« AnteriorContinuar »
We walked along, while bright and red
Uprose the morning sun;
And Matthew stopped, he looked, and said,
“The will of God be done!'
A village schoolmaster was he,
With hair of glittering grey; ?
As blithe a man as you could see
On a spring holiday.
And on that morning, through the grass,
And by the steaming rills,
We travelled merrily, to pass
A day among the hills.
Our work,' said I, 'was well begun :
Then, from thy breast what thought,
Beneath so beautiful a sun,
So sad a sigh has brought?'
A second time did Matthew stop,
And fixing still his eye
Upon the eastern mountain-top,
To me he made reply:
'Yon cloud with that long purple cleft
Brings fresh into my mind
A day like this which I have left
Full thirty years behind.
And just above yon slope of corn
Such colours, and no other,
Were in the sky, that April morn,
Of this the very brother.
With rod and line I sued the sport
Which that sweet season gave,
And, to the church-yard come, stopped short
Beside my daughter's grave.
Nine summers had she scarcely seen,
The pride of all the vale :
And then she sang ;-she would have been
A very nightingale.
Six feet in earth my Emma lay ;
And yet I loved her more,
For so it seemed, than till that day
I e'er had loved before.
And, turning from her grave, I met,
Beside the churchyard yew,
A blooming Girl, whose hair was wet
With points of morning dew.
A basket on her head she bare ;
Her brow was smooth and white :
To see a child so very fair,
It was a pure delight !
No fountain from its rocky cave
E’er tripped with foot so free;
She seemed as happy as a wave
That dances on the sea.
There came from me a sigh of pain
Which I could ill confine ;
I looked at her, and looked again :
And did not wish her mine !'
Matthew is in his grave, yet now,
Methinks, I see him stand,
As at that moment, with a bough
Of wilding in his hand.
THE FOUNTAIN. A CONVERSATION.
We talked with open heart, and tongue
Affectionate and true,
A pair of friends, though I was young,
And Matthew seventy-two.
We lay beneath a spreading oak,
Beside a mossy seat ;
And froin the turf a fountain broke,
And gurgled at our feet.
“Now, Matthew!' said I, 'let us match
This water's pleasant tune
With some old border-song, or catch
That suits a summer's noon;
Or of the church-clock and the chimes
Sing here beneath the shade,
That half-mad thing of witty rhymes
Which you last April made !'
In silence Matthew lay, and eyed
The spring beneath the tree ;
And thus the dear old Man replied,
The grey-haired man of glee :
“No check, no stay, this Streamlet fears :
How merrily it goes !
'Twill murmur on a thousand years,
And flow as now it flows.
And here, on this delightful day,
I cannot choose but think
How oft, a vigorous man, I lay
Beside this fountain's brink.
My eyes are dim with childish tears,
My heart is idly stirred,
For the same sound is in my ears
Which in those days I heard.
Thus fares it still in our decay :
And yet the wiser mind
Mourns less for what age takes away
Than what it leaves behind.
The blackbird amid leafy trees,
The lark above the hill,
Let loose their carols when they please,
Are quiet when they will.
With Nature never do they wage
A foolish strife ; they see
A happy youth, and their old age
Is beautiful and free :
But we are pressed by heavy laws;
And often, glad no more,
We wear a face of joy, because
We have been glad of yore.
If there be one who need bemoan
His kindred laid in earth,
The household hearts that were his own,
It is the man of mirth.
My days, my Friend, are almost gone,
My life has been approved,
And many love me; but by none
Am I enough beloved.'
Now both himself and me he wrongs,
The man who thus complains !
I live and sing my idle songs
Upon these happy plains;
And, Matthew, for thy children dead
I'll be a son to thee!'
At this he grasped my hand, and said,
'Alas! that cannot be.'
We rose up from the fountain-side ;
And down the smooth descent
Of the green sheep-track did we glide ;
And through the wood we went ;
And, ere we came to Leonard's rock,
He sang those witty rhymes
About the crazy old church-clock,
And the bewildered chimes.
There was a Boy; ye knew him well, ye cliffs
And islands of Winander !—many a time,
At evening, when the earliest stars began
To move along the edges of the hills,
Rising or setting, would he stand alone,
Beneath the trees, or by the glimmering lake ;
And there, with fingers interwoven, both hands
Pressed closely palm to palm and to his mouth
Uplifted, he, as through an instrument,
Blew mimic hootings to the silent owls,
That they might answer him.-And they would shou:
Across the watery vale, and shout again,
Responsive to his call,—with quivering peals,
And long halloos, and screams, and echoes loud
Redoubled and redoubled ; concourse wild
Of jocund din! And, when there came a pause
Of silence such as baffled his best skill :
Then, sometimes, in that silence, while he hung
Listening, a gentle shock of mild surprise
Has carried far into his heart the voice
Of mountain-torrents ; or the visible scene
Would enter unawares into his mind
With all its solemn imagery, its rocks,
Its woods, and that uncertain heaven received
Into the bosom of the steady lake.
This boy was taken from his mates, and died In childhood, ere he was full twelve years old. Pre-eminent in beauty is the vale Where he was born and bred : the church-yard hangs Upon a slope above the village-school ;