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O MOUNTAIN-STREAM! the shepherd and his cot
Are privileged inmates of deep solitude ;
Nor would the nicest anchorite exclude
A field or two of brighter green, or plot
Of tillage-ground, that seemeth like a spot
Of stationary sunshine :-thou hast viewed
These only, Duddon! with their paths renewed
By fits and starts, yet this contents thee not.
Thee hath some awful spirit impelled to leave,
Utterly to desert the haunts of men,
Though simple thy companions were and few;
And through this wilderness a passage cleave
Attended but by thy own voice, save when
The clouds and fowls of the air thy way pursue !
SACRED religion, “mother of form and fear,”
Dread arbitress of mutable respect,
New rites ordaining when the old are wrecked,
Or cease to please the fickle worshipper ;
If one strong wish may be embosomed here,
Mother of Love! for this deep vale, protect
Truth's holy lamp, pure source of bright effect,
Gifted to purge the vapoury atmosphere
That seeks to stifle it;--as in those days
When this low pile a gospel teacher knew*
Whose good works formed an endless retinue :
Such priest as Chaucer sang in fervent lays;
Such as the heaven-taught skill of Herbert drew;
And tender Goldsmith crowned with deathless praise !
My frame hath often trembled with delight
When hope presented some far-distant good,
That seemed from heaven descending, like the flood
Of yon pure waters, from their aëry height
Hurrying, with lordly Duddon to unite ;
Who, 'mid a world of images imprest
On the calm depth of his transparent breast,
Appears to cherish most that torrent white,
The fairest, softest, liveliest of them all !
And seldom hath ear listened to a tune
More lulling than the busy hum of noon,
Swoln by that voice-whose murmur musical
Announces to the thirsty fields a boon
Dewy and fresh, till showers again shall fall.
The Rev. Robert Walker, 67 years curate of Seath waite. further account of this venerable and interesting man the reader is referred to note page 32 of the 3rd vol. of Wordsworth's Poetical Works.
Methinks 'twere no unprecedented feat,
Should some benignant minister of air,
Lift, and encircle with a cloudy chair,
The One for whom my heart shall ever beat
With tenderest love ;-or, if a safer seat
Atween his downy wings be furnished, there
Would lodge her, and the cherished burden bear
O'er hill and valley to this dim retreat!
Rough ways my steps have trod;~-too rough and long
For her companionship; here dwells soft ease;
With sweets which she partakes not, some distaste
Mingles, and lurking consciousness of wrong ;
Languish the flowers; the waters seem to waste
Their vocal charm; their sparklings cease to please.
Who swerves from innocence, who makes divorce
Of that serene companion—a good name,
Recovers not his loss; but walks with shame,
With doubt, with fear, and haply with remorse :
And ofttimes he, who, yielding to the force
Of chance-temptation, ere his journey end,
From chosen comrade turns, or faithful friend,
In vain shall rue the broken intercourse.
Not so with such as loosely wear the chain
That binds them, pleasant river! to thy side :-
Through the rough copse wheel thou with hasty stride,
I choose to saunter o'er the grassy plain,
Sure, when the separation has been tried,
That we, who part in love, shall meet again.
The Kirk of Ulpha to the pilgrim's eye
Is welcome as a star, that doth present
Its shining forehead through the peaceful rent
Of a black cloud diffused o'er half the sky;
Or as a fruitful palm-tree towering high
O’er the parched waste beside an Arab's tent;
Or the Indian tree whose branches, downward bent
Take root again, a boundless canopy.
How sweet were leisure! could it yield no more
Than ʼmid that wave-washed church-yard to recline,
From pastoral graves extracting thoughts divine ;
Or there to pace, and mark the summits hoar
Of distant moon-lit mountains faintly shine
Soothed by the unseen river's gentle roar.
But here no cannon thunders to the gale ;
Upon the wave no haughty pendants cast
A crimson splendour ; lowly is the mast
That rises here, and humbly spread the sail ;
While, less disturbed than in the narrow vale
Through which with strange vicissitudes he passed,
The wanderer seeks that receptacle vast,
Where all his unambitious functions fail.
And may thy poet, cloud-born stream! be free,
The sweets of earth contentedly resigned,
And each tumultuous working left behind
At seemly distance, to advance like Thee,
Prepared, in peace of heart, in calm of mind
And soul, to mingle with eternity !
Lone flower, hemmed in with snows, and white as they,
But hardier far, once more I see thee bend
Thy forehead, as if fearful to offend,
Like an unbidden guest. Though day by day,
Storms, sallying from the mountain-tops, way-lay
The rising sun, and on the plains descend,
Yet art thou welcome, welcome as a friend
Whose zeal outruns his promise! Blue-eyed May
Shall soon behold this border thickly set
With bright jonquils, their odours lavishing
On the soft west-wind and his frolic peers :
Nor will I then thy modest grace forget,
Chaste Snowdrop, venturous harbinger of Spring,
And pensive monitor of fleeting years !
The Shepherd, looking eastward, softly said,
“Bright is thy veil, O Moon, as thou art bright!"
Forthwith, that little cloud, in ether spread,
And penetrated all with tender light,
She cast away, and showed her fulgent head
Uncovered ;-dazzling the beholder's sight
As if to vindicate her beauty's right,
Her beauty thoughtlessly disparagèd.
Meanwhile that veil, removed or thrown aside,
Went, floating from her, darkening as it went;
And a huge mass, to bury or to hide,
Approached this glory of the firmament,
Who meekly yields, and is obscured :-content
With one calm triumph of a modest pride.