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Of that celestial rill which flows for all.
The very atmosphere of this sweet place
Is dedicate to things not made with hands,
Pregnant with dear result long treasured up
With kindliness in memory's holy cell.
The ride, the walk, all sports of wood and field,
The exhilaration of horse, hound, and gun,
In glad succession, as the seasons wheel,
Are here partaken; and when wintry nights
Shut in betimes with hurricane and cold,
The serious or the lighter page select
Delights, by one made vocal for the rest;
To which some ballad of the olden time
Succeeds, whose dying fall in fancy's ear
Survives, and after mingles with our dreams.
hills we read The shepherds' book, the firmament and stars ; Or scan, with fine appliances and means, The lunar hills and vales, one after one, Smit with the solar beams, their break of day; And parching hollows, and volcanic rocks, Unvisited by rain, or cloud, or dew, Outshadowed and defined; or, further yet, The planets harping to their listening moons ; And, further yet, past measurement of thought,
The nebulous wonders of Orion's brand ;2
And the sweet influence of the Pleiades;
And other suns, and some in pairs distinct,
Twin centres haply for attendant globes,
Wherein created sense, if
Sees luminaries twain together set,
Together rise in complicated morn;
Or with the other each alternating,
And with strange night, fill up their grateful round.
Or visitation of meteoric bands
Like constellations mazed, and maddening on
Through orbits into intersection crushed;
Bewildered fragments of some shattered world.
Or apparitions of the Boreal morn,
Veiling the pole with films of shivering flame ;
Now into liquid lambency dissolved,
Now parcelling the concave into streams
With stateliest columns intertwined, suffused
As with the roseate blush of dawning day.
Or rainbow, when the summer storm goes by :
Rainbow, put forth for each beholder, not
An individual arch; for Science tells
How, of ten thousand, each particular eye
Elaborates the sky-dipped woof of light,
And weaves one for itself. Born with the birth
Of laws primeval when the world was young,
And man was none to wonder and adore,
Thou to “ the world's gray Fathers”* gavest a sign,
And in these latter days i’the cloud art set,
Fair Bow, type of Faith, Hope, and crowning Love!
Whereof as many well-springs overflow,
As there are hearts of men upright and
And may no sad exclusion from decay
Of the inward eye befal us, blotting out
Tokens of mercy kept alive in thee !
And 'tis a recreation, not a task, To mark, prophetic of vicissitude, The pearly furrows of the mackerel sky, Ribbed like the sea-sand ploughed with ceaseless tides. Or if the horizon's verge be emerald-tinged, Whilst all the upper sky is flecked and barred, By stubbornly conflicting agencies Wrought upon variously; streaked, as they say, Into resemblance of the gray mare's tail, By witches or by gamesome fairies ridden. And nightly we interrogate the sky's Own telegraphings, conned and read aright, When o'er the stedfast moon by sudden fits The racking scud drives furiously and fast;
* Henry Vaughan, A.D. 1614–1695.
Vaunt courier of the sullen storm that sleeps
In the dark chambers of the dropping south.
Or mark the vaporous masses, thunder-crammed,
Of shapes fantastical, and gorgeous hues,
Pierced by mysterious light through all their folds :
'Tis unsubstantial all; yet peaks arise,
Grim forests, cities, and the bowery isles
Of glorious Cloudland, as of earth below,
Indent with bays, and throned on glistening sea !
Such are our themes : or, some divine effect Robing all Ranmore's height in golden fire, By magic intervals of sun and shower: Haply o'ercanopied with liquid blue, What time the year its russet garb puts on At the first warnings of autumnal frost, We note the lazy horizontal mist Spread like a frozen lake o'er Mickleham's vale: Or at the morning meal discuss the gale, That last night, like an iron-embattled host, And multitudinous in wrath and power, Rushed from the west ; far off its coming rang; Then in the three tall ash-trees piped amain, And bellowed forth rude notes unheard before. And once, a rare occasion, we beheld The hills grow dusky, whilst Heaven's blackening vault,
Pillared upon the spiral waterspout,
Shook to the anthems of the thunderclap,
hill was telling of the sound.
But when the evening air is all becalmed, And blue smoke wreathed o'er Bramble-haugh reveals The charcoal-burner's peaceful bivouac; And the young Moon is shedding down her light On the black fir-trees fringing Coxhead ridge; A delicate ear at intervals
A pent-up rushing noise from Betchworth mill,
Or clang of rolling wheels, or horseman's tramp,
Or the low thunder of the railway train,
Wakening the solemn key-note of the hill ;
Or merry notes of rural minstrelsy
Commingled, and disjointed, borne from far
On tremulous wings of fluctuating airs ;
With mystic influence, hard to be described ;
Delusive hauntings of the listening ear.
More near, the curlew's wildly pleasing cry,
The partridge calling to her scattered brood,
The wing of homeward rook creaking aloft,5
The wagoner's cheer, and clanking of his team,
And cowboy's whistle, each and all proclaim
The element unruffled and at peace,