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Her life was turning, turning,
In mazes of heat and sound;
And now peace laps her round.
Her cabin'd, ample spirit,
It flutter'd and fail'd for breath;
THE SCHOLAR GIPSY There was very lately a lad in the University of Oxford, who was by his poverty forced to leave his studies there ; and at last to join himself to a company of vagabond gipsies. Among these extravagant people, by the insinuating subtilly of his carriage, he quickly got so much of their love and esteem as that they discovered to him their mystery. After he had been a pretty while well exercised in the trade, there chanced to ride by a couple of scholars, who had formerly been of his acquaintance. They quickly spied out their old friend among the gipsies; and he gave them an account of the necessity which drove him to that kind of life, and told them that the people he went with were not such impostors as they were taken for, but that they had a traditional kind of learning among them, and coud do wonders by the power of imagination, their fancy binding that of others : that himself had learned much of their art, and when he had compassed the whole secret, he intended, he said, to leave their company, and give the world an account of what he had learned.' -GLANVIL'S Vanity of Dogmatizing, 1661.
Go, for they call you, shepherd, from the hill !
No longer leave thy wistful flock unfed,
But when the fields are still,
And only the white sheep are sometimes seen
green, Come, shepherd, and again begin the quesi ! 10
Here, where the reaper was at work of late-
His coat, his basket, and his earthen cruse, And in the sun all morning binds the sheaves, Then here, at noon, comes back his stores to
Here will I sit and wait,
The bleating of the folded flocks is borne,
With distant cries of reapers in the cornAll the live murmur of a summer's day. 20
Screen'd is this nook o’er the high, half-reap'd field And here till sun-down, shepherd, will I be!
Through the thick corn the scarlet poppies peep, And round green roots and yellowing stalks I see Pale blue convolvulus in tendrils creep ;
And air-swept lindens yield Their scent, and rustle down their perfumed
showers Of bloom on the bent grass where I am laid,
And bower me from the August sun with shade; And the eye travels down to Oxford's towers.
And near me on the grass lies Glanvil's book-
The story of that Oxford scholar poor,
One summer morn forsook His friends, and went to learn the gipsy lore, And roam'd the world with that wild brotherhood,
38 And came, as most men deem'd, to little good, But came to Oxford and his friends no more.
But once, years after, in the country-lanes,
Met him, and of his way of life inquir’d.
Whereat he answer'd, that the gipsy crew, His mates, had arts to rule as they desired
The workings of men's brains ; And they can bind them to what thoughts they will.
• And I,' he said, 'the secret of their art,
When fully learn’d, will to the world impart; But it needs heaven-sent moments for this skill ! This said, he left them, and return'd no more.— But rumours hung about the country-side
That the lost Scholar long was seen to stray, Seen by rare glimpses, pensive and tongue-tied, In hat of antique shape, and cloak of grey,
The same the gipsies wore.
At some lone alehouse in the Berkshire moors,
And put the shepherds, wanderer, on thy trace; And boys who in lone wheatfields scare the rooks I ask if thou hast pass'd their quiet place ;
Or in my boat I lie Moor'd to the cool bank in the summer heats,
Midwidegrass meadows which the sunshine fills,
And watch the warm green-muffied Cumnerhills, And wonder if thou haunt'st their shy retreats. For most, I know, thou lov'st retired ground ! 71 Thee, at the ferry, Oxford riders blithe,
Returning home on summer nights, have met Crossing the stripling Thames at Bablock-hithe, Trailing in the cool stream thy fingers wet,
As the punt's rope chops round;
And fostering in thy lap a heap of flowers
bowers, And thine eyes resting on the moonlit stream!
And then they land, and thou art seen no more ! Maidens who from the distant hamlets come
To dance around the Fyfield elm in May,
eves, And purple orchises with spotted leaves But none has words she can report of thee. 90 And, above Godstow Bridge, when hay-time’s here In June, and many a scythe in sunshine flames, Men who through those wide fields of breezy
grass Where black-wing'd swallows haunt the glittering
Have often pass'd thee near
Mark'd thine outlandish garb, thy figure spare,
Thy dark vague eyes, and soft abstracted airBut, when they came from bathing, thou wert
gone! At some lone homestead in the Cumner hills, Where at her open door the housewife darns,
Thou hast been seen, or hanging on a gate To watch the threshers in the mossy barns. Children, who early range these slopes and late
For cresses from the rills,
The springing pastures and the feeding kine;
Pitch their smoked tents, and every bush you see
With scarlet patches tagg’d and shreds of grey, Above the forest-ground callid Thessaly
The blackbird picking food Sees thee, nor stops his meal, nor fears at all !
So often has he known thee past him stray
Rapt, twirling in thy hand a wither'd spray, And waiting for the spark from Heaven to fall. And once, in winter, on the causeway chill Where home through flooded fields foot-travellers
go, Have I not pass'd thee on the wooden bridge Wrapt in thy cloak and battling with the snow Thy face toward Hinksey and its wintry ridge ?
And thou hast climb'd the hill And gain’d the white brow of the Cumner range ; Turn'd once to watch, while thick the snowflakes
fall, The line of festal light in Christ-Church hall Then sought thy straw in
thy straw in some sequester'd
grange. But what I dream! Two hundred years are
flown Since first thy story ran through Oxford halls,
And the grave Glanvil did the tale inscribe That thou wert wander'd from the studious walls To learn strange arts, and join a gipsy tribe.
And thou from earth art gone Long since, and in some quiet churchyard laid ! Some country nook, where o'er thy unknown
grave Tall grasses and white flowering nettles waveUnder a dark red-fruited yew-tree's shade. 140 —No, no, thou hast not felt the lapse of hours ! For what wears out the life of mortal men ? 'Tis that from change to change their being
rolls ; 'Tis that repeated shocks, again, again,
Exhaust the energy of strongest souls, 145