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The cock is crowing,
The stream is flowing,
The small birds twitter,
The lake doth glitter,
The green field sleeps in the sun;
The oldest and youngest
Are at work with the strongest ;
The cattle are grazing,
Their heads never raising ;
There are forty feeding like one !
Like an army defeated
The snow hath retreated,
And now doth fare ill
On the top of the bare hill ;
The ploughboy is whooping-anon--anon:
There's joy in the mountains;
There's life in the fountains;
Small clouds are sailing,
Blue sky prevailing;
The rain is over and gone!
Yet are they here the same unbroken knot Of human beings, in the self-same spot !
Men, women, children, yea, the frame
Of the whole spectacle the same!
Only their fire seems bolder, yielding light,
Now deep and red, the colouring of night;
That on their gipsy-faces falls,
Their bed of straw and blanket-walls.
Twelve hours, twelve bounteous hours, are gone, while I Have been a traveller under open sky,
Much witnessing of change and cheer,
Yet as I left I find them here!
The weary sun betook himself to rest,
Then issued vesper from the fulgent west,
Outshining like a visible god
The glorious path in which he trod. And now, ascending, after one dark hour And one night's diminution of her power,
Behold the mighty moon ! this way
She looks as if at them—but they Regard not her :-oh better wrong and strife (By nature transient) than such torpid life;
Life which the very stars reprove
As on their silent tasks they move!
Yet witness all that stirs in heaven or earth!
In scorn I speak not; they are what their birth
And breeding suffer them to be ;
Wild outcasts of society!
She had a tall man's height, or more ;
No bonnet screened her from the heat ;
Nor claimed she service from the hood
Of a blue mantle, to her feet
Depending with a graceful flow;
Only she wore a cap pure as unsullied snow.
Her skin was of Egyptian brown;
Haughty as if her eye had seen
Its own light to a distance thrown,
She towered-fit person for a queen,
To head those ancient Amazonian files;
Or ruling bandit's wife among the Grecian isles.
Her suit no faltering scruples checked ;
Forth did she pour, in current free,
Tales that could challenge no respect
But from a blind credulity;
And yet a boon I gave her; for the creature
Was beautiful to see-a weed of glorious feature:
I left her and pursued my way;
And soon before me did espy
A pair of little boys at play,
Chasing a crimson butterfly:
The taller followed with his hat in hand,
Wreathed round with yellow flowers, the gayest of the
The other wore a rimless crown
With leaves of laurel stuck about;
And, while both followed up and down,
Each whooping with a merry shout,
In their fraternal features I could trace
Unquestionable lines of that wild suppliant's face.
Yet they, so blithe of heart, seemed fit
For finest tasks of earth or air:
Wings let them have, and they might flit
Precursors of Aurora's car,
Scattering fresh flowers; though happier far, I ween,
To hunt their fluttering game o'er rock and level green.
They dart across my path--but lo,
Each ready with a plaintive whine !
Said I, “Not half an hour ago
Your mother has had alms of mine."
“That cannot be," one answered—“she is dead"-
I looked reproof-they saw-but neither hung his head.
“She has been dead, sir, many a day.” “Sweet boys; Heaven hears that rash reply; It was your mother, as I say !” And, in the twinkling of an eye, “Come! come !" cried one, and without more ado, Off to some other play the joyous vagrants flew !
COMPOSED MANY YEARS AFTER.
Where are they now, those wanton boys?
For whose free range the dædal earth
Was filled with animated toys,
And implements of frolic mirth ;
With tools for ready wit to guide ;
And ornaments of seemlier pride,
More fresh, more bright, than princes wear;
For what one moment flung aside,
Another could repair;
What good or evil have they seen
Since I their pastime witnessed here,
Their daring wiles, their sportive cheer?
I ask-but all is dark between !
Spirits of beauty and of grace!
Associates in that eager chase ;
Ye, by a course to nature true,
The sterner judgment can subdue;
And waken a relenting smile
When she encounters fraud or guile;
And sometimes ye can charm away
The inward mischief, or allay,
Ye, who within the blameless mind
Your favourite seat of empire find !
They met me in a genial hour,
When universal nature breathed
As with the breath of one sweet flower,-
A time to overrule the power
Of discontent, and check the birth
Of thoughts with better thoughts at stiife.
The most familiar bane of life
Since parting innocence bequeathed
Mortality to earth!
Soft clouds, the whitest of the year,
Sailed through the sky-the brooks ran clear ;
The lambs from rock to rock were bounding;
With songs the budded groves resounding ;
And to my heart is still endeared
The faith with which it then was cheered ;
The faith which saw that gladsome pair
Walk through the fire with unsinged hair.
Or, if such thoughts must needs deceive,
Kind spirits ! may we not believe
That they, so happy and so fair,
Through your sweet influence, and the care
Of pitying heaven, at least were free
From touch of deadly injury?
Destined, whate'er their earthly doom,
For mercy and immortal bloom!
When Ruth was left half desolate,
Her father took another mate;
And Ruth, not seven years old,
A slighted child, at her own will
Went wandering over dale and hill,
In thoughtless freedom bold.