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We make a kind of handsome show!
This explanation stilled the alarm, Cured the foreboder like a charm ; This, and the manner, and the voice, Summoned the Sailor to rejoice; His heart is up-he fears no evil From life or death, from man or devil; He wheels—and, making many stops, Brandished his crutch against the mountain tops; And, while he talked of blows and scars, Benjamin, among the stars, Beheld a dancing and a glancing; Such retreating and advancing As, I ween, was never seen In bloodiest battle since the days of Mars !
“ Ay,” said the Tar, “ through fair and foulBut save us from yon screeching owl ! " That instant was begun a fray Which called their thoughts another way : The mastiff, ill-conditioned carl ! What must he do but growl and snarl, Still more and more dissatisfied With the meek comrade at his side ! Till, not incensed though put to proof, The Ass, uplifting a hind hoof, Salutes the Mastiff on the head ; And so were better manners bred, And all was calmed and quieted.
“ Yon screech-owl,” says the Sailor, turning Back to his former cause of mourning, “ Yon owl !-pray God that all be well! 'Tis worse than any funeral bell ; As sure as I've the gift of sight, We shall be meeting ghosts to-night!” -Said Benjamin, “ This whip shall lay A thousand, if they cross our way. I know that Wanton's noisy station, I know him and his occupation; The jolly bird hath learned his cheer Upon the banks of Windermere ; Where a tribe of them make merry, Mocking the Man that keeps the ferry; Hallooing from an open throat, Like travellers shouting for a boat. - The tricks he learned at Windermere This vagrant owl is playing hereThat is the worst of his employment: He's at the top of his enjoyment !''
CANTO FOURTH. Thus they, with freaks of proud delight, Beguile the remnant of the night; And many a snatch of jovial song Regales them as they wind along; While to the music, from on high, The echoes make a glad reply.But the sage Muse the revel heeds No farther than her story needs; Nor will she servilely attend The loitering journey to its end. -Blithe spirits of her own impel The Muse, who scents the morning air, To take of this transported pair A brief and unreproved farewell ; To quit the slow-paced waggon's side, And wander down yon hawthorn dell, With murmuring Greta for her guide. - There doth she ken the awful form Of Raven-crag-black as a stormGlimmering through the twilight pale; And Ghimmer-crag, . his tall twin brother, Each peering forth to meet the other :And, while she roves through St. John's Vale, Along the smooth unpathwayed plain, By sheep-track or through cottage lane, Where no disturbance comes to intrude Upon the pensive solitude, Her unsuspecting eye, perchance, With the rude shepherd's favoured glance, Beholds the faeries in array, Whose party-coloured garments gay The silent company betray: Red, green, and blue; a moment's sight! For Skiddaw-top with rosy light Is touched-and all the band take flight.
* The crag of the ewe lamb.
- Fly also, Muse! and from the dell
Knowing what cause there is for shame,
The mists, that o'er the streamlet's bed Hung low, begin to rise and spread; Even while I speak, their skirts of grey Are smitten by a silver ray; And lo!-up Castrigg's naked steep (Where, smoothly urged, the vapours sweep Along-and scatter and divide, Like fleecy clouds self-multiplied) The stately waggon is ascending, With faithful Benjamin attending, Apparent now beside his teamNow lost amid a glittering steam: And with him goes his Sailor-friend, By this time near their journey's end; And, after their high-minded riot, Sickening into thoughtful quiet ; As if the morning's pleasant hour, Had for their joys a killing power. And, sooth, for Benjamin a vein Is opened of still deeper pain As if his heart by notes were stung From out the lowly hedge-rows flung; As if the warbler lost in light Reproved his soarings of the night, In strains of rapture pure and holy Upbraided his distempered folly.
Alas! what boots it who can hide, When the malicious Fates are bent On working out an ill intent? Can destiny be turned aside ? No-sad progress of my story! Benjamin, this outward glory Cannot shield thee from thy Master, Who from Keswick has pricked forth, Sour and surly as the north ; And, in fear of some disaster, Comes to give what help he may, And to hear what thou canst say; If, as needs he must forebode, Thou hast been loitering on the road! His fears, his doubts, may now take flightThe wished-for object is in sight; Yet, trust the Muse, it rather hath Stirred him up to livelier wrath ; Which he stifles, moody man! With all the patience that he can; To the end that, at your meeting, He may give thee decent greeting.
Drooping is he, his step is dull ; But the horses stretch and pull ; With increasing vigour climb, Eager to repair lost time; Whether, by their own desert,
There he is resolved to stop, Till the waggon gains the top ;
And sure it is, that through this night,
But stop he cannot-must advance :
Accept, 0 Friend, for praise or blame,
That in this uneventful place,
With eager eyes the Master pries; Looks in and out, and through and through ; Says nothing—till at last he spies A wound upon the Mastiff's head, A wound, where plainly might be read What feats an Ass's hoof can do! But drop the rest :-this aggravation, This complicated provocation, A hoard of grievances unsealed; All past forgiveness it repealed; And thus, and through distempered blood On both sides, Benjamin the good, The patient, and the tender-hearted, Was from his team and waggon parted; When duty of that day was o'er, Laid down his whip-and served no more.Nor could the waggon long survive, Which Benjamin had ceased to drive : It lingered on ;-guide after guide Ambitiously the office tried; But each unmanageable hill Called for his patience and his skill ;
-But most of all, thou lordly Wain!
The lame, the sickly, and the old ; Men, women, heartless with the cold; And babes in wet and starveling plight; Which once, be weather as it might, Had still a nest within a nest, Thy shelter and their mother's breast ! Then most of all, then far the most, Do I regret what we have lost; Am grieved for that unhappy sin Which robbed us of good Benjamin ;And of his stately Charge, which none Could keep alive when He was gone !
POEMS OF THE IMAGINATION.
While I am lying on the grass
Though babbling only to the Vale,
Thrice welcome, darling of the Spring !
The same whom in my school-boy days
THERE WAS A BOY. 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 mightanswer him.-And they would shout 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
This boy was taken from his mates, and died
TO THE CUCKOO. O BLITHE New-comer ! I have heard, I hear thee and rejoice. O Cuckoo ! shall I call thee Bird, Or but a wandering Voice ?
The sky is overcast With a continuous cloud of texture close, Heavy and wan, all whitened by the Moon, Which through that veil is indistinctly seen, A dull, contracted circle, yielding light So feebly spread, that not a shadow falls,