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Therefore, although it be a history
Homely and rude, I will relate the fame
For the delight of a few natural hearts;
And, with yet fonder feeling, for the fake
Of youthful poets, who among these hills
Will be my fecond felf when I am gone.
Upon the foreft-fide in Grafmere Vale There dwelt a fhepherd, Michael was his name; An old man, ftout of heart, and ftrong of limb. His bodily frame had been from youth to age Of an unusual strength: his mind was keen, Intense and frugal, apt for all affairs, And in his fhepherd's calling he was prompt And watchful more than ordinary men. Hence he had learned the meaning of all winds, Of blafts of every tone; and, oftentimes, When others heeded not, he heard the south Make fubterraneous mufic, like the noise Of bagpipers on diftant Highland hills. The shepherd, at fuch warning, of his flock Bethought him, and he to himself would fay, "The winds are now devising work for me!" And, truly, at all times, the storm, that drives The traveller to a fhelter, fummoned him Up to the mountains: he had been alone Amid the heart of many thousand mifts,
That came to him and left him on the heights.
So lived he till his eightieth year was paft;
And groffly that man errs, who should suppose
That the green valleys, and the streams and rocks,
Were things indifferent to the fhepherd's thoughts.
Fields, where with cheerful spirits he had breathed
The common air; the hills, which he so oft
Had climbed with vigorous fteps; which had impreffed
So many incidents upon his mind
Of hardship, skill, or courage, joy or fear;
Which, like a book, preferved the memory
Of the dumb animals whom he had faved,
Had fed or sheltered, linking to such acts,
So grateful in themselves, the certainty
Of honourable gain; these fields, these hills,
Which were his living being, even more
Than his own blood-what could they lefs? had laid
Strong hold on his affections, were to him
A pleasurable feeling of blind love,
The pleasure which there is in life itself.
His days had not been paffed in fingleness.
His helpmate was a comely matron, old—
Though younger than himself full twenty years.
She was a woman of a stirring life,
Whose heart was in her house: two wheels she had
Of antique form; this large, for fpinning wool;
That small, for flax; and if one wheel had reft,
It was because the other was at work.
The pair had but one inmate in their house,
An only child, who had been born to them
When Michael, telling o'er his years, began
To deem that he was old,-in fhepherd's phrase,
With one foot in the grave. This only fon,
With two brave fheep-dogs tried in many a ftorm,
The one of an ineftimable worth,
Made all their household. I may truly say,
That they were as a proverb in the vale
For endless induftry. When day was gone,
And from their occupations out of doors
The fon and father were come home, even then
Their labour did not ceafe; unless when all
Turned to the cleanly fupper-board, and there,
Each with a mess of pottage and skimmed milk,
Sat round their basket piled with oaten cakes,
And their plain home-made cheese. Yet when their
Was ended, Luke (for so the son was named)
And his old father both betook themselves
To fuch convenient work as might employ
Their hands by the fire-fide; perhaps to card
Wool for the housewife's fpindle, or repair
Some injury done to fickle, flail, or scythe,
Or other implement of house or field.
Down from the ceiling, by the chimney's edge,
Which in our ancient uncouth country style
Did with a huge projection overbrow
Large space beneath, as duly as the light
Of day grew dim, the housewife hung a lamp;
An aged utenfil, which had performed
Service beyond all others of its kind.
Early at evening did it burn, and late,
Surviving comrade of uncounted hours,
Which going by from year to year had found
And left the couple neither gay perhaps
Nor cheerful, yet with objects and with hopes,
Living a life of eager industry.
And now, when Luke was in his eighteenth year,
There by the light of this old lamp they fat,
Father and fon, while late into the night
The housewife plied her own peculiar work,
Making the cottage through the filent hours
Murmur as with the found of fummer flies.
This light was famous in its neighbourhood,
And was a public fymbol of the life
The thrifty pair had lived. For, as it chanced,
Their cottage on a plot of rising ground
Stood fingle, with large prospect, north and south,
High into Eafedale, up to Dunmail-Raise,
And weftward to the village near the lake;
And from this conftant light, fo regular
And fo far feen, the house itself, by all
Who dwelt within the limits of the vale,
Both old and young, was named the EVENING STAR.
Thus living on through such a length of years,
The fhepherd, if he loved himself, must needs
Have loved his helpmate; but to Michael's heart
This fon of his old age was yet more dear-
Effect which might perhaps have been produced
By that inftinctive tenderness, the fame
Blind spirit, which is in the blood of all-
Or that a child, more than all other gifts,
Brings hope with it, and forward-looking thoughts,
And stirrings of inquietude, when they
By tendency of nature needs must fail.
From fuch and other caufes, to the thoughts
Of the old man his only fon was now
The dearest object that he knew on earth.
Exceeding was the love he bare to him,
His heart and his heart's joy! For oftentimes
Old Michael, while he was a babe in arms,
Had done him female fervice, not alone
For dalliance and delight, as is the use
Of fathers, but with patient mind enforced
To acts of tenderness; and he had rocked
His cradle with a woman's gentle hand.