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The struggling Rill insensibly is grown
Into a Brook of loud and stately march,
Crossed ever and anon by plank and arch ;
And, for like use, lo ! what might seem a zone
Chosen for ornament; stone matched with stone
In studied symmetry, with interspace
For the clear waters to pursue their race
Without restraint. — How swiftly have they flown,
Succeeding - still succeeding! Here the Child
Puts, when the high-swoln Flood runs fierce and wild,
His budding courage to the proof; -- and here
Declining Manhood learns to note the sly
And sure encroachments of infirmity,
Thinking how fast time runs, life's end how near !
Not so that Pair whose youthful spirits dance
With prompt emotion, urging them to pass ;
A sweet confusion checks the Shepherd-lass;
Blushing she eyes the dizzy flood askance,
To stop ashamed
too timid to advance;
She ventures once again — another pause !
His outstretched hand He tauntingly withdraws.
She sues for help with piteous utterance !
Chidden she chides again; the thrilling touch
Both feel when he renews the wished-for aid :
Ah! if their fluttering hearts should stir too much,
Should beat too strongly, both may be betrayed.
The frolic Loves who, from yon high rock, see
The struggle, clap their wings for victory!
No fiction was it of the antique age:
A sky-blue stone, within this sunless cleft,
Is of the very foot-marks unbereft
Which tiny Elves impressed;— on that smooth stage
Dancing with all their brilliant equipage
In secret revels — haply after theft
Of some sweet babe, flower stolen, and coarse weed left
For the distracted mother to assuage
Her grief with, as she might! — But, where, oh! where
Is traceable a vestige of the notes
That ruled those dances wild in character ?
– Deep underground ? — Or in the upper air,
On the shrill wind of midnight? or where floats
Cer twilight fields the autumnal gossamer ?
On, loitering Muse — The swift Stream chides us -on!
Albeit his deep-worn channel doth immure
Objects immense pourtrayed in miniature,
Wild shapes for many a strange comparison !
Niagaras, Alpine passes, and anon
Abodes of Naiads, calm abysses pure,
Bright liquid mansions, fashioned to endure
When the broad Oak drops, a leafless skeleton,
And the solidities of mortal pride,
Palace and Tower, are crumbled into dust!
The Bard who walks with Duddon for his guide,
Shall find such toys of Fancy thickly set:
Turn from the sight, enamoured Muse we must;
And, if thou canst, leave them without regret !
Hail to the fields — with Dwellings sprinkled o'er,
And one small hamlet, under a green hill,
Clustered with barn and byer, and spouting mill!
A glance suffices ; — should we wish for more,
Gay June would scorn us ; but when bleak winds roar
Through the stiff lance-like shoots of pollard ash,
Dread swell of sound ! loud as the gusts that lash
The matted forests of Ontario's shore
By wasteful steel unsmitten, then would I
Turn into port, -- and, reckless of the gale,
Reckless of angry Duddon sweeping by,
While the warm hearth exalts the mantling ale,
Laugh with the generous household heartily,
At all the merry pranks of Donnerdale !