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One morning thus, by Esthwaite lake,
When life was sweet, I knew not why,
To me my good friend Matthew spake,
And thus I made reply:
“ The eye—it cannot choose but see;
We cannot bid the ear be still;
Our bodies feel, where'er they be,
Against, or with our will.
Nor less I deem that there are Powers
Which of themselves our minds impress ;
That we can feed this mind of ours
In a wise passiveness.
Think you, 'mid all this mighty sum
Of things for ever speaking,
That nothing of itself will come,
But we must still be seeking ?
-Then ask not wherefore, here, alone,
Conversing as I may,
And dream my time away."
AN EVENING SCENE ON THE SAME SUBJECT.
Up! up! my Friend, and quit your books;
Or surely you'll grow double :
Up! up! my Friend, and clear your looks;
Why all this toil and trouble?
The sun, above the mountain's head,
A freshening lustre mellow
Through all the long green fields has spread,
His first sweet evening yellow.
Books ! 'tis a dull and endless strife :
Come, hear the woodland linnet,
How sweet his music! on my life,
There's more of wisdom in it.
And hark ! how blithe the throstle sings!
He, too, is no mean preacher :
Come forth into the light of things,
Let Nature be
She has a world of ready wealth,
Our minds and hearts to bless-
Spontaneous wisdom breathed by health,
Truth breathed by cheerfulness.
One impulse from a vernal wood
May teach you more of man,
Of moral evil and of good,
Than all the sages can.
Sweet is the lore which Nature brings ;
Our meddling intellect
Mis-shapes the beauteous forms of things :-
We murder to dissect.
Enough of Science and of Art;
those barren leaves; Come forth, and bring with you a heart That watches and receives.
Left upon a Seat in a Yew-tree, which stands near the lake of Esthwaite,
on a desolate part of the shore, commanding a beautiful prospect.
Nay, Traveller! rest. This lonely Yew-tree stands
Far from all human dwelling : what if here
No sparkling rivulet spread the verdant herb ?
What if the bee love not these barren boughs ?
Yet, if the wind breathe soft, the curling waves,
That break against the shore, shall lull thy mind
By one soft impulse saved from vacancy.
Who he was
That piled these stones and with the mossy
First covered, and here taught this aged Tree
With its dark arms to form a circling bower,
I well remember.-He was one who owned
No common soul. In youth by science nursed,
And led by nature into a wild scene
Of lofty hopes, he to the world went forth
A favoured Being, knowing no desire
Which genius did not hallow; 'gainst the taint
Of dissolute tongues, and jealousy, and hate,
And scorn,--against all enemies prepared,
All but neglect. The world, for so it thought,
Owed him no service ; wherefore he at once
With indignation turned himself away,
And with the food of pride sustained his soul
In solitude.--Stranger! these gloomy boughs
Had charms for him ; and here he loved to sit,
His only visitants a straggling sheep,
The stone-chat, or the glancing sand-piper :
And on these barren rocks, with fern and heath,
And juniper and thistle, sprinkled o’er,
Fixing his downcast
A morbid pleasure nourished, tracing here
An emblem of his own unfruitful life:
And, lifting up his head, he then would gaze
On the more distant scene,—how lovely ’tis
Thou seest,—and he would gaze till it became
Far lovelier, and his heart could not sustain
The beauty, still more beauteous! Nor, that time,
When nature had subdued him to herself,
Would he forget those Beings to whose minds
Warm from the labours of benevolence
The world, and human life, appeared a scene
Of kindred loveliness : then he would sigh,
Inly disturbed, to think that others felt
What he must never feel : and so, lost Man !