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My EMMA, I will dedicate to thee.”
Amid the smoke of cities did you pass
That you will gladly listen to discourse,
While I was seated, now some ten days past, Beneath those lofty firs, that overtop Their ancient neighbor, 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, 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 chiselled out Some uncouth name upon the native rock, Above the Rotha, by the forest-side. - Now, by those dear immunities of heart. Engendered between malice and true love, I was not loth to be so catechized, And this was my reply:— “ As it befell, One summer morning we had walked abroad At break of day, Joanna and myself. -’T was 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
That eastward looks, I there stopped short, and
stood Tracing 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 minutes' 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 heyday 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 dreams and visionary impulses
To me alone imparted, sure I am
Were wasted, as I chanced to walk alone.
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 Wynandermere. On Helm-crag, 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
A NARROW girdle of rough stones and crags,