Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB
[blocks in formation]

With a few sheep, with rocks and stones, and kites That overhead are sailing in the sky. It is in truth an utter solitude; Nor should I have made mention of this Dell But for one object which you might pass by, Might see and notice not. Beside the brook Appears a straggling heap of unhewn stones! And to that place a story appertains, Which, though it be ungarnished with events, Is not unfit, I deem, for the fireside, Or for the summer shade. It was the first Of those domestic tales that spake to me Of Shepherds, dwellers in the valleys, men Whom I already loved; — not verily For their own sakes, but for the fields and hills Where was their occupation and abode. And hence this Tale, while I was yet a Boy Careless of books, yet having felt the power Of Nature, by the gentle agency Of natural objects led me on to feel For passions that were not my own, and think (At random and imperfectly indeed) On man, the heart of man, and human life. Therefore, although it be a history Homely and rude, I will relate the same For the delight of a few natural hearts; And, with yet fonder feeling, for the sake Of youthful Poets, who among these Hills Will be my second self when I am gone.

Upon the Forest-side in Grasmere Vale There dwelt a Shepherd, Michael was his name, An old man, stout of heart, and strong of limb. His bodily frame had been from youth to age Of an unusual strength: his mind was keen, Intense, and frugal, apt for all affairs, And in his Shepherd's calling he was prompt And watchful more than ordinary men. Hence had he learned the meaning of all winds, Of blasts of every tone; and, oftentimes, When others heeded not, he heard the South Make subterraneous music, like the noise Of Bagpipers on distant Highland hills. The Shepherd, at such warning, of his flock Bethought him, and he to himself would say, "The winds are now devising work for me!" And, truly, at all times, the storm — that drives The Traveller to a shelter summoned him Up to the mountains: he had been alone Amid the heart of many thousand mists, That came to him and left him on the heights. So lived he till his eightieth year was past. And grossly that man errs, who should suppose That the green Valleys, and the Streams and Rocks, Were things indifferent to the Shepherd's thoughts. Fields, where with cheerful spirits he had breathed The common air; the hills, which he so oft Had climbed with vigorous steps ; which had impressed

She turned, she lossed herself in bed,
On all sides doubts and terrors met her;
Point after point did she discuss;
And, while her mind was fighting thus,
Her body still grew better.

" Alas! what is become of them?
These fears can never be endured,
I'll to the wood."— The word scarcy said,
Did Susan rise up from her bed,
As if by magic cured.

Away she posts up hill and down,
And to the wood at length is come;
She spies her Friends, she shouts a greeting;
Oh me! it is a merry meeting
As ever was in Christendom.

The Owls have hardly sung their last,
While our four Travellers homeward wend;
The Owls have hooted all night long,
And with the Owls began my song,
And with the Owls must end.

1

For while they all were travelling home,
Cried Betty, “Tell us, Johnny, do,
Where all this long night you have been,
What you have heard, what you have seen,
And, Johnny, mind you tell us true.”

Now Johnny all night long had heard
The Owls in tuneful concert strive;
No doubt too he the Moon had seen;
For in the moonlight he had been
From eight o'clock till five.

And thus, to Betty's question, he
Made answer, like a Traveller bold,
(His very words I give to you,)
" The Cocks did crow to-whoo, to-whoo,
And the sun did shine so cold."
- Thus answered Johnny in his glory,
And that was all his travel's story.

MICHAEL

A PASTORAL POEM.

le from the public way you turn your steps
l'p the tumultuous brook of Green-head Ghyll,
l'ou will suppose that with an upright path
l'our feet must struggle; in such bold ascent
The pastoral Mountains front you, face to face.
Bit

, caurage! for around that boisterous Brook
The mountains have all opened out themselves,
And made a hidden valley of their own.
No habitation can be seen; but they
Wzo journey thither find themselves alone

So many
incidents

upon
his mind

And now, when Luke had reached his eighteenth just Of hardship, skill or courage, joy or fear;

There by the light of this old Lamp they sat, Which, like a book, preserved the memory

Father and Son, while late into the night Of the dumb animals, whom he had saved,

The Housewife plied her own peculiar work, Had fed or sheltered, linking to such acts,

Making the cottage through the silent hours The certainty of honourable gain,

Murmur as with the sound of summer flies. Those fields, those hills — what could they less ? had This Light was famous in its neighbourhood, laid

And was a public Symbol of the life Strong hold on his affections, were to him

That thrifty Pair had lived. For, as it chanced, A pleasurable feeling of blind love,

Their Cottage on a plot of rising ground The pleasure which there is in life itself.

Stood single, with large prospect, North and South

High into Easedale, up to Dummail-Raise, His days had not been past in singleness.

And westward to the village near the Lake; His helpmate was a comely Matron, old

And from this constant light, so regular Though younger than himself full twenty years. And so far seen, the House itself, by all She was a woman of a stirring life,

Who dwelt within the limits of the vale, Whose heart was in her house: two wheels she had Both old and young, was named Tue EVENING STAR Of antique form, this large for spinning wool,

Thus living on through such a length of years, 'That small for fax; and if one wheel had rest,

The Shepherd, if he loved himself, must needs
It was because the other was at work.
The Pair had but one inmate in their house,

Have loved his Helpmate; but to Michael's heart

This Son of his old age was yet more dear –
An only Child, who had been born to them,
When Michael, telling o'er his years, began

Less from instinctive tenderness, the same
To deem that he was old, -- in Shepherd's phrase,

Blind Spirit, which is in the blood of all —

Than that a child, more than all other gifts,
With one foot in the grave. This only Son,
With two brave Sheep-dogs tried in many a storm,

Brings hope with it, and forward-looking thoughts, The one of an inestimable worth,

And stirrings of inquietude, when they Made all their Household. I may truly say,

By tendency of nature needs must fail. That they were as a proverb in the vale

Exceeding was the love he bare to him, För endless industry. When day was gone,

His Heart and his Heart's joy! For oftentimes

Old Michael, while he was a babe in arnis,
And from their occupations out of doors

Had done him female service, not alone
The Son and Father were come home, even then,
Their labour did not cease; unless when all

For pastime and delight, as is the use
Turned to their cleanly supper-board, and there,

Of Fathers, but with patient mind enforced

To acts of tenderness; and he had rocked
Each with a mess of pottage and skimmed milk,

His cradle with a woman's gentle hand.
Sat round their basket piled with oaten cakes,
And their plain home-made cheese. Yet when their meal And, in a later time, ere yet the Boy
Was ended, LUKE (for so the Son was named)

Had put on boy's attire, did Michael love,
And his old Father both betook themselves

Albeit of a stern unbending mind, To such convenient work as might employ

To have the Young-one in his sight, when he Their hands by the fire-side ; perhaps to card

Had work by his own door, or when he sat Wool for the Housewife's spindle, or repair

With sheep before him on his Shepherd's stool, Some injury done to sickle, fail, or scythe,

Beneath that large old Oak, which near their duce Or other implement of house or field.

Stood, — and, from its enormous breadth of shade

Chosen for the Shearer's covert from the sun, Down from the ceiling, by the chimney's edge,

Thence in our rustic dialect was called That in our ancient uncouth country style

The Clipping Tree*, a name which yet it bears Did with a huge projection overbrow

There, while they two were sitting in the shade. Large space beneath, as duly as the light

With others round them, earnest all and blithe,

Would Michael exercise his heart with looks
Of day grew dim the Housewife hung a Lamp;
An aged utensil, which had performed

Of fond correction and reproof bestowed
Service beyond all others of its kind.

Upon the Child, if he disturbed the sheep Early at evening did it burn and late,

By catching at their legs, or with his shouls Surviving Comrade of uncounted Plours,

Scared them, while they lay still beneath the shears Which, going by from year to year, had found,

And when by Heaven's good grace the Boy grew And left the couple neither gay perhaps

A healthy Lad, and carried in his cheek
Nor cheerful, yet with objects and with hopes,
Living a life of eager industry.

*Clipping is the word used in the North of England for share

Has scarcely been more diligent than I; And I have lived to be a fool at last To my own family. An evil Man That was, and made an evil choice, if he Were false to us; and if he were not false, There are ten thousand to whom loss like this Had been no sorrow. I forgive him - but 'T were better to be dumb than to talk thus. When I began, my purpose was to speak Of remedies, and of a cheerful hope. Our Luke shall leave us, Isabel; the land Shall not go from us, and it shall be free; He shall possess it, free as is the wind That passes over it. We have, thou know'st, Another Kinsman — he will be our friend In this distress. He is a prosperous man, Thriving in trade — and Luke to him shall go, And with his Kinsman's help and his own thrift He quickly will repair this loss, and then May come again to us. If here he stay, What can be done? Where every one is poor, What can be gained ?" At this the Old Man paused, And Isabel sat silent, for her mind Was busy, looking back into past times. There's Richard Bateman, thought she to herself, He was a Parish-boy at the Church-door They made a gathering for him, shillings, pence, And halfpennies, wherewith the neighbours bought A Basket, which they filled with Pedlar's wares; And, with this Basket on his arm, the Lad Went up to London, found a Master there, Who, out of many, chose the trusty Boy To go and overlook his merchandise Beyond the seas; where he grew wondrous rich, And left estates and moneys to the poor, And, at his birth-blace, built a Chapel floored With Marble, which he sent from foreign lands. These thoughts, and many others of like sort, Passed quickly through the mind of Isabel, And her face brightened. The Old Man was glad, And thus resumed:-“Well, Isabel! this scheme, These two days, has been meat and drink to me. Far more than we have lost is left us yet.

- We have enough — I wish indeed that I Were younger, — but this hope is a good hope.

- Make ready Luke's best garments, of the best
Buy for him more, and let us send him forth
To-morrow, or the next day, or to-night:
- If he could go, the Boy should go to-night."
Here Michael ceased, and to the fields went forth
With a light heart. The Housewife for five days
Was restless morn and night, and all day long
Wrought on with her best fingers to prepare
Things needful for the journey of her son.
But Isabel was glad when Sunday came
To stop her in her work: for, when she lay
By Michael's side, she through the two last nights
Heard him, how he was troubled in his sleep.

Two steady roses that were five years old,
Then Michael from a winter coppice cut
With his own hand a sapling, which he hooped
With iron, making it throughout in all
Due requisites a perfect Shepherd's Staff,
And gave it to the Boy; wherewith equipt
He as a Watchman oftentimes was placed
At gate or gap, to stem or turn the flock;
And, to his office prematurely called.

There stood the Urchin, as you will divine,
L! Something between a hinderance and a help;

And for this cause not always, I believe,
Receiving from his Father hire of praise;
Though nought was left undone which staff, or voice,
Or looks, or threatening gestures, could perform.

But soon as Luke, full ten years old, could stand
Agrinst the mountain blasts; and to the heights,
Not fearing toil, nor length of weary ways,
He with his father daily went, and they
Were as companions, why should I relate
That objects which the Shepherd loved before
Were dearer now ? that from the Boy there came
Peelings and emanations — things which were
light to the sun and Music to the wind;
And that the Old Man's heart seemed born again?

1

Thus in his Father's sight the Boy grew up:
And now, when he had reached his eighteenth year,
He was his comfort and his daily hope.

1

Tunt

While in this sort the simple Household lived Prom day to day, to Michael's ear there came Distressful tidings. Long before the time Of which I speak, the Shepherd had been bound In surety for his Brother's Son, a man Of an industrious life, and ample means, But unforeseen misfortunes suddenly Had prest upon him, — and old Michael now Was summoned to discharge the forfeiture, A grierous penalty, but little less Than half his substance. This unlooked-for claim, At the first hearing, for a moment took llore hope out of his life than he supposed

any old man ever could have lost. As

soon as he had gathered so much strength That he could look his trouble in the face, It seemed that his sole refuge was to sell 1 portion of his patrimonial fields. Soch was his first resolve; he thought again, And his heart failed him. “Isabel," said he, Two evenings after he had heard the news, "I have been toiling more than seventy years, And in the open sunshine of God's love llare we all lived ; yet if these fields of ours Sivuld pass into a Stranger's hand, I think T'hat I could not lie quiet in my grave, Our lot is a hard lot; the sun himself

And when they rose at morning she could see That all his hopes were gone. That day at noon She said to Luke, while they two by themselves Were sitting at the door, “ Thou must not go : We have no other Child but thee to lose, None to remember - do not go away, For if thou leave thy Father he will die.” The Youth made answer with a jocund voice; And Isabel, when she had told her fears, Recovered heart. That evening her best fare Did she bring forth, and all together sat Like happy people round a Christinas fire.

With daylight Isabel resumed her work; And all the ensuing week the house appeared As cheerful as a grove in Spring: at length The expected letter from their Kinsman came, With kind assurances that he would do Ilis utmost for the welfare of the Boy; To which, requests were added, that forth with He might be sent to him. Ten times or more The letter was read over ; Isabel Went forth to show it to the neighbours round; Nor was there at that time on English land A prouder heart than Luke's. When Isabel Had to her house returned, the Old Man said, “He shall depart to-morrow.” To this word The Housewife answered, talking much of things Which, if at such short notice he should go, Would surely be forgotten. But at length She gave consent, and Michael was at ease.

When thou, a feeding babe, didst in thy joy Sing at thy Mother's breast. Month followed month, And in the open fields my life was passed And on the mountains; else I think that thou Hadst been brought up upon thy Father's knees. But we were playmates, Luke: among these hills, As well thou knowest, in us the old and young Ilave played together, nor with me didst thou Lack any pleasure which a boy can know." Luke had a manly heart; but at these words He sobbed aloud. The Old Man grasped his hand, And said, “Nay, do not take it so - I see That these are things of which I need not speak. - Even to the utmost I have been to thee A kind and a good Father: and herein I but repay a gift which I myself Received at others' hands; for, though now old Beyond the common life of man, I still Remember them who loved me in my youth. Both of them sleep together: here they lived, As all their Forefathers had done; and when At length their time was come, they were not loth To give their bodies to the family mould. I wished that thou shouldst live the life they lived. But, 't is a long time to look back, my Son, And see so little gain from threescore years. These fields were burthened when they came to me Till I was forty years of age, not more Than half of my inheritance was mine. I toiled and toiled; God blessed me in my

work, And till these three weeks past the land was free.

It looks as if it never could endure
Another Master. Heaven forgive me, Luke,
If I judge ill for thee, but it seems good
That thou shouldst go.” At this the Old Man paused
Then, pointing to the Stones near which they stood.
Thus, after a short silence, he resumed :

This was a work for us; and now, my Son,
It is a work for me. But, lay one Stone -
Ilere, lay it for me, Luke, with thine own hands.
Nay, Boy, be of good hope ;

may

live To see a better day. At eighty-four I still am strong and hale; - do thou thy part: I will do mine. - I will begin again With many tasks that were resigned to thee: Up to the heights, and in among the storms, Will I without thee go again, and do All works which I was wont to do alone, Before I knew thy face. – Heaven bless thee, Boy! Thy heart these two weeks has been beating fast With many hopes — It should be so— Yes—yes — I knew that thou couldst never have a wish To leave me, Luke: thou hast been bound to me Only by links of love: when thou art gone, What will be left to us! - But, I forget My purposes. Lay now the corner-stone, As I requested; and hereafter, Luke,

we both

Near the tumultuous brook of Green-head Ghyll, In that deep Valley, Michael had designed To build a Sheep-fold; and before he heard The tidings of his melancholy loss, For this same purpose he had gathered up A heap of stones, which by the Streamlet's edge Lay thrown together, ready for the work. With Luke that evening thitherward he walked ; And soon as they had reached the place he stopped, And thus the Old Man spake to him: "My Son, To-morrow thou wilt leave me: with full heart I look upon thee, for thou art the same That wert a promise to me ere thy birth, And all thy life hast been my daily joy. I will relate to thee some little part Of our two histories; 't will do thee good When thou art from me, even if I should speak Of things thou canst not know of. After thou First camest into the world — as oft befalls To new-born infants — thou didst sleep away Two days, and blessings from thy Father's tongue Then fell upon thee. Day by day passed on, And still I loved thee with increasing love. Never to living ear came sweeter sounds Than when I heard thee by our own fire-side First uttering, without words, a natural tune;

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »