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Picture of Christmas Eve.
Addressed to the Rev. Dr. Wordsworth,
with Sonnets to the River Duddon, &c.
The minstrels played their Christmas By blazing fire, the still suspense
Of self-complacent innocence ;
To-night beneath my cottage eaves :
While, smitten by a lofty moon:
The mutual nod-the grave disguise The encircling laurels, thick with leaves, of hearts with gladness brimming o'er ; Gave back a rich and dazzling sheen,
And some unbidden tears that rise That overpowered their natural green. For names once heard, and heard no
more; Through hill and valley every breeze Tears brightened by the serenade Had sunk to rest with folded wings; For infant in the cradle laid ! Keen was the air, but could not freeze, Nor check the music of the strings; Ah! not for emerald fields alone, So stout and hardy were the band, With ambient streams more pure and That scraped the chords with strenuous bright hand.
Than fabled Cytherea's zone
Glittering before the Thunderer's sight, And who but listened till was paid Is to my heart of hearts endeared Respect to every inmate's claim;
The ground where we were born and The greeting given, the music played
reared! In honour of each household name, Duly pronounced with lusty call,
Hail, ancient manners ! sure defence, And Merry Christmas' wished to all ? Where they survive, of wholesome laws;
Remnants of love, whose modest sense O brother ! I revere the choice
Thus into narrow room withdraws;
That took thee from thy native hills; Hail, usages of pristine mould,
And it is given thee to rejoice:
And ye that guard them, mountains old!
Though public care full often tills
Heaven only witness of the toil-
Bear with me, brother, quench the A barren and ungrateful soil.
That slights this passion or condemns; Yet, would that thou, with me and mine, If thee fond fancy ever brought Hadst heard this never-failing rite; From the proud margin of the Thames, And seen on other faces shine
And Lambeth's venerable towers, A true revival of the light
To humbler streams and greener bowers. Which nature, and these rustic powers, In simple childhood spread through ours! Yes, they can make, who fail to find
Short leisure even in busiest days, For pleasure hath not ceased to wait Moments to cast a look behind, On these expected annual rounds, And profit by those kindly rays Whether the rich man's sumptuous gate That" through the clouds do sometimes Call forth the unelaborate sounds.
steal, Or they are offered at the door
And all the far-off past reveal.
That gnards the lowliest of the poor
Hence, while the imperial city's din
How touching, when at midnight sweep Beats frequent on thy satiate ear,
Snow-muffled winds, and all is dark, A pleased attention I may win
To hear-and sink again to sleep! To agitations less severe,
Or, at an earlier call,
That neither overwhelm nor cloy,
But fill the hollow vale with joy. through the whole of Mr. Wordsworth's system of thought, filling up all interstices, penetrating
all recesses, colouring all media. supporting, associating, and giving coho man never presented to us divested of his relations with external nature. Man is the text, but there is always
a running commentary of natural phenomena. -- Quarterly Reviero for 1834.
In illustration of this remark. every episode in the Excursion might also be cited (particularly the affecting and beautiful tale of Margaret in the first book): and the poems of the Cumberland Beggar, Michael, and the Fountain-:he las unquestionably one of the finest of the ballads are also striking instances,
To a Highland Girl. - At Inversneyd, upon Loch Lomond. Sweet Highland girl, a very shower Of thy few words of English speech. Of beauty is thy earthly dower!
A bondage sweetly brooked, a strife Twice seven consenting years have shed That gives thy gestures grace and life! Their utmost bounty on thy head : So have I, not unmoved in mind, And these gray locks ; this household Seen birds of tempest-loving kind, lawn;
Thus beating up against the wind. These trees, a veil just half withdrawn; What hand but would a garland cull This fall of water that doth make
For thee who art so beautiful ? A murmur near the silent lake;
O happy pleasure! here to dwell This little bay, a quiet road
Beside thee in some heathy dell; That holds in shelter thy abode
Adopt your homely ways, and dress In truth, together do you secm
A shepherd, thou a shepherdess !
Like something fashioned in a dream; But I could frame a wish for thee
Snch forms as from their covert peep More like a grave reality :
When earthly cares are laid asleep! Thou art to me but as a wave
Yet, dream or vision as thou art,
Of the wild sea; and I would have I bless thee with a human heart:
Some claim upon thee, if I could, God shield thee to thy latest years! Though but of common neighbourhood. I neither know thee nor thy peers ; What joy to hear thee, and to see! And yet my eyes are filled with tears. Thy elder brother I would be
With earnest feeling I shall pray Thy father--anything to thee ! For thee when I am far away:
Now thanks to Heaven! that of its For never saw I mien or face,
grace In which more plainly I could trace Hath led me to this lonely place. Benignity and homebred sense
Joy have I had; and going hence, Ripening in perfect innocence.
I bear away my recompense. Here scattered like a random seed, In spots like these it is we prize Remote from men, thou dost not need Our memory, feel that she hath eyes: The embarrassed look of shy distress Then, why should I be loath to stir ? And maidenly shamefacedness :
I feel this place was made for her; Thou wearest upon thy forehead clear To give new pleasure like the past, The freedom of a mountaineer :
Continued long as life shall last. A face with gladness overspread!
Nor am I loath, though pleased at heart, Soft smiles, by human kindness bred ! Sweet Highland girl! from thec to part; And seemliness complete, that sways For I, methinks, till I grow old, Thy courtesies, about the plays;
As fair before me shall behold, With no restraint, but such as springs As I do now, the cabin small, From quick and eager visitings
The lake, the bay, the waterfall;
Of thoughts that lie beyond the reach And thee, the spirit of them alli
• With sacrifice before the rising morn,
Vows have I made by fruitless hope inspired;
And from the infernal gods, 'mid shades forlorn
Of night, my slaughtered lord have I required :
Celestial pity I again implore;
Restore him to my sight-great Jove, restore!'
So speaking, and by fervent love endowed
With faith, the suppliant heavenward lifts her hands;
While, like the sun emerging from a cloud,
Her countenance brightens and her eye expands;
Her bosom heaves and spreads, her stature grows;
And she expects the issue in repose.
O terror! what hath she perceived ?-O joy!
What doth she look on ?--whom doth she behold ?
Her hero slain upon the beach of Troy?
His vital presence ? his corporeal mould ?
It is-if sense deceive her not-'tis he!
And a god leads him, winged Mercury!
Mild Hermes spake, and touched ber with his wand
That calms all fear: Such grace hath crowned thy prayer,
Laodamia, that at Jove's command
Thy husband walks the paths of upper air ;
He comes to tarry with thee three hours' space;
Accept the gift; behold him face to face !'
Forth sprang the impassioned queen her lord to clasp,
Again that consummation she essayed ;
But unsubstantial Form eludes her grasp
As often as that eager grasp was made.
The phantom parts_but parts to reunite,
And reassume his place before her sight.
Protesilaus, lo! thy guide is gone !
Confirm, I pray, the vision with thy voice.
This is our palace--yonder is thy throne;
Speak, and the floor thou tread'st on will rejoice.
Not to appal me have the gods bestowed
This precious boon; and blest a sad abode.'
Great Jove, Laodamia doth not leave
Her gifts imperfect. Spectre though I be,
I am not sent to scare thee or deceive;
But in reward of thy fidelity.
And something also did my worth obtain;
For fearless virtue bringeth boundless gain.
Thou knowest, the Delphic oracle foretold
That the first Greek who touched the Trojan strand
Should die: but me the threat could not withhold:
A generous cause a victim
And forth I leaped upon the sandy plain ;
A self-devoted chief-by Hector slain.'
Supreme of heroes ; bravest, noblest, best!
Thy matchless courage I bewail no more,
Which then, when tens of thousands were depressed
By doubt, propelled thee to the fatal shore;
Thou found'st-and I forgive thee-here thou art-
A nobler counsellor than my poor heart.
But thou, though capable of sternest deed,
Wert kind as resolutē, and good as brave;
And he, whose power restores thee, hath decreed
That thou shouldst cheat the malice of the grave.
Redundant are thy locks, thy lips as fair
As when their breath enriched Thessalian air.
"No spectre greets me-no vain shadow this;
Come, blooming hero, place thee by my side!
Give, on this well-known couch, one nuptial kiss
To me, this day, a second time thy bride !'
Jove frowned in heaven; the conscious Parcæ threw
Upon those roseate, lips a Stygian hue.
• This visage tells thee that my doom is past :
Nor should the change be mourned, even if the joys
Of sense were able to return as fast
And surely as they vanish. Earth destroys
Those raptures duly-Erebus disdains;
Calm pleasures there abide--majestic pains..
‘Be taught, O faithful consort, to control
Rebellious passion; for the gods approve
The depth, and not the tumult, of the soul;
A fervent, not ungovernable love.
Thy transports moderate; and meekly moary
When I depart, for brief is my sojourn.'
* Ah, wherefore ? Did not Hercules by force
Wrest from the guardian monster of the toml.
Alcestis, a reanimated corse,
Given back to dwell on earth in vernal bloom
Medea's spells dispersed the weight of years,
And Æson stood a youth 'mid youthful peers.
The gods to us are merciful: and they
Yet further may relent; for mightier far
Than strength of nerve or sinew, or the sway
Of magic potent over sun and star,
Is love, though oft to agony distressed,
And though his favourite seat be feeble woman's presek
• But if thou goest, I follow.' 'Peace !' he said:
She looked upon him, and was calmed and chored;
The ghastly colour from his lips had fled.
In his deportment, shape, and mien appeared
Elysian beauty, meiancholy grace,
Brought from a pensive though a happy place.
He spake of love, such love as spirits feel
In worlds whose course is equable and pure ;
No fears to beat away, no strife to heal,
The past unsighed for, and the future sure;
Spake of heroic arts in graver mood
Revived, with finer harmony pursued.
Of all that is most beauteous-imaged there
In happier beauty; more pellucid streams,
An ampler ether, a diviner ai.,
And fields invested with purpureal gleams,
Climes which the sun, who sheds the brightest day
Earth knows, is all unworthy to survey.
Yet there the soul shall enter which hath earned
That privilege by virtue. 'Ill,' said he,
• The end of man's existence I discerned,
Who from ignoble games and revelry
Could draw, when we had parted, vain delight,
While tears were thy best pastime, day and night:
• And while my youthful peers before my eyes
Each hero following his peculiar bent-
Prepared themselves for glorious enterprise
By martial sports; or seated in the tent,
Chieftains and kings in council were detained-
What time the fleet at Aulis lay enchained.
“The wished-for wind was given: I then revolved
The oracle upon the silent sea;
And, if no worthier led the way, resolved
That, of a thousand vessels, mine should be
The foremost prow in pressing to the strand-
Mine the first blood that tinged the Trojan sand.
Yet bitter, ofttimes bitter was the pang,
When of thy loss I thought, beloved wife!
On thee too
fondly did my memory hang,
And on the joys we shared in mortal life;
The paths which we had trod-these fountains, flowers;
My new-planned cities, and unfinished towers.
. But should suspense permit the foe to cry,
“ Behold they tremblel haughty their array ;
Yet of their number no one dares to die!"
In soul I swept the indignity away:
Old frailties then recurred; but lofty thought,
Iu act embodied, my deliverance wrought.
And thou, though strong in love, art all too weak
In reason, in self-government too slow;
I counsel thee by fortitude to seek
Our blest reunion in the shades below.
The invisible world with thee hath sympathised;
Be thy affections raised and solemnised.
Learn, by a mortal yearning, to ascend-
Seeking a higher object. Love was given,
Encouraged, sanctioned, chiefly for that end:
For this the passion to excess was driven,
That self might be annulled : her bondage prove
The fetters of a dream, opposed to love.
Aloud she shrieked; for Hermes reappears!
Round the dear shade she would have clung ; 'tis vain;
The hours are past-too brief had they been years ;
And bim no mortal effort can detain:
Swift toward the realms that know not earthly day,
He through the portal takes bis silent way,
And on the palace-floor a lifeless corse she lay.
By no weak pity might the gods be moved;
She who thus perished, not without
Of lovers that in reason's spite have loved,
Was doomed to wear out her appointed time
Apart from happy ghosts, that gather flowers
of blissful quiet 'mid unfading bowers.
Yet tears to human suffering are due;
And mortal hopes defeated and o’erthrown
Are mourned by man, and not by man alone,
As fondly he believes. Upon the side
Of Hellespont (such faith was entertained)
A knot of spiry trees for ages grew
From out the tomb of him for whom she died;
And ever, when such stature they had gained,
That Ilium's walls were subject to their view,
The trees' tall summits withered at the sight-
A constant interchange of growth and blight! Memoirs of Wordsworth were published in 1851, two volumes, by the poet's nephew, CHRISTOPHER WORDSWORTH, D. D. This is rather a meagre, unsatisfactory work, but no better has since appeared. Many interesting anecdotes, reports of conversation, letters, &c., will be found in the Diary' of Henry Crabb Robinson, 1869. In 1874 was published 'Recollections of a Tour made in Scotland, A. D. 1803,' by DOROTHY WORDSWORTH, sister of the poet, to whose talents and