« PreviousContinue »
What time the king-fisher sits perched below,
Where, silver-bright, the water-lilies blow:-
A Wake—the booths whitening the village-green,
Where Punch and Scaramouch aloft are seen;
Sign beyond sign in close array unfurled,
Picturing at large the wonders of the world;
And far and wide, over the vicar's pale,
Black hoods and scarlet crossing hill and dale,
All, all abroad, and music in the gale:
A Wedding-dance—a dance into the night
On the barn-floor, when maiden-feet are light;
When the young bride receives the promised dower,
And flowers are flung, herself a fairer flower :-
A morning-visit to the poor man's shed,
(Who would be rich while One was wanting bread ?)
When all are emulous to bring relief,
And tears are falling fast—but not for grief :-
A Walk in Spring-GRATTAN, like those with thee
By the heath-side (who had not envied me?)
When the sweet limes, so full of bees in June,
Led us to meet beneath their boughs at noon;
And thou didst say which of the Great and Wise,
Could they but hear and at thy bidding rise,
Thou wouldst call up and question.
Come in their turn. Morning, and Evening, brings
Its holy office; and the sabbath-bell,
That over wood and wild and mountain-dell
Wanders so far, chasing all thoughts unholy
With sounds most musical, most melancholy,
Not on his ear is lost. Then he pursues
The pathway leading through the aged yews,
Nor unattended; and, when all are there,
Pours out his spirit in the House of Prayer,
That House with many a funeral-garland hung *
Of virgin-white-memorials of the young,
The last yet fresh when marriage-chimes were ringing,
And hope and joy in other hearts were springing;
That House, where Age led in by Filial Love,
Their looks composed, their thoughts on things above,
The world forgot, or all its wrongs forgiven
Who would not say they trod the path to Heaven?
Nor at the fragrant hour-at early dawn-
Under the elm-tree on his level lawn,
Or in his porch is he less duly found,
When they that cry for Justice gather round,
And in that cry her sacred voice is drowned;
His then to hear and weigh and arbitrate,
Like ALFRED judging at his palace-gate.
Healed at his touch, the wounds of discord close;
And they return as friends, that came as foes.
Thus, while the world but claims its proper part,
Oft in the head but never in the heart,
His life steals on; within his quiet dwelling
That home-felt joy all other joys excelling.
Sick of the crowd, when enters he-nor then
Forgets the cold indifference of men?
Soon through the gadding vine the sun looks in,
And gentle hands the breakfast-rite begin.
Then the bright kettle sings its matin-song,
Then fragrant clouds of Mocha and Souchong
* A custom in some of our country-churches.
Blend as they rise; and (while without are seen,
Sure of their meal, the small birds on the green;
And in from far a school-boy's letter flies,
Flushing the sister's cheek with glad surprise)
That sheet unfolds (who reads, that reads it not?)
Born with the day and with the day forgot;
Its ample page various as human life,
The pomp, the woe, the bustle and the strife!
But nothing lasts. In Autumn at his plough
Met and solicited, behold him now
Leaving that humbler sphere his fathers knew,
The sphere that Wisdom loves, and Virtue too;
They who subsist not on the vain applause
Misjudging man now gives and now withdraws.
'Twas morn—the sky-lark o'er the furrow sung As from his lips the slow consent was wrung; As from the glebe his fathers tilled of old, The plough they guided in an age of gold, Down by the beech-wood side he turned away : And now behold him in an evil day Serving the State again-not as before, Not foot to foot, the war-whoop at his door,But in the Senate; and (though round him fly The jest, the sneer, the subtle sophistry,) With honest dignity, with manly sense, And every charm of natural eloquence, Like Hampden struggling in his country's cause, The first, the foremost to obey the laws,
The last to brook oppression. On he moves,
Careless of blame while his own heart approves,
Careless of ruin-(" For the general good
'Tis not the first time I shall shed my blood.")
On thro' that gate misnamed, thro' which before
Went Sidney, Russell, Raleigh, Cranmer, More,