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Their ancient neighbour, the old Steeple tower, The Vicar from his gloomy house hard by Came forth to greet me; and when he had asked, “ How fares Joanna, that wild-hearted Maid! And when will she return to us?” he paused; And, after short exchange of village news, He with grave looks demanded, for what cause, Reviving obsolete Idolatry, I, like a Runic Priest, in characters. Of formidable size had chisseled out Some uncouth name upon the native rock, Above the Rotha, by the forest side. -Now, by those dear immunities of heart Engendered betwixt malice and true love, I was not loth to be so catechized, And this was my reply :-“ As it befel, One summer morning we had walked abroad Át break of day, Joanna and myself. —'Twas that delightful season, when the broom, Full-flowered, and visible on every steep, Along the copses runs in veins of gold. Our pathway led us on to Rotha's banks; And when we came in front of that tall rock Which looks towards the East, I there stopped short, And traced the lofty barrier with my eye From base to summit; such delight I found
To note in shrub and tree, in stone and flower,
That intermixture of delicious hues,
Along so vast a surface, all at once,
In one impression, by connecting force
Of their own beauty, imaged in the heart.
-When I had gazed perhaps two ininutes' space,
Joanna, looking in my eyes, beheld
That ravishment of mine, and laughed aloud.
The rock, like something starting from a sleep,
Took up the Lady's voice, and laughed again :
That ancient Woman seated on Helm-crag
Was ready with her cavern; Hammar-Scar,
And the tall Steep of Silver-How sent forth
A noise of laughter; southern Loughrigg heard,
And Fairfield answered with a mountain tone:
Helvellyn far into the clear blue sky
Carried the Lady's voice,-old Skiddaw blew
His speaking-trumpet;-back out of the clouds
Of Glaramara southward came the voice;
And Kirkstone tossed it from his misty head.
-Now whether, (said I to our cordial Friend
Who in the hey-day of astonishment
Smiled in my face) this were in simple truth
A work accomplished by the brotherhood
Of ancient mountains, or my ear was touched
With dreains and visionary impulses,
Is not for me to tell; but sure I am
That there was a loud uproar in the hills :
And, while we both were listening, to my side
The fair Joanna drew, as if she wished
To shelter from some object of her fear.
---And hence, long afterwards, when eighteen moons
Were wasted, as I chanced to walk alone
Beneath this rock, at sun-rise, on a calm
And silent morning, I sat down, and there,
In memory of affections old and true,
I chisseled out in those rude characters
Joanna's name upon the living stone.
And I, and all who dwell by my fire-side,
Have called the lovely rock, JOANNA's Rock."
Note.-In Cumberland and Westmoreland are several Inscriptions, upon the native rock, which, from the wasting of Time, and the rudeness of the Workmanship, have been mistaken for Runic. They are without doubt Roman.
The Rotha, mentioned in this poem, is the River which, flowing through the Lakes of Grasmere and Rydale, falls into Wyndermere. On HelmCrag, that impressive single Mountain at the head of the Vale of Grasmere, is a Rock which from most points of view bears a striking resemblance to an Old Woman cowering. Close by this rock is one of those Fissures or Caverns, which in the language of the Country are called Dungeons. Most of the Mountains here mentioned immediately surround the Vale of Grasmere; of the others, some are at a considerable distance, but they belong to the same cluster.
There is an Eminence,-of these our hills
The last that parleys with the setting sun.
We can behold it from our Orchard-seat;
And, when at evening we pursue our walk
Along the public way, this Cliff, so high
Above us, and so distant in its height,
Is visible; and often seems to send
Its own deep quiet to restore our hearts.
The meteors make of it a favourite haunt:
The star of Jove, so beautiful and large
In the mid heavens, is never half so fair
As when he shines above it. 'Tis in truth
The loneliest place we have among the clouds.
And She who dwells with me, whom I have loved
With such communion, that no place on earth
Can ever be a solitude to me,
Hath to this lonely summit given my Name.
A NARROW girdle of rough stones and crags,
A rude and natural causeway, interposed
Between the water and a winding slope
Of copse and thicket, leaves the eastern shore
Of Grasmere safe in its own privacy.
And there, myself and two beloved Friends,
One calm September morning, ere the mist;
Had altogether yielded to the sun,
Sauntered on this retired and difficult way.
Ill suits the road with one in haste, but we
Played with our time; and, as we strolled along,
It was our occupation to observe
Such objects as the waves had tossed ashore,
Feather, or leaf, or weed, or withered bough,
Each on the other heaped along the line
Of the dry wreck. And, in our vacant mood,
Not seldom did we stop to watch some tuft
Of dandelion seed or thistle's beard,