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To acts of love; and habit does the work
Of reason; yet prepares that after-joy
Which reason cherishes. And thus the soul,
By that sweet taste of pleasure unpursued,
Doth find herself insensibly disposed

To virtue and true goodness.

Some there are,

By their good works exalted, lofty minds,
And meditative, authors of delight

And happiness, which to the end of time

Will live, and spread, and kindle: even such minds
In childhood, from this solitary being,

Or from like wanderer, haply have received
(A thing more precious far than all that books
Or the solicitudes of love can do!)

That first mild touch of sympathy and thought,
In which they found their kindred with a world
Where want and sorrow were. The easy man
Who sits at his own door, and, like the pear
That overhangs his head from the green wall,
Feeds in the sunshine; the robust and young,
The prosperous and unthinking, they who live
Sheltered, and flourish in a little grove
Of their own kindred; all behold in him
A silent monitor, which on their minds
Must needs impress a transitory thought
Of self-congratulation, to the heart
Of each recalling his peculiar boons,
His charters and exemptions; and, perchance,
Though he to no one give the fortitude
And circumspection needful to preserve
His present blessings, and to husband up
The respite of the season, he, at least,
And 'tis no vulgar service, makes them felt.

Yet further. Many, I believe, there are
Who live a life of virtuous decency,
Men who can hear the decalogue and feel
No self-reproach; who of the moral law
Established in the land where they abide

Are strict observers; and not negligent
In acts of love to those with whom they dwell,
Their kindred, and the children of their blood.
Praise be to such, and to their slumbers peace!
But of the poor man ask, the abject poor;
Go, and demand of him, if there be here
In this cold abstinence from evil deeds,
And these inevitable charities,

Wherewith to satisfy the human soul?
No, man is dear to man; the poorest poor
Long for some moments in a weary life
When they can know and feel that they have been,
Themselves, the fathers and the dealers-out
Of some small blessings; have been kind to such
As needed kindness, for this single cause,
That we have all of us one human heart.
Such pleasure is to one kind being known,
My neighbour, when with punctual care, each week,
Duly as Friday comes, though pressed herself
By her own wants, she from her store of meal
Takes one unsparing handful for the scrip
Of this old mendicant, and, from her door
Returning with exhilarated heart,

Sits by her fire, and builds her hope in heaven.

Then let him pass, a blessing on his head! And while in that vast solitude to which The tide of things has borne him, he appears To breathe and live but for himself alone, Unblamed, uninjured, let him bear about The good which the benignant law of Heaven Has hung around him: and, while life is his, Still let him prompt the unlettered villagers To tender offices and pensive thoughts. Then let him pass, a blessing on his head! And, long as he can wander, let him breathe The freshness of the valleys; let his blood Struggle with frosty air and winter snows; And let the chartered wind that sweeps the heath Beat his grey locks against his withered face.

Reverence the hope whose vital anxiousness
Gives the last human interest to his heart.
May never House, misnamed of INDUSTRY,
Make him a captive! for that pent-up din,
Those life-consuming sounds that clog the air,
Be his the natural silence of old age!
Let him be free of mountain solitudes;
And have around him, whether heard or not,
The pleasant melody of woodland birds.
Few are his pleasures: if his eyes have now
Been doomed so long to settle upon earth
That not without some effort they behold
The countenance of the horizontal sun,
Rising or setting, let the light at least
Find a free entrance to their languid orbs,
And let him, where and when he will, sit down
Beneath the trees, or on a grassy bank
Of highway side, and with the little birds
Share his chance-gathered meal; and, finally,
As in the eye of Nature he has lived,
So in the eye of Nature let him die!

THE SMALL CELANDINE

THERE is a flower, the lesser celandine,
That shrinks, like many more, from cold and rain;
And, the first moment that the sun may shine,
Bright as the sun himself, 'tis out again!

When hailstones have been falling, swarm on swarm,
Or blasts the green field and the trees distrest,
Oft have I seen it muffled up from harm,
In close self-shelter, like a thing at rest.

But lately, one rough day, this flower I passed
And recognised it, though an altered form,
Now standing forth an offering to the blast,
And buffeted at will by rain and storm.

I stopped, and said with inly-muttered voice,
"It doth not love the shower, nor seek the cold:
This neither is its courage nor its choice,
But its necessity in being old.

"The sunshine may not cheer it, nor the dew ;
It cannot help itself in its decay;

Stiff in its members, withered, changed of hue."
And, in my spleen, I smiled that it was grey.

To be a prodigal's favourite, then, worse truth,
A miser's pensioner, behold our lot!

O man, that from thy fair and shining youth
Age might but take the things youth needed not!

ANIMAL TRANQUILLITY AND DECAY

THE little hedgerow birds,

That peck along the road, regard him not.
He travels on, and in his face, his step,
His gait, is one expression: every limb,
His look and bending figure, all bespeak
A man who does not move with pain, but moves
With thought. He is insensibly subdued
To settled quiet: he is one by whom
All effort seems forgotten; one to whom
Long patience hath such mild composure given,
That patience now doth seem a thing of which
He hath no need. He is by nature led
To peace so perfect that the young behold
With envy, what the old man hardly feels.

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