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On the free hours that we have spent,
Together on the brown hill's bent.
When, musing on companions gone,
We doubly feel ourselves alone,
Something, my friend, we yet may gain,
There is a pleasure in this pain:
It soothes the love of lonely rest,
Deep in each gentler heart impressed.
'Tis silent, amid worldly toils,
And stifled soon by mental broils;
But, in a bosom thus prepared,
Its still small voice is often heard,
Whispering a mingled sentiment,
'Twixt resignation and content.
Oft in my mind such thoughts awake,
By lone St. Mary's silent lake;
Thou know'st it well,—nor fen, nor sedge,
Pollute the pure lake's crystal edge;
Abrupt and sheer, the mountains sink
At once upon the level brink;
And just a trace of silver sand
Marks where the water meets the land.
Far in the mirror, bright and blue,
Each hill's huge outline you may view,
Shaggy with heath, but lonely bare,
Nor tree, nor bush, nor brake is there,
Save where, of land, yon slender line
Bears thwart the lake the scattered pine.
Yet e'en this nakedness has power,
And aids the feeling of the hour;
Northicket, dell, nor copse you spy, Where living thing concealed might lie; Nor point, retiring, hides a dell, Where swain, or woodman lone, might dwell; There's nothing left to fancy's guess, You see that all is loneliness: And silence aids—though these steep hills Send to the lake a thousandrills; In summer tide, so soft they weep, The sound but lulls the ear asleep; Your horse's hoof-tread sounds too rude, So stilly is the solitude. Nought living meets the eye or ear, But well I ween the dead are near; For though, in feudal strife, a foe Hath laid. Our Lady's chapel low, Yet still, beneath the hallowed soil, The peasant rests him from histoil, And, dying, bids his bones be laid, Where erst his simple fathers prayed. If age had tamed the passions' strife, And fate had cut my ties to life, Here, have I thought, 'twere sweet to dwell, And rear again the chaplain's cell, Like that same peaceful hermitage, Where Milton longed to spend his age. "Twere sweet to mark the setting day On Bourhope's lonely top decay; And, as it faint and feeble died,
On the broad lake, and mountain's side.
To say, “Thus pleasures fade away;
Youth, talents, beauty thus decay,
And leave us dark, forlorn, and gray;"-
Then gaze on Dryhope's ruined tower,
And think on Yarrow's faded Flower:
And when that mountain-sound I heard,
Which bids us be for storm prepared,
The distant rustling of his wings,
As up his force the tempest brings,
‘Twere sweet, ere yet his terrors rave,
To sit upon the Wizard's grave;
That Wizard Priest's, whose bones are thrust
From company of holy dust;
On which no sunbeam ever shines-
(So superstition's creed divines,)
Thence view the lake, with sullen roar,
Heave her broad billows to the shore,
And mark the wild swans mount the gale,
Spread wide through mist their snowy sail,
And ever stoop again, to lave
Their bosoms on the surging wave:
Then, when, against the driving hail,
No longer might my plaid avail,
Back to my lonely home retire,
And light my lamp, and trim my fire:
There ponder o'er some mystic lay,
Till the wild tale had all its sway,
And, in the bittern's distant shriek,
I heard unearthly voices speak,
And thought the wizard Priest was come,
To claim again his ancient home !
And bade my busy fancy range,
To frame him fitting shape and strange,
Till from the task my brow I cleared,
And smiled to think that I had feared.
But chief, 'twere sweet to think such life,
(Though but escape from fortune's strife,)
Something most matchless good, and wise,
A great and grateful sacrifice;
And deem each hour, to musing given,
A step upon the road to heaven.
Yet him, whose heart is ill at ease,
Such peaceful solitudes displease:
He loves to drown his bosom's jar
Amid the elemental war:
And my black Palmer's choice had been,
Some ruder and more savage scene,
Like that which frowns round dark Lochskene.
There eagles scream from isle to shore;
Down all the rocks the torrents roar;
O'er the black waves incessant driven,
Dark mists infect the summer heaven;
Through the rude barriers of the lake,
Away its hurrying waters break,
Faster and whiter dash and curl,
Till down yon dark abyss they hurl.
Rises the fog-smoke white as snow,
Thunders the viewless stream below,
Diving, as if condemned to lave
Some demon's subterranean cave,
Who, poisoned by enchanter's spell,
Shakes the dark rock with groan and yell.
And well that Palmer's form and mien
Had suited with the stormy scene,
Just on the edge, straining his ken
To view the bottom of the den,
Where, deep, deep down, and far within,
Toils with the rocks the roaring linn;
Then, issuing forth one foamy wave,
And wheeling round the Giant's Grave,
White as the snowy charger's tail,
Drives down the pass of Moffatdale.
Marriot, thy harp, on Isis strung,
To many a Border theme has rung:
Then list to me, and thou shalt know
Of this mysterious man of wo.