassus' self to Thee,
Mount Skiddaw? In his natural sovereignty
Our British Hill is nobler far: he shrouds
His double front among Atlantic clouds,
And pours forth streams more sweet than Castaly.8

THERE is a little unpretending Rill
Of limpid water, humbler far than aught
That ever among Men or Naiads sought
Notice or name!

— It quivers down the hill,
Furrowing its shallow way with dubious will ;
Yet to my mind this scanty Stream is brought
Oftener than Ganges or the Nile; a thought
Of private recollection sweet and still!
Months perish with their moons; year treads on year ;
But, faithful Emma, thou with me canst say"
That, while ten thousand pleasures disappear,

And flies their memory fast almost as they; ? Alluding to Mount Parnassus, which throws up, two peaks to a conspicuous height, and hence is often described by the poets as double-headed. It was one of the chief seats of Apollo and the Muses. 8 Castalia, a celebrated fountain on Mount Parnassus, sacred to Apollo and the

Muses.

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »