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XIX.

THE SOLITARY REAPER.

Behold her, single in the field,
Yon solitary Highland Lass!
Reaping and singing by herself;
Stop here, or gently pass!
Alone she cuts, and binds the grain,
And sings a melancholy strain;
O listen! for the Vale profound
Is overflowing with the sound.

No Nightingale did ever chaunt

So sweetly to reposing bands

Of Travellers in some shady haunt,

Among Arabian Sands:

No sweeter voice was ever heard

In spring-time from the Cuckoo-bird,

Breaking the silence of the seas

Among the farthest Hebrides.

Will no one tell me what she sings?
Perhaps the plaintive numbers flow
For old, unhappy, far-off things,
And battles long ago:
Or is it some more humble lay,
Familiar matter of to-day?
Some natural sorrow, loss, or pain,
That has been, and may be again!

Whate'er the theme, the Maiden sang
As if her song could have no ending;
I saw her singing at her work,
And o'er the sickle bending;—
I listened till I had my fill:
And, as I mounted up the hill,
The music in my heart I bore,
Long after it was heard no more.

XX.

i

WRITTEN IN MARCH,

While resting on the Bridge at the Foot of Brother's Water,

The cock is crowing, The stream is flowing, The small birds twitter, The lake doth glitter,
The green field sleeps in the sun;The oldest and youngest Are at work with the strongest;The cattle are grazing, Their heads never raising;There are forty feeding like one!

Like an army defeated

The Snow hath retreated,

And now doth fare ill

On the top of the bare hill; The Plough-boy is whooping—anon—anon:

There's joy in the mountains;

There's life in the fountains;

Small clouds are sailing,

Blue sky prevailing;
The rain is over and gone!

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Yet are they here?—the same unbroken knot
Of human Beings, in the self-same spot!

Men, Women, Children, yea the frame

Of the whole Spectacle the same! Only their fire seems bolder, yielding light, Now deep and red, the colouring of night;

That on their Gipsy-faces falls,

Their bed of straw and blanket-walls. —Twelve hours, twelve bounteous hours, are gone while I Have been a Traveller under open sky,

Much witnessing of change and cheer,

Yet as I left I find them here!

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