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"NUNS FRET NOT AT THEIR CONVENT'S NARROW ROOM"
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 the 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, únto which we doom
Ourselves, no prison is: and hence for 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 have felt the weight of too much liberty,
Should find brief solace there, as I have found.
Intended more particularly for the perusal of those who may have happened to be enamoured of some beautiful place of Retreat, in the Country of the Lakes.
WELL may'st thou halt, and gaze with brightening eye! The lovely cottage in the guardian nook
Hath stirred thee deeply; with its own dear brook, Its own small pasture, almost its own sky!
But covet not the 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 touched, would melt away.
"BELOVED VALE!' I SAID, 'WHEN
I SHALL CON"
"BELOVED Vale!" I said, "when I shall con
Those many records of my childish years,
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 unto the vale I came, no fears
Distressed me; from mine eyes escaped no tears;
Deep thought, or dread remembrance, had I none.
By doubts and thousand petty fancies crost
To see the trees, which I had thought so tall,
Men dwarfs; the brooks so narrow, fields so small.
A juggler's balls old Time about him tossed;
I looked, I stared, I smiled, I laughed; and all
The weight of sadness was in wonder lost.
"PELION AND OSSA FLOURISH SIDE BY SIDE"
PELION and Ossa flourish side by side,
Together in immortal books enrolled :
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.
"THERE IS A LITTLE UNPRETENDING RILL"
THERE is a little unpretending rill
Of limpid water, humbler far than aught
That ever among men or Naiads sought
Notice or name! It trickles down the hill
So feebly, just for love of power and 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 ;
The immortal spirit of one happy day
Lingers beside that rill, in vision clear
A FLOCK of sheep that leisurely pass by,
One after one; the sound of rain, and bees
Murmuring; the fall of rivers, winds and seas,
Smooth fields, white sheets of water, and pure sky;
By turns have all been thought of; yet I lie
Sleepless! and soon the small birds' melodies
Must hear, first uttered from my orchard trees;
And the first cuckoo's melancholy cry.
Even thus last night, and two nights more, I lay
And could not win thee, sleep! by any stealth:
So do not let me wear to-night away :
Without thee what is all the morning's wealth?
Come, blessed barrier between day and day,
Dear mother of fresh thoughts and joyous health!
WRITTEN UPON A BLANK LEAF IN THE COMPLETE ANGLER
WHILE flowing rivers yield a blameless sport,
Shall live the name of Walton: sage benign!
Whose pen, the mysteries of the rod and line
Unfolding, did not fruitlessly exhort
To reverend watching of each still report
That Nature utters from her rural shrine.
Meek, nobly versed in simple discipline,
Who found the longest summer day too short,
To thy loved pastime given by sedgy Lee,
Or down the tempting maze of Shawford brook
Fairer than life itself, in thy sweet book,
Are cowslip-bank and shady willow-tree;
And the fresh meads, where flowed from every nook
Of his full bosom, gladsome piety!
ON THE DETRACTION WHICH FOLLOWED THE PUBLICATION OF A CERTAIN POEM
See Milton's Sonnet, beginning, "A Book was writ of late called Tetrachordon.'
A Book came forth of late, called PETER BELL;
Not negligent the style; the matter? good
As aught that song records of Robin Hood;
Or Roy, renowned through many a Scottish dell;
But some (who brook those hackneyed themes full well,
Nor heat, at Tam o' Shanter's name, their blood)
Waxed wroth, and with foul claws, a harpy brood,
On bard and hero clamorously fell.
Heed not, wild Rover once through heath and glen,
Who mad'st at length the better life thy choice,
Heed not such onset! nay, if praise of men
To thee appear not an unmeaning voice,
Lift up that gray-haired forehead, and rejoice
In the just tribute of thy poet's pen!
“GRIEF, THOU HAST LOST AN EVERREADY FRIEND"
GRIEF, thou hast lost an ever-ready friend
Now that the cottage spinning-wheel is mute;
And care, a comforter that best could suit
Her froward mood, and softliest reprehend;
And love, a charmer's voice, that used to lend,
More efficaciously than aught that flows
From harp or lute, kind influence to compose
The throbbing pulse, else troubled without end:
Even joy could tell, joy craving truce and rest
From her own overflow, what power sedate
On those revolving motions did await
Assiduously, to soothe her aching breast;
And, to a point of just relief, abate
The mantling triumphs of a day too blest.
EVEN So for me a vision sanctified
The sway of death; long ere mine eyes had seen
Thy countenance, the still rapture of thy mien,
When thou, dear sister! wert become death's bride: