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'To court a grin, when you should woo a soul;
To break a jest, when pity would inspire
Pathetic exhortation; and to address
The skittish fancy with facetious tales,

When sent with God's commission to the heart.
So did not Paul. Direct me to a quip
Or merry turn in all he ever wrote,
And I consent you take it for your text,
Your only one, till sides and benches fail.

475 No: he was serious in a serious cause, And understood too well the weighty terms That he had ta'en in charge. He would not stoop To conquer those by jocular exploits, Whom truth and soberness assailed in vain. 480


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The Rout is Folly's circle, which she draws With magic wand. So potent is the spell, 630 That none decoyed into that fatal ring, Unless by Heaven's peculiar grace, escape. There we grow early grey, but never wise; There form connections, but acquire no friend; Solicit pleasure, hopeless of success; Waste youth in occupations only fit For second childhood; and devote old age To sports which only childhood could excuse. There they are happiest who dissemble best Their weariness; and they the most polite 640 Who squander time and treasure with a smile, Though at their own destruction. She that asks Her dear five hundred friends, contemns them all, And hates their coming. They (what can they

less?) Make just reprisals, and with cringe and shrug, And bow obsequious, hide their hate of her. 646 All catch the frenzy, downward from her Grace, Whose flambeaux flash against the morning skies And gild our chamber ceilings as they pass, To her who, frugal only that her thrift 650 May feed excesses she can ill afford, Is hackneyed home unlackeyed; who in haste Alighting, turns the key in her own door, And at the watchman's lantern borrowing light, Finds a cold bed her only comfort left. 655 Wives beggar husbands, husbands starve their

wives, On Fortune's velvet altar offering up Their last poor pittance Fortune, most severe Of goddesses yet known, and costlier far Than all that held their routs in Juno's heaven! So fare we in this prison-house the world. 661 And 'tis a fearful spectacle to see So many maniacs dancing in their chains. They gaze upon the links that hold them fast, With eyes of anguish, execrate their lot, 665 Then shake them in despair, an' again.

'Tis morning; and the sun with ruddy orb
Ascending, fires the horizon: while the clouds
That crowd away before the driving wind,
More ardent as the disk emerges more,
Resemble most some city in a blaze,

Seen through the leafless wood. His slanting ray
Slides ineffectual down the snowy vale,
And tinging all with his own rosy hue,
From every herb and every spiry blade
Stretches a length of shadow o'er the field.
Mine, spindling into longitude immense, .
In spite of gravity, and sage remark
That I myself am but a fleeting shade,
Provokes me to a smile. With eye askance
I view the muscular proportioned limb
Transformed to a lean shank. The shapeless

pair, As they designed to mock me, at my side Take step for step; and as I near approach The cottage, walk along the plastered wall, Preposterous sight! the legs without the man. 20 The verdure of the plain lies buried deep Beneath the dazzling deluge; and the bents And coarser grass, upspearing o'er the rest, Of late unsightly and unseen, now shine Conspicuous, and in bright apparel clad, 25 And fledged with icy feathers, nod superb. The cattle mourn in corners where the fence Screens them, and seem half-petrified to sleep In unrecumbent sadness. There they wait Their wonted fodder, not like hungering man, 30 Fretful if unsupplied, but silent, meek, And patient of the slow-paced swain's delay. He from the stack carves out the accustomed

load, Deep-plunging, and again deep-plunging oft, His broad keen knife into the solid mass; 35 Smooth as a wall the upright remnant stands, With such undeviating and even force He severs it away: no needless care Lest storms should overset the leaning pile Deciduous, or its own unbalanced weight. Forth goes the woodman, leaving unconcerned The cheerful haunts of man, to wield the axe And drive the wedge in yonder forest drear, From morn to eve his solitary task.

44 Shaggy, and lean, and shrewd, with pointed ears And tail cropped short, half lurcher and half cur, His dog attends him. Close behind his heel Now creeps he slow; and now with many a frisk Wide scampering, snatches up the drifted snow With ivory teeth, or ploughs it with his snout; Then shakes his powdered coat, and barks for joy.




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And shrubs of fairy land. The crystal drops That trickle down the branches, fast congealed, Shoot into pillars of pellucid length,

115 And prop the pile they but adorned before. Here grotto within grotto safe defies The sunbeam; there embossed and fretted wild, The growing wonder takes a thousand shapes Capricious, in which fancy seeks in vain The likeness of some object seen before. Thus Nature works as if to mock at Art, And in defiance of her rival powers; By these fortuitous and random strokes Performing such inimitable feats,

125 As she with all her rules can never reach.

I 20

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Heedless of all his pranks, the sturdy churl
Moves right toward the mark; nor stops for aught,
But now and then with pressure of his thumb
To adjust the fragrant charge of a short tube 55
That fumes beneath his nose: the trailing cloud
Streams far behind him, scenting all the air.
Now from the roost, or from the neighbouring

Where, diligent to catch the first faint gleam
Of smiling day, they gossiped side by side, 60
Come trooping at the housewife's well-known call
The feathered tribes domestic. Half on wing,
And half on foot, they brush the fleecy flood,
Conscious, and fearful of too deep a plunge.
The sparrows peep, and quit the sheltering eaves
To seize the fair occasion. Well they eye 66
The scattered grain, and thievishly resolved
To escape the impending famine, often scared
As oft return, a pert voracious kind.
Clean riddance quickly made, one only care 70
Remains to each, the search of sunny nook,
Or shed impervious to the blast. Resigned
To sad necessity, the cock foregoes
His wonted strut, and wading at their head
With well-considered steps, seems to resent 75
His altered gait and stateliness retrenched.
How find the myriads that in summer cheer
The hills and valleys with their ceaseless songs
Due sustenance, or where subsist they now?
Earth yields them nought: the imprisoned worm.
is safe

80 Beneath the frozen clod; all seeds of herbs Lie covered close; and berry-bearing thorns That feed the thrush (whatever some suppose) Afford the smaller minstrels no supply. The lorfg-protracted rigour of the year

85 Thins all their numerous flocks. In chinks and

holes Ten thousand seek an unmolested end, As instinct prompts, self-buried ere they die. The very rooks and daws forsake the fields, Where neither grub nor root nor earth-nut now Repays their labour more; and perched aloft 91 By the wayside, or stalking in the path, Lean pensioners upon the traveller's track, Pick up their nauseous dole, though sweet to

them, Of voided pulse or half-digested grain.

95 The streams are lost amid the splendid blank, O’erwhelming all distinction. On the flood, Indurated and fixed, the snowy weight Lies undissolved; while silently beneath, And unperceived, the current steals away. Not so, where scornful of a check it leaps The mill-dam, dashes on the restless wheel, And wantons in the pebbly gulf below:

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His sword was in its sheath;

His fingers held the pen, When Kempenfelt went down

With twice four hundred men.

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The rose had been washed, just washed in a

shower, Which Mary to Anna conveyed, The plentiful moisture encumbered the flower,

And weighed down its beautiful head. The cup was all filled, and the leaves were all wet, And it seemed, to a fanciful view,

6 To weep for the buds it had left with regret

On the flourishing bush where it grew. I hastily seized it, unfit as it was

For a nosegay, so dripping and drowned; And swinging it rudely, too rudely, alas!

I snapped it — it fell to the ground.
“And such," I exclaimed, "is the pitiless part

Some act by the delicate mind,
Regardless of wringing and breaking a heart

15 Already to sorrow resigned ! “This elegant rose, had I shaken it less,

Might have bloomed with its owner awhile; And the tear that is wiped with a little address

May be followed perhaps by a smile.”

O welcome guest, though unexpected here !
Who bidst me honour with an artless song,
Affectionate, a mother lost so long,
I will obey, not willingly alone,
But gladly, as the precept were her own:
And, while that face renews my filial grief,
Fancy shall weave a charm for my relief,
Shall steep me in Elysian reverie,
A momentary dream that thou art she.

My mother! when I learnt that thou wast dead
Say, wast thou conscious of the tears I shed ?
Hovered thy spirit o'er thy sorrowing son,
Wretch even then, life's journey just begun?
Perhaps thou gavest me, though unfelt, a kiss:
Perhaps a tear, if souls can weep in bliss —
Ah, that maternal smile"! It answers Yes.
I heard the bell tolled on thy burial day,
I saw the hearse that bore thee slow away,
And turning from my nursery window, drew 30
A long, long sigh, and wept a last adieu !
But was it such? — It was. — Where thou art

gone Adieus and farewells are a sound unknown. May I but meet thee on that peaceful shore, The parting word shall pass my lips no more! Thy maidens, grieved themselves at my concern, Oft gave me promise of thy quick return. What ardently I wished I long believed, And, disappointed still, was still deceived. By expectation every day beguiled,

40 Dupe of to-morrow even from a child. Thus many a sad to-morrow came and went, Till, all my stock of infant sorrow spent, I learned at last submission to my lot; But, though I less deplored thee, ne'er forgot.

Where once we dwelt our name is heard no more, Children not thine have trod my nursery floor; And where the gardener Robin, day by day, Drew me to school along the public way, Delighted with my bauble coach, and wrapped In scarlet mantle warm, and velvet capped,

51 'Tis now become a history little known, That once we called the pastoral house our own. Short-lived possession! but the record fair That memory keeps, of all thy kindness there, Still outlives many a storm that has effaced A thousand other themes less deeply traced. Thy nightly visits to my chamber made, That thou mightst know me safe and warmly

laid; Thy morning bounties ere I left my home, 60 The biscuit, or confectionary plum; The fragrant waters on my cheeks bestowed By thy own hand, till fresh they shone and glowed; All this, and more endearing still than all, Thy constant flow of love, that knew no fall,

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Oh that those lips had language! Life has passed
With me but roughly since I heard thee last.
Those lips are thine — thy own sweet smile I see,
The same that oft in childhood solaced me;
Voice only fails, else how distinct they say,
“Grieve not, my child, chase all thy fears away!”
The meek intelligence of those dear eyes
(Bless'd be the art that can immortalise,
The art that baffles Time's tyrannic claim
To quench it) here shines on me still the same.

Faithful remembrancer of one so dear,


Without the sin of violating thine:
And, while the wings of Fancy still are free,
And I can view this mimic show of thee, 119
Time has but half succeeded in his theft
Thyself removed, thy power to soothe me left.



Ne'er roughened by those cataracts and brakes
That humour interposed too often makes;
All this still legible in memory's page,
And still to be so to my latest age,
Adds joy to duty, makes me glad to pay 70
Such honours to thee as my numbers may;
Perhaps a frail memorial, but sincere,
Not scorned in heaven, though little noticed here.
Could Time, his flight reversed, restore the

hours, When, playing with thy vesture's tissued flowers, The violet, the pink, and jassamine, I pricked them into paper with a pin (And thou wast happier than myself the while, Wouldst softly speak, and stroke my head and

smile), Could those few pleasant days again appear,

80 Might one wish bring them, would I wish them

I would not trust my heart the dear delight
Seems so to be desired, perhaps I might. —
But no — what here we call our life is such,
So little to be loved, and thou so much,
That I should ill requite thee to constrain
Thy unbound spirit into bonds again.

Thou, as a gallant bark from Albion's coast
(The storms all weathered and the ocean crossed)
Shoots into port at some well-havened isle, 90
Where spices breathe, and brighter seasons smile,
There sits quiescent on the floods that show
Her beauteous form reflected clear below,
While airs impregnated with incense play
Around her, fanning light her streamers gay;
So thou, with sails how swift! hast reached the

shore, "Where tempests never beat nor billows roar." And thy loved consort on the dangerous tide Of life long since has anchored by thy side. But me, scarce hoping to attain that rest, Always from port withheld, always distressed Me howling blasts drive devious, tempest tost, Sails ripped, seams opening wide, and compass

lost, And day by day some current's thwarting force Sets me more distant from a prosperous course. Yet, oh, the thought that thou art safe, and he ! That thought is joy, arrive what may to me. My boast is not, that I deduce my birth From loins enthroned and rulers of the earth; But higher far my proud pretensions rise The son of parents passed into the skies! And now, farewell — Time unrevoked has run His wonted course, yet what I wished is done. By contemplation's help, not sought in vain, I seem to have lived my childhood o'er again; To have renewed the joys that once were mine,


Survivor sole, and hardly such, of all
That once lived here, thy brethren! - at my birth
(Since which I number threescore winters past)
A shattered veteran, hollow-trunked perhaps,
As now, and with excoriate forks deform,

Relics of ages ! — could a mind, imbued
With truth from Heaven, created thing adore,
I might with reverence kneel and worship thee.

It seems idolatry with some excuse, When our forefather Druids in their oaks Imagined sanctity. The conscience, yet Unpurified by an authentic act Of amnesty, the meed of blood divine, Loved not the light, but, gloomy, into gloom Of thickest shades, like Adam after taste 15 Of fruit proscribed, as to a refuge, fled.

Thou wast a bauble once; a cup and ball, Which babes might play with; and the thievish

jay, Seeking her food, with ease might have purloined The auburn nut that held thee, swallowing down Thy yet close-folded latitude of boughs, And all thine embryo vastness, at a gulp. But fate thy growth decreed; autumnal rains Beneath thy parent tree mellowed the soil Designed thy cradle; and a skipping deer, 25 With pointed hoof dibbling the glebe, prepared The soft receptacle, in which, secure, Thy rudiments should sleep the winter through.

So fancy dreams. Disprove it, if ye can, Ye reasoners broad awake, whose busy search 30 Of argument, employed too oft amiss, Sifts half the pleasures of short life away!

Thou fellst mature; and in the loamy clod
Swelling with vegetative force instinct
Didst burst thine egg, as theirs the fabled Twins,
Now stars; two lobes, protruding, paired exact;
A leaf succeeded, and another leaf,
And, all the elements thy puny growth
Fostering propitious, thou becamst a twig.
Who lived when thou wast such? Oh, couldst

thou speak,
As in Dodona once thy kindred trees
Oracular, I would not curious ask
The future, best unknown, but at thy mouth
Inquisitive, the less ambiguous past.

By thee I might correct, erroneous oft,

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45 —a ca ve

Warped into tough knee-timber, many a load!
But the axe spared thee. In those thriftier days
Oaks fell not, hewn by thousands, to supply 101
The bottomless demands of contest waged
For senatorial honours. Thus to Time
The task was left to whittle thee away
With his sly scythe, whose ever-nibbling edge,
Noiseless, an atom, and an atom more, 106
Disjoining from the rest, has, unobserved,
Achieved a labour, which had, far and wide,
By man performed, made all the forest ring.

Embowelled now, and of thy ancient self Possessing nought but the scooped rind, — that



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The clock of history, facts and events
Timing more punctual, unrecorded facts
Recovering, and misstated setting right —
Desperate attempt, till trees shall speak again!
Time made thee what thou wast, king of the

And Time hath made thee what thou art
For owls to roost in. Once thy spreading boughs
O’erhung the champaign; and the numerous flocks
That grazed it stood beneath that ample cope
Uncrowded, yet safe-sheltered from the storm. 55
No flock frequents thee now. Thou hast outlived
Thy popularity, and art become
(Unless verse rescue thee awhile) a thing
Forgotten, as the foliage of thy youth.
While thus through all the stages thou hast

60 Of treeship — first a seedling, hid in grass; Then twig; then sapling; and, as century rolled Slow after century, a giant-bulk Of girth enormous, with moss-cushioned root Upheaved above the soil, and sides embossed 65 With prominent wens globose, — till at the last The rottenness, which Time is charged to inflict On other mighty ones, found also thee.

What exhibitions various hath the world Witnessed, of mutability in all

70 That we account most durable below! Change is the diet on which all subsist, Created changeable, and change at last Destroys them. Skies uncertain, now the heat Transmitting cloudless, and the solar beam 75 Now quenching in a boundless sea of clouds, Calm and alternate storm, moisture and drought, Invigorate by turns the springs of life In all that live, plant, animal, and man, 79 And in conclusion mar them. Nature's threads, Fine passing thought, even in her coarsest works, Delight in agitation, yet sustain The force that agitates, not unimpaired; But, worn by frequent impulse, to the cause Of their best tone their dissolution owe. 85

Thought cannot spend itself, comparing still The great and little of thy lot, thy growth From almost nullity into a state Of matchless grandeur, and declension thence, Slow, into such magnificent decay.

90 Time was when, settling on thy leaf, a fly Could shake thee to the root -- and time has been When tempests could not. At thy firmest age Thou hadst within thy bole solid contents, That might have ribbed the sides and planked the deck

95 Of some flagged admiral; and tortuous arms, The shipwright's darling treasure, didst present To the four-quartered winds, robust and bold,

A huge throat calling to the clouds for drink,
Which it would give in rivulets to thy root,
Thou temptest none, but rather much forbiddest
The feller's toil, which thou couldst ill requite.
Yet is thy root sincere, sound as the rock, 116
A quarry of stout spurs and knotted fangs,
Which, crook'd into a thousand whimsies, clasp
The stubborn soil, and hold thee still erect.

So stands a kingdom, whose foundation yet
Fails not, in virtue and in wisdom laid,
Though all the superstructure, by the tooth
Pulverised of venality, a shell
Stands now, and semblance only of itself!
Thine arms have left thee. Winds have rent
them off

125 Long since, and rovers of the forest wild With bow and shaft have burnt them. Some have

A splintered stump, bleached to a snowy white:
And some memorial none, where once they grew.
Yet life still lingers in thee, and puts forth 130
Proof not contemptible of what she can,
Even where death predominates. The Spring
Finds thee not less alive to her sweet force
Than yonder upstarts of the neighbouring wood,
So much thy juniors, who their birth received 135
Half a millennium since the date of thine.

But since, although well qualified by age
To teach, no spirit dwells in thee, nor voice
May be expected from thee, seated here
On thy distorted root, with hearers none,
Or prompter, save the scene, I will perform
Myself the oracle, and will discourse
In my own ear such matter as I may.

One man alone, the father of us all,
Drew not his life from woman; never gazed, 145
With mute unconsciousness of what he saw,
On all around him; learned not by degrees,
Nor owed articulation to his ear;
But moulded by his Maker into man
At once, upstood intelligent, surveyed 150
All creatures, with precision understood


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