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“Shame on you !" cried my little Boat, “ Was ever such a homesick Loon, Within a living Boat to sit, And make no better use of it; A Boat twin-sister of the crescent moon!
Ne'er in the breast of full-grown Poet
Fluttered so faint a heart before ;-
Was it the music of the spheres
That overpowered your mortal ears ?
-Such din shall trouble them no more.
These nether precincts do not lack
Charms of their own; then come with me;
I want a comrade, and for you
There's nothing that I would not do ;
Naught is there that you shall not see.
Haste ! and above Siberian snows
We'll sport amid the boreal morning ;
Will mingle with her lustres gliding
Among the stars, the stars now hiding,
And now the stars adorning.
I know the secrets of a land
Where human foot did never stray;
Fair is that land as evening skies
And cool, though in the depth it lies
Of burning Africa.
Or we 'll into the realm of Faery,
Among the lovely shades of things;
The shadowy forms of mountains bare,
And streams, and howers, and ladies fair,
The shades of palaces and kings!
Or, if you thirst with hardy zeal
Less quiet regions to explore,
Prompt voyage shall to you reveal
How earth and heaven are taught to feel
The might of magic lore!"
"My little vagrant Form of light
My gay and beautiful Canoe,
Well have you played your friendly part;
As kindly take what from my heart
Experience forces—then adieu.
Temptation lurks among your words ;
But, while these pleasures you 're pursuing
Without impediment or let,
No wonder if you quite forget
What on the earth is doing.
There was a time when all mankind
Did listen with a faith sincere
To tuneful tongues in mystery versed;
Then Poets fearlessly rehearsed
The wonders of a wild career.
Go—(but the world's a sleepy world),
And 't is, I fear, an age too late)
Take with you some ambitious Youth!
For, restless Wanderer! I, in truth
Am all unfit to be your mate.
Long have I loved what I behold,
The night that calms, the day that cheers ;
The common growth of mother-earth
Suffices me-her tears, her mirth,
Her humblest mirth and tears.
The dragon's wing, the magic ring,
I shall not covet for my dower,
If I along that lowly way
With sympathetic heart may stray,
And with a soul of power.
These given, what more need I desire
To stir, to soothe, or elevate ?
What nobler marvels than the mind
May in life's daily prospect find,
May find or there create ?
A potent wand doth Sorrow wield ;
What spell so strong as guilty Fear !
Repentance is a tender Sprite;
If aught on earth have heavenly might
'T is lodged within her silent tear.
But grant my wishes,–let us now
Descend from this ethereal height;
Then take thy way, adventurous Skiff,
More daring far than Hippogriff,
And be thy own delight.
To the stone-table in my garden,
Loved haunt of many a summer hour,
The Squire is come : his daughter Bess
Beside him in the cool recess
Sits blooming like a flower.
With these are many more convened;
They know not I have been so far;
I see them there, in number nine,
Beneath the spreading Wyemouth-pine!
I see them--there they are !
There sits the Vicar and his Dame;
And there my good friend, Stephen Otter;
And, ere the light of evening fail,
To them I must relate the Tale
Of Peter Bell, the Potter.”
Off flew the Boat-away she flees,
Spurning her freight with indignation !
And I, as well as I was able,
On two poor legs, toward my stone-table
Limped on with sore vexation.
“O, here he is !” cried little Bess-
She saw me at the garden door;
“We've waited anxiously and long,"
They cried, and all around me throng,
Full nine of them or more!
“Reproach me not-your fears be still-
Be thankful we again have met!
Resume, my Friends! within the shade,
Your seats, and quickly shall be paid
The well-remembered debt."
I spake with faltering voice, like one
Not wholly rescued from the pale
Of a wild dream, or worse illusion;
But straight, to cover my confusion,
Began the promised Tale.
All by the moonlight river side,
Groaned the poor Beast—alas ! in vain;
The staff was raised to loftier height,
And the blows fell with heavier weight
As Peter struck and struck again.
“ Hold !" cried the Squire, “ against the rules
Of common sense you 're surely sinning;
This leap is for us all too bold;
Who Peter was, let that be told,
And start from the beginning."
“ A Potter, * Sir, he was by trade," Said I, becoming quite collected ; “And wheresoever he appeared, Full twenty times was Peter feared, For once that Peter was respected.
He, two-and-thirty years or more
Had been a wild and woodland rover;
Had heard the Atlantic surges roar
On farthest Cornwall’s rocky shore,
And trod the cliffs of Dover.
And he had seen Caernarvon's towers,
And well he knew the spire of Sarum;
And he had been where Lincoln bell,
Flings o'er the fen that ponderous knell —
A far-renowned alarum!