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So pass'd another day, and so the third ;
Then did I try in vain the crowd's resort.
In deep despair by frightful wishes stirr'd,
Near the sea-side I reached a ruined Fort:
There, pains which nature could no more support,
With blindness link'd, did on my vitals fall,
And I had many interruptions short
Of hideous sense; I sank, nor step could crawl,
And thence was carried to a neighbouring Hospital.
Recovery came with food : but still, my brain
Was weak, nor of the past had memory.
I heard my neighbours, in their beds, complain
Of many things which never troubled me;
Of feet still bustling round with busy glee;
Of looks where common kindness had no part;
Of service done with careless cruelty,
Fretting the fever round the languid heart;
And groans, which, as they said, would make a dead
These things just served to stir the torpid sense,
Nor pain nor pity in my bosom raised.
My memory and my strength returned; and thence
Dismissed, again on open day I gazed,
At houses, men, and common light, amazed,
The lanes I songht, and, as the sun retired,
Came where beneath the trees a faggot blazed ;
The Travellers saw me weep, my fate inquired,
And gave me food,—and rest, more welcome, more
My heart is touched to think that men like these,
Wild houseless Wanderers, were my first relief:
How kindly did they paint their vagrant ease,
And their long holiday that feared not grief!
For all belonged to all, and each was chief.
No plough their sinews strained ; on grating road
No wain they drove; and yet the yellow sheaf
In every vale for their delight was stow'd;
In every field, with milk their dairy overflow'd.
They with their pannier'd Asses semblance made
Of Potters wandering on from door to door :
But life of happier sort to me pourtray'd,
And other joys my fancy to allure ;
The bag-pipe dinning on the midnight moor
In barn uplighted, and Companions boon
Well met from far with revelry secure,
Among the forest glades, when jocund June
Rolled fast along the sky his warm and genial moon,
But ill they suited me; those journeys dark
O’er moor and mountain, midnight theft to hatch!
To charm the surly House-dog's faithful bark,
Or hang on tip-toe at the lifted latch;
The gloomy lantern, and the dim blue match,
The black disguise, the warning whistle shrill,
And ear still busy on its nightly watch,
Were not for me, brought up in nothing ill:
Besides, on griefs so fresh my thoughts were brooding
What could I do, unaided and unblest?
My Father! gone was every friend of thine :
And kindred of dead husband are at best
Small help; and, after marriage such as mine,
With little kindness would to me incline.
Ill was I then for toil or service fit:
With tears whose course no effort could confine,
By the road-side forgetful would I sit
Whole hours, my idle arms in moping sorrow knit.
I led a wandering life among the fields ;
Contentedly, yet sometimes self-accused,
I lived upon what casual bounty yields,
Now coldly given, now utterly refused.
The ground I for my bed have often used :
But, what afflicts my peace with keenest ruth
Is, that I have my inner self abused,
Forgone the home delight of constant truth,
And clear and open soul, so prized in fearless youth,
Three years thus wandering, often have I view'd,
In tears, the sun towards that country tend
Where my poor heart lost all its fortitude:
And now across this moor my steps I bend-
Oh! tell me whither- -for no earthly friend
Have I." She ceased, and weeping turned away,
As if because her tale was at an end
She wept ;-because she had no more to say
Of that perpetual weight which on her spirit lay.