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Small bed was curtained greenly, and the folds
Hung green about the window which let in
The out-door world with all its greenery.
You could not push your head out and escape
A dash of dawn-dew from the honey-suckle,
But so you were baptized into the grace
And privilege of seeing. ...
First, the lime,
(I had enough there, of the lime, be sure,-
My morning-dream was often hummed away
By the bees in it); past the lime, the lawn,
Which, after sweeping broadly round the house,
Went trickling through the shrubberies in a stream
Of tender turf, and wore and lost itself
Among the acacias, over which you saw
The irregular line of elms by the deep lane
Which stopped the grounds and dammed the overflow
Of arbutus and laurel. Out of sight
The lane was ; sunk so deep, no foreign tramp
Nor drover of wild ponies out of Wales
Could guess if lady's hall or tenant's lodge
Dispensed such odours,—though his stick well-crooked
Might reach the lowest trail of blossoming briar
Which dipped upon the wall. Behind the elms,
And through their tops, you saw the folded hills
Striped up and down with hedges (burly oaks
Projecting from the line to show themselves)
Through which my cousin Romney's chimney smoked
As still as when a silent month in frost
Breathes, showing where the woodlands hid Leigh Hall;
While, far above, a jut of table-land,
A promontory without water stretched, -
You could not catch it if the days were thick,
Or took it for a cloud ; but, otherwise,
The vigorous sun would catch it up at eve
And use it for an anvil till he had filled
The shelves of heaven with burning thunderbolts,
Protesting against night and darkness :--then,
When all his setting trouble was resolved
To a trance of passive glory, you might see
In apparition on the golden sky
(Alas, my Giotto's background !) the sheep run
Along the fine clear outline, small as mice
That run along a witch's scarlet thread.
I learnt to love that England. Very oft,
Before the day was born, or otherwise
Through secret windings of the afternoons,
I threw my hunters off and plunged myself
Among the deep hills, as a hunted stag
Will take the waters, shivering with the fear
And passion of the course. And when at last
Escaped, so many a green slope built on slop?
Betwixt me and the evening's house behind,
I dared to rest, or wander, in a rest
Made sweeter for the step upon the grass,
And view the ground's most gentle dimplement.
(As if God's finger touched, but did not press
In making England) such an up and down
Of verdure,-nothing too much up or down,
A ripple of land ; such little hills, the sky
Can stoop so tenderly and the wheatfields climb ;
Such nooks of valleys lined with orchises,
Fed full of noises by invisible streams ;
And open pastures where you scarcely tell
White daisies from white dew,-at intervals
The mythic oaks and elm-trees standing out
Self-poised upon their prodigy of shade, -
I thought my father's land was worthy too
Of being my Shakespeare's.
Ofter we walked only two,
If cousin Romney pleased to walk with me.
We read, or talked, or quarrelled, as it chanced.
We were not lovers, nor even friends well-matched;
Say rather, scholars upon different tracks,
And thinkers disagreed, he, overfull
Of what is, and I, haply, overbold
For what might be.
But then the thrushes sang,
And shook my pulses and the elms' new leaves ;
At which I turned, and held my finger up,
And bade him mark that, howsoe'er the world
Went ill, as he related, certainly
The thrushes still sang in it. At the word
His brow would soften,-and he bore with me
In melancholy patience, not unkind,
While breaking into voluble ecstasy
I flattered all the beauteous country round,
As poets use, the skies, the clouds, the fields,
The happy violets hiding from the roads
The primroses run down to, carrying gold;
The tangled hedgerows, where the cows push out
Impatient horns and tolerant churning mouths
'Twixt dripping ash-boughs,-hedgerows all alive
With birds and gnats and large white butterflies,
Which look as if the May-flower had caught life
And palpitated forth upon the wind ;
Hills, vales, woods, netted in a silver mist,
Farms, granges, doubled up among the hills ;
And cattle grazing in the watered vales,
And cottage-chimneys smoking from the woods,
And cottage-gardens smelling everywhere,
Confused with smell of orchards. 'See,' I said,
"And see ! is God not with us on the earth?
And shall we put him down by aught we do?
Who says there's nothing for the poor and vilo
Save poverty and wickedness ? behold !'
And ankle-deep in English grass I leaped
And clapped my hands, and called all very fair.
Every age, Through being beheld too close, is ill-discerned By those who have not lived past it. We'll supposa
Mount Athos carved, as Alexander schemed, VOL. IV.
To soine colossal statue of a man.
The peasants, gathering brushwood in his ear,
Had guessed as little as the browsing goats
Of form or feature of humanity
Up there,-in fact, had travelled five miles off
Or ere the giant image broke on them,
Full human profile, nose and chin distinct,
Mouth, muttering rhythms of silence up the sky
And fed at evening with the blood of suns ;
Grand torso,-hand, that flung perpetually
The largesse of a silver river down
To all the country pastures. 'Tis even thus
With times we live in,-evermore too great
To be apprehended near.
There he lay upon his back,
The yearling creature, warm and moist with life
To the bottom of his dimples,-to the ends
Of the lovely tumbled curls about his face;
For since he had been covered over-much
To keep him from the light-glare, both his cheeks
Were hot and scarlet as the first live rose
The shepherd's heart-blood ebbed away into
The faster for his love. And love was here
As instant; in the pretty baby-inouth,
Shut close as if for dreaming that it sucked,
The little naked feet, drawn up the way
Of nestled birdlings; everything so soft
And tender,-to the tiny holdfast hands,
Which, closing on a finger into sleep,
Had kept the mould of 't.
While we stood there dumb,
For oh, that it should take such innocence
To prove just guilt, I thought, and stood there dumb,-
The light upon his eyelids pricked them wide,
And, staring oʻit at us w th all their blut,
As half perplexed between the angelhood
He had been away to visit in his sleep,
And our most mortal presence, gradually
He saw his mother's face, accepting it
In change for heaven itself with such a smile
As might have well been learnt there,-never moved,
But smiled on, in a drowse of ecstasy,
So happy (half with her and half with heaven)
He could not have the trouble to be stirred,
But smiled and lay there. Like a rose, I said?
As red and still indeed as any rose,
That blows in all the silence of its leaves,
Content in blowing to fulfil its life.
THE JOURNEY SOUTH.
I just knew it when we swept Above the old roofs of Dijon : Lyons dropped A spark into the night, half trodden out Unseen. But presently the winding Rhone Washed out the moonlight large along his banks, Which strained their yielding curves out clear and clean To hold it,-shadow of town and castle blurred Upon the hurrying river. Such an air Blew thence upon the forehead,-half an air And half a water,--that I leaned and looked, Then, turning back on Marian, smiled to mark That she looked only on her child, who slept, His face toward the moon too.
So we passed The liberal open country and the close, And shot through tunnels, like a lightning-wedge By great Thor-hammers driven through the rock, Which, quivering through the intestine blackness, splits, And lets it in at once : the train swept in Athrob with effort, trembling with resolve, The fierce denouncing whistle wailing on And dying off smothered in the shuddering dark, While we, self-awed, drew troubled breath, oppressed