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We make a kind of handsome show! Among these hills, from first to last, We've weathered many a furious blast ; Hard passage forcing on, with head Against the storm, and canvass spread. I hate a boaster ; but to thee Will say 't, who know'st both land and sea, The unluckiest hulk that stems the brine Is hardly worse beset than mine, When cross-winds on her quarter beat ; And, fairly lifted from my feet, I stagger onward-heaven knows how; But not so pleasantly as now : Poor pilot I, by snows confounded, And many a foundrous pit surrounded ! Yet here we are, by night and day Grinding through rough and smooth our way ; Through foul and fair our task fulfilling ; And long shall be so yet—God willing !”
This explanation stilled the alarm, Cured the foreboder like a charm; This, and the manner, and the voice, Summoned the Sailor to rejoice; His heart is up-he fears no evil From life or death, from man or devil; He wheels-and, making many stops, Brandished his crutch against the mountain tops ; And, while he talked of blows and scars, Benjamin, among the stars, Beheld a dancing—and a glancing; Such retreating and advancing As, I ween, was never seen In bloodiest battle since the days of Mars !
“Ay," said the Tar, " through fair and foul — But save us from yon screeching owl ! ” That instant was begun a fray Which called their thoughts another way : The mastiff, ill-conditioned carl ! What must he do but growl and snarl, Still more and more dissatisfied With the meek comrade at his side! Till, not incensed though put to proof, The Ass, uplifting a hind hoof, Salutes the Mastiff on the head; And so were better manners bred, And all was calmed and quieted.
“ Yon screech-owl,” says the Sailor, turning Back to his former cause of mourning, “ Yon owl!-pray God that all be well ! 'Tis worse than any funeral bell ; As sure as I've the gift of sight, We shall be meeting ghosts to-night!" -Said Benjamin, “ This whip shall lay A thousand, if they cross our way. I know that Wanton's noisy station, I know him and his occupation; The jolly bird hath learned his cheer l'pon the banks of Windermere; Where a tribe of them make merry, Mocking the Man that keeps the ferry; Hallooing from an open throat, Like travellers shouting for a boat. - The tricks he learned at Windermere This vagrant owl is playing hereThat is the worst of his employment: He's at the top of his enjoyment !"
- Blithe spirits of her own impel
* The crag of the ewe lamb.
- Fly also, Muse! and from the dell
Knowing what cause there is for shame,
The mists, that o'er the streamlet's bed Hung low, begin to rise and spread; Even while I speak, their skirts of grey Are smitten by a silver ray; And lo!-up Castrigg's naked steep (Where, smoothly urged, the vapours sweep Along-and scatter and divide, Like fleecy clouds self-multiplied) The stately waggon is ascending, With faithful Benjamin attending, Apparent now beside his teamNow lost amid a glittering steam: And with him goes his Sailor-friend, By this time near their journey's end ; And, after their high-minded riot, Sickening into thoughtful quiet ; As if the morning's pleasant hour, Had for their joys a killing power. And, sooth, for Benjamin a vein Is opened of still deeper pain As if his heart by notes were stung From out the lowly hedge-rows flung ; As if the warbler lost in light Reproved his soarings of the night, In strains of rapture pure and holy Upbraided his distempered folly.
Alas! what boots it !—who can hide, When the malicious Fates are bent On working out an ill intent? Can destiny be turned aside ? No-sad progress of my story! Benjamin, this outward glory Cannot shield thee from thy Master, Who from Keswick has pricked forth, Sour and surly as the north ; And, in fear of some disaster, Comes to give what help he may, And to hear what thou canst say; If, as needs he must forebode, Thou hast been loitering on the road! His fears, his doubts, may now take flightThe wished-for object is in sight; Yet, trust the Muse, it rather hath Stirred him up to livelier wrath ; Which he stifles, moody man! With all the patience that he can ; To the end that, at your meeting, He may give thee decent greeting.
Drooping is he, his step is dull; But the horses stretch and pull; With increasing vigour climb, Eager to repair lost time; Whether, by their own desert,
There he is resolved to stop, Till the waggon gains the top ;
And sure it is, that through this night,
But stop he cannot-must advance : Him Benjamin, with lucky glance, Espies—and instantly is ready, Self-collected, poised, and steady: And, to be the better seen, Issues from his radiant shroud, From his close-attending cloud, With careless air and open mien. Erect his port, and firm his going ; So struts yon cock that now is crowing; And the morning light in grace Strikes upon his lifted face, Hurrying the pallid hue away That might his trespasses betray. But what can all avail to clear him, Or what need of explanation, Parley or interrogation? For the Master sees, alas ! That unhappy Figure near him, Limping o'er the dewy grass, Where the road it fringes, sweet, Soft and cool to way-worn feet; And, O indignity! an Ass, By his noble Mastiff's side, Tethered to the waggon's tail: And the ship, in all her pride, Following after in full sail ! Not to speak of babe and mother; Who, contented with each other, And snug as birds in leafy arbour, Find, within, a blessed harbour !
Accept, 0 Friend, for praise or blame,
Nor is it I who play the part,
With eager eyes the Master pries; Looks in and out, and through and through ; Says nothing--till at last he spies A wound upon the Mastiff's head, A wound, where plainly might be read What feats an Ass's hoof can do! But drop the rest :—this aggravation, This complicated provocation, A hoard of grievances unsealed; All past forgiveness it repealed; And thus, and through distempered blood On both sides, Benjamin the good, The patient, and the tender-hearted, Was from his team and waggon parted; When duty of that day was o'er, Laid down his whip-and served no more.--Nor could the waggon long survive, Which Benjamin had ceased to drive : It lingered on ;-guide after guide Ambitiously the office tried ; But each unmanageable hill Called for his patience and his skill ;
-But most of all, thou lordly Wain !
and there Another; then perhaps a pair
The lame, the sickly, and the old ;
POEMS OF THE IMAGINATION.
While I am lying on the grass
Though babbling only to the Vale,
Thrice welcome, darling of the Spring !
The same whom in my school-boy days
THERE WAS A BOY. THERE was a Boy ; ye knew him well, ye cliffs And islands of Winander !-many a time, At evening, when the earliest stars began To move along the edges of the hills, Rising or setting, would he stand alone, Beneath the trees, or by the glimmering lake ; And there, with fingers interwoven, both hands Pressed closely palm to palm and to his mouth L'plifted, he, as through an instrument, Blew mimic hootings to the silent owls, That they mightanswer him. And they would shout Across the watery vale, and shout again, Responsive to his call,—with quivering peals, And long halloos, and screams, and echoes loud Redoubled and redoubled ; concourse wild Of jocund din ! And, when there came a pause Of silence such as baffled his best skill : Then, sometimes, in that silence, while he hung Listening, a gentle shock of mild surprise Has carried far into his heart the voice Of mountain-torrents ; or the visible scene Would enter unawares into his mind With all its solemn imagery, its rocks, Its woods, and that uncertain heaven received Into the bosom of the steady lake.
This boy was taken from his mates, and died In childhood, ere he was full twelve years old. Pre-eminent in beauty is the vale Where he was born and bred : the church-yard hangs Upon a slope above the village-school ; And, through that church-yard when my way has led On summer-evenings, I believe, that there A long half-hour together I have stood Mute-looking at the grave in which he lies !
TO THE CUCKOO. O BLITHE New-comer ! I have heard, I hear thee and rejoice. O Cuckoo ! shall I call thee Bird, Or but a wandering Voice ?
The sky is overcast With a continuous cloud of texture close, Heavy and wan, all whitened by the Moon, Which through that veil is indistinctly seen, A dull, contracted circle, yielding light So feebly spread, that not a shadow falls,