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Of the Poems in this class, "THE EVENING WALK" and "DESCRIPTIVE SKETCHES" were first published in 1793. They are reprinted with some alterations that were chiefly made very soon after their publication.
This notice, which was written some time ago, scarcely applies to the Poem, "Descriptive Sketches," as it now stands. The corrections, though numerous, are not, however, such as to prevent its retaining with propriety a place in the class of Juvenile Pieces.
FROM THE CONCLUSION OF A POEM, COMPOSED IN ANTI
CIPATION OF LEAVING SCHOOL.
DEAR native regions, I foretell,
From what I feel at this farewell,
That, wheresoe'er my steps may tend,
And whensoe'er my course shall end,
If in that hour a single tie
Survive of local sympathy,
My soul will cast the backward view,
The longing look alone on you.
Thus, while the Sun sinks down to rest
Far in the regions of the west,
Though to the vale no parting beam
Be given, not one memorial gleam,
A lingering light he fondly throws
On the dear hills where first he rose.
CALM is all nature as a resting wheel.
The kine are couched upon the dewy grass;
The horse alone, seen dimly as I pass,
Is cropping audibly his later meal :
Dark is the ground; a slumber seems to steal
O'er vale, and mountain, and the starless sky.
Now, in this blank of things, a harmony,
Home-felt, and home-created, comes to heal
That grief for which the senses still supply
Fresh food; for only then, when memory
Is hushed, am I at rest. My Friends ! restrain
Those busy cares that would allay my pain ;
Oh! leave me to myself, nor let me feel
The officious touch that makes me droop again.
FAR from my dearest Friend, 'tis mine to rove
Through bare grey dell, high wood, and pastoral cove;
Where Derwent rests, and listens to the roar
That stuns the tremulous cliffs of high Lodore;
Where peace to Grasmere's lonely island leads,
To willowy hedge-rows, and to emerald meads;
Leads to her bridge, rude church, and cottaged
Her rocky sheepwalks, and her woodland bounds;
Where, undisturbed by winds, Winander sleeps
'Mid clustering isles, and holly-sprinkled steeps ;
Where twilight glens endear my Esthwaite's shore,
And memory of departed pleasures, more.
Fair scenes, erewhile, I taught, a happy child,
The echoes of your rocks my carols wild :
The spirit sought not then, in cherished sadness,
A cloudy substitute for failing gladness.
In youth's keen eye the livelong day was bright,
The sun at morning, and the stars at night,
Alike, when first the bittern's hollow bill
Was heard, or woodcocks+ roamed the moonlight
In thoughtless gaiety I coursed the plain, And hope itself was all I knew of pain; For then, the inexperienced heart would beat At times, while young Content forsook her seat, And wild Impatience, pointing upward, showed, Through passes yet unreached, a brighter road. Alas! the idle tale of man is found Depicted in the dial's moral round; Hope with reflection blends her social rays To gild the total tablet of his days;
Yet still, the sport of some malignant power, He knows but from its shade the present hour.
* These lines are only applicable to the middle part of that lake.
+ In the beginning of winter, these mountains are frequented by woodcocks, which in dark nights retire into the woods.
But why, ungrateful, dwell on idle pain? To show what pleasures yet to me remain, Say, will my Friend, with unreluctant ear, The history of a poet's evening hear!
When, in the south, the wan noon, brooding still, Breathed a pale steam around the glaring hill, And shades of deep-embattled clouds were seen, Spotting the northern cliffs with lights between ; When crowding cattle, checked by rails that make A fence far stretched into the shallow lake, Lashed the cool water with their restless tails, Or from high points of rock looked out for fanning gales ;
When school-boys stretched their length upon the
And round the broad-spread oak, a glimmering
In the rough fern-clad park, the herded deer
Shook the still-twinkling tail and glancing ear;
When horses in the sunburnt intake* stood,
And vainly eyed below the tempting flood,
Or tracked the passenger, in mute distress,
With forward neck the closing gate to press-
Then, while I wandered where the huddling rill
Brightens with water-breaks the hollow ghyll†
As by enchantment, an obscure retreat
Opened at once, and stayed my devious feet.
While thick above the rill the branches close,
In rocky basin its wild waves repose,
Inverted shrubs, and moss of gloomy green,
Cling from the rocks, with pale wood-weeds be-
And its own twilight softens the whole scene,
Save where aloft the subtle sunbeams shine
On withered briars that o'er the crags recline;
Save where, with sparkling foam, a small cascade,
Illumines, from within, the leafy shade ;
Beyond, along the vista of the brook,
Where antique roots its bustling course o'erlook,
The eye reposes on a secret bridge‡
Half grey, half shagged with ivy to its ridge;
There, bending o'er the stream, the listless swain
Lingers behind his disappearing wain.
-Did Sabine grace adorn my living line,
Blandusia's praise, wild stream, should yield to
The word intake is local, and signifies a mountaininclosure.
† Ghyll is also, I believe, a term confined to this country: ghyll, and dingle, have the same meaning.
The reader who has made the tour of this country, will recognise, in this description, the features which characterise the lower waterfall in the grounds of Rydal.
Never shall ruthless minister of death
'Mid thy soft glooms the glittering steel unsheath;
No goblets shall, for thee, be crowned with flowers,
No kid with piteous outcry thrill thy bowers;
The mystic shapes that by thy margin rove
A more benignant sacrifice approve―
A mind, that, in a calm angelic mood
Of happy wisdom, meditating good,
Beholds, of all from her high powers required,
Much done, and much designed, and more desired,
Harmonious thoughts, a soul by truth refined,
Entire affection for all human kind.
Dear Brook, farewell! To-morrow's noon again Shall hide me, wooing long thy wildwood strain; But now the sun has gained his western road, And eve's mild hour invites my steps abroad.
While, near the midway cliff, the silvered kite In many a whistling circle wheels her flight; Slant watery lights, from parting clouds, apace Travel along the precipice's base; Cheering its naked waste of scattered stone, By lichens grey, and scanty moss, o'ergrown; Where scarce the foxglove peeps, or thistle's beard; And restless stone-chat, all day long, is heard.
How pleasant, as the sun declines, to view
The spacious landscape change in form and hue!
Here, vanish, as in mist, before a flood
Of bright obscurity, hill, lawn, and wood;
There, objects, by the searching beams betrayed,
Come forth, and here retire in purple shade;
Even the white stems of birch, the cottage white,
Soften their glare before the mellow light;
The skiffs, at anchor where with umbrage wide
Yon chestnuts half the latticed boat-house hide,
Shed from their sides, that face the sun's slant beam,
Strong flakes of radiance on the tremulous stream:
Raised by yon travelling flock, a dusty cloud
Mounts from the road, and spreads its moving
The shepherd, all involved in wreaths of fire,
Now shows a shadowy speck, and now is lost entire.
Into a gradual calm the breezes sink, A blue rim borders all the lake's still brink; There doth the twinkling aspen's foliage sleep, And insects clothe, like dust, the glassy deep: And now, on every side, the surface breaks Into blue spots, and slowly lengthening streaks; Here, plots of sparkling water tremble bright With thousand thousand twinkling points of light; There, waves that, hardly weltering, die away,
Tip their smooth ridges with a softer ray;
And now the whole wide lake in deep repose
Is hushed, and like a burnished mirror glows,
Save where, along the shady western marge,
Coasts, with industrious oar, the charcoal barge.
Their panniered train a group of potters goad,
Winding from side to side up the steep road;
The peasant, from yon cliff of fearful edge
Shot, down the headlong path darts with his sledge;
Bright beams the lonely mountain-horse illume
Feeding 'mid purple heath, "green rings," and
While the sharp slope the slackened team confounds,
Downward the ponderous timber-wain resounds;
In foamy breaks the rill, with merry song,
Dashed o'er the rough rock, lightly leaps along ;
From lonesome chapel at the mountain's feet,
Three humble bells their rustic chime repeat;
Sounds from the water-side the hammered boat;
And blasted quarry thunders, heard remote !
Toil, small as pigmies in the gulf profound; Some, dim between the lofty cliffs descried, O'erwalk the slender plank from side to side; These, by the pale-blue rocks that ceaseless ring, In airy baskets hanging, work and sing.
Just where a cloud above the mountain rears
An edge all flame, the broadening sun appears;
A long blue bar its ægis orb divides,
And breaks the spreading of its golden tides;
And now that orb has touched the purple steep
Whose softened image penetrates the deep.
'Cross the calm lake's blue shades the cliffs aspire,
With towers and woods, a “prospect all on fire;"
While coves and secret hollows, through a ray
Of fainter gold, a purple gleam betray.
Each slip of lawn the broken rocks between
Shines in the light with more than earthly green :
Deep yellow beams the scattered stems illume,
Far in the level forest's central gloom :
Waving his hat, the shepherd, from the vale,
Directs his winding dog the cliffs to scale,—
The dog, loud barking, 'mid the glittering rocks,
Hunts, where his master points, the intercepted
Where oaks o'erhang the road the radiance shoots
On tawny earth, wild weeds, and twisted roots;
The druid-stones a brightened ring unfold;
And all the babbling brooks are liquid gold;
Sunk to a curve, the day-star lessens still,
Gives one bright glance, and drops behind the hill *.
In these secluded vales, if village fame, Confirmed by hoary hairs, belief may claim; When up the hills, as now, retired the light, Strange apparitions mocked the shepherd's sight.
The form appears of one that spurs his steed
Midway along the hill with desperate speed;
Unhurt pursues his lengthened flight, while all
Attend, at every stretch, his headlong fall.
Anon, appears a brave, a gorgeous show
Of horsemen-shadows moving to and fro;
At intervals imperial banners stream,
And now the van reflects the solar beam;
The rear through iron brown betrays a sullen gleam.
While silent stands the admiring crowd below,
Silent the visionary warriors go,
Winding in ordered pomp their upward way +
Till the last banner of the long array
† See a description of an appearance of this kind in Clark's Survey of the Lakes, accompanied by vouchers of its veracity, that may amuse the reader.
Has disappeared, and every trace is fled
Of splendor save the beacon's spiry head
Tipt with eve's latest gleam of burning red.
Now, while the solemn evening shadows sail,
On slowly-waving pinions, down the vale;
And, fronting the bright west, yon oak entwines,
Its darkening boughs and leaves, in stronger lines ;
'Tis pleasant near the tranquil lake to stray
Where, winding on along some secret bay,
The swan uplifts his chest, and backward flings
His neck, a varying arch, between his towering
The eye that marks the gliding creature sees
How graceful, pride can be, and how majestic, ease.
While tender cares and mild domestic loves
With furtive watch pursue her as she moves,
The female with a meeker charm succeeds,
And her brown little-ones around her leads,
Nibbling the water lilies as they pass,
Or playing wanton with the floating grass.
She, in a mother's care, her beauty's pride
Forgetting, calls the wearied to her side;
Alternately they mount her back, and rest
Close by her mantling wings' embraces prest.
Long may they float upon this flood serene; Theirs be these holms untrodden, still, and green, Where leafy shades fence off the blustering gale, And breathes in peace the lily of the vale! Yon isle, which feels not even the milk-maid's feet, Yet hears her song, "by distance made more sweet," Yon isle conceals their home, their hut-like bower; Green water-rushes overspread the floor; Long grass and willows form the woven wall, And swings above the roof the poplar tall. Thence issuing often with unwieldy stalk, They crush with broad black feet their flowery