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An hour ago
the storm was here,
The gleam was far behind,
So will our joys and grief appear,
When earth has ceased to blind.
Grief will be joy if on its edge
Fall soft that holiest
Joy will be grief if no faint pledge
Be there of heavenly day.
Some to the holly hedge,
Nestling repair, and to the thicket some;
Some to the rude protection of the thorn
Commit their feeble offspring. The cleft tree
Offers its kind concealment to a few,
Their food its insects, and its moss their nests.
Others apart far in the grassy dale,
Or roughening waste, their humble texture weave,
But most in woodland solitudes delight,
In unfrequented glooms, or shaggy banks,
Steep, and divided by a babbling brook,
Whose murmurs soothe them all the livelong day,
When by kind duty fixed. Among the roots
Of hazel, pendent o'er the plaintive stream,
They frame the first foundation of their domes;
Dry sprigs of trees, in artful fabric laid,
And bound with clay together. Now 'tis nought
But restless hurry through the busy air,
Beat by unnumbered wings. The swallow sweeps
The slimy pool, to build his hanging house,
Intent. And often, from the careless back
Of herds and flocks, a thousand tugging bills
Pluck hair and wool; and oft, when unobserved,
Steal from the barn a straw; till soft and warm,
Clean and complete, their habitation grows.
THERE went three kings into the East,
Three kings both great and high,
And they hae sworn a solemn oath
John Barleycorn should die.
They took a plough and ploughed him down,
Put clods upon his head,
And they hae sworn a solemn oath,
John Barleycorn was dead.
But the cheerful spring came kindly on,
And showers began to fall;
John Barleycorn got up again,
And sore surprised them all.
The sultry suns of summer came,
And he grew thick and strong,
His head well armed wi' pointed spears,
That no one should him wrong.
The sober autumn entered mild,
When he grew wan and pale;
His bending joints and drooping head
Show'd he began to fail.
His colour sickened more and more,
He faded into age;
And then his enemies began
To show their deadly rage.
They've ta'en a weapon long and sharp,
And cut him by the knee;
And tied him fast upon the cart,
Like a rogue for forgerie.
They laid him down upon his back,
And cudgell'd him full sore;
They hung him up before the storm,
And turn'd him o'er and o'er.
They filled up a darksome pit
With water to the brim,
They heaved in John Barleycorn,
There let him sink or swim.
They laid him out upon the floor,
To work him further woe,
And still, as signs of life appear'd
They toss'd him to and fro.
They wasted, o'er a scorching flame,
The marrow of his bones;
But a miller used him worst of all,
For he crush'd him between two stones.
And they hae ta’en his very heart's blood,
And drank it round and round;
And still the more and more they drank,
Their joy did more abound.
John Barleycorn was a hero bold,
Of noble enterprise;
For if you do but taste his blood,
'Twill make your courage rise.
Then let us toast John Barleycorn,
Each man a glass in hand;
19.—THE RAVEN AND THE OAK.
UNDERNEATH an old oak tree
There was of swine a huge company,
That grunted as they crunch'd the mast:
For that was ripe and fell full fast.
Then they trotted away, for the wind it grew high:
One acorn they left and no more might you spy.
Next came a raven that liked not such folly ;
He belonged, they did say, to the witch Melancholy!
Blacker was he than blackest jet,
Flew low in the rain and his feathers got wet.
He picked up the acorn and buried it straight
By the side of a river both deep and great.
Where then did the raven go?
He went high and low,
Over hill, over dale, did the black raven go.
Many autumns, many springs
Travelled he with wandering wings;
Many summers, many winters-
I can't tell half his adventures.
At length he came back, and with him a she,
And the acorn was grown to a tall oak tree.
They built them a nest in the topmost bough,
And young ones they had and were happy enow.
But soon came a woodman in leathern guise,
His brow, like a pent house, hung over his eyes.
He'd an axe in his hand, not a word he spoke,
But with many a hew! and a sturdy stroke,
At length he brought down the poor raven's old oak.
His young ones were killed for they could not depart,
And their mother did die of a broken heart.
The boughs from the trunk the woodman did sever;
And they floated it down on the course of the river,
They sawed it in planks, and its bark they did strip,
And with this tree and others they made a good ship.
The ship it was launched; but in sight of the land
Such a storm there did rise as no ship could withstand.
It bulged on a rock, and the waves rushed in fast:
Round and round flew the raven and cawed to the blast.
He heard the last shriek of the perishing souls-
See! see! o'er the top-mast the mad water rolls !
Right glad was the raven, and off he went fleet,
And Death riding home on a cloud he did meet
And he thanked him again and again for this treat:
They had taken his all, and revenge it was sweet!
20.—THE WHITE SQUALL.
On deck, beneath the awning,
I dozing lay and yawning;
It was the grey of dawning,
Ere yet the sun arose;
And above the funnel's roaring,
And the fitful wind's deploring,
I heard the cabin snoring
With universal nose.
I could hear the passengers snorting,
I envied their disporting,
Vainly I was courting
The pleasure of a doze.
So I lay, and wondered why light
Came not, and watched the twilight
And the glimmer of the skylight,
That shot across the deck;
And the binnacle pale and steady,
And the dull glimpse of the dead eye,