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Angrily shrill of moss-entangled bee
That soon as loosed booms with full twang away-
The sudden rushing of the minnow shoal
Scared from the shallows by my passing tread.
Dimpling the water glides, with here and there
A glossy fiy, skimming in circlets gay
The treacherous surface, while the quick-eyed trout
Watches his time to spring; or from above,
Some feathered dam, purveying 'mong the boughs,
Darts from her perch, and to her plumeless brood
Bears off the prize. Sad emblem of man's lot!
He, giddy insect. from his native leaf
(Where safe and happily he might have lurked)
Elate upon ambition's gaudy wings,
Forgetful of his origin, and worse,
Unthinking of his end, flies to the stream,
And if from hostile vigilance he 'scape,
Buoyant he flutters but a little while,
Mistakes the inverted image of the sky
For heaven itself, and, sinking, meets his fate...
Again I turn me to the hill, and trace
The wizard stream, now scarce to be discerned;
Woodless its banks, but green with ferny leaves,
And thinly strewed with heath-bells up and down.
Now, when the downward sun has left the glens, Each mountain's rugged lineaments are traced Upon the adverse slope, where stalks gigantic The shepherd's shadow, thrown athwart the chasm, As on the topmost ridge he homeward hies. How deep the hush! the torrent's channel dry, Presents a stony steep, the echo's haunt. But hark a plaintive sound floating along! 'Tis from yon heath-roofed shieling; now it dies Away, now rises full; it is the song Which He, who listens to the hallelujahs Of choiring seraphim, delights to hear : It is the music of the heart, the voice Of venerable age, of guileless youth, In kindly circle seated on the ground Before their wicker-door. Behold the man ! The grandsire and the saint; his silvery locks Beam in the parting ray ; before him lies, Upon the smooth-cropt sward, the open book, His comfort, stay, and ever-new delight; While heedless at a side, the lisping boy Fondles the lamb that nightly shares his couch.
An Autumn Sabbath Walk. When homeward bands their several ways disperse, I love to linger in the narrow field Of rest, to wander round from tomb to tomb, And think of some who silent sleep below. Sad sighs the wind that from these ancient elms Shakes showers of leaves upon the withered grass; The sere and yellow wreaths, with eddying sweep, Fill up the furrows 'tween the hillocked graves. But list that moan ! 'tis the poor blind man's dog, His guide for many a day, now come to mourn The master and the friend-conjunction rare ! A man, indeed, he was of gentle soul, Though bred to brave the deep: the lightning's flash
Had dimmed, not closed, his mild but sightless eyes.
He was a welcome guest through all his range-
It was not wide-no dog would bay at him;
Children would run to meet him on his way,
And lead him to a sunny seat, and climb
His knee, and wonder at his oft-told tales.
Then would he teach the elfins how to plait
The rusty cap and crown, or sedgy ship:
And I have seen him lay his tremulous hand
Upon their heads, while silent moved his lips.
Peace to thy spirit, that now looks on me
Perhaps with greater pity than I felt
To see thee wandering darkling on thy way!
But let me quit this melancholy spot,
And roam where nature gives a parting smile,
As yet the bluebells linger on the sod
That copse the sheepfold ring; and in the woods
A second blow of many flowers appear,
Flowers faintly tinged, and breathing no perfume.
But fruits, not blossoms, form the woodland wreath
That circles Autumu's brow. The ruddy haws
Now clothe the half-leafed thorn; the bramble bends
Bencath its jetty load ; the hazel hangs
With auburn bunches, dipping in the stream
That sweeps along and threatens to o'erflow
The leaf-strewu banks: oft, statue-like, I gaze,
In vacancy of thonight, upon that streain,
And chase, with dreaming eye, the eddying foam,
Or rowan's clustered branch, or harvest sheaf,
Borne rapidly adowu the dizzying flood.
A Winter Sabbath Walk.
How dazzling white the snowy scene! deep, deep
The stillness of the winter Sabbath day-
Not even a footfall heard. Smooth are the fields,
Each hollow pathway level with the plain :
Hid are the bushes, save that here and there
Are seen the topmost shoots of brier or broom.
High-ridged the whirled drift has almost reached
The powdered keystone of the churchyard porch.
Mute hangs the hooded bell; the tombs lie burie
No step approaches to the house of prayer.
The flickering fall is o'er : the clouds disperse,
And shew the sun, hang o'er the welkin's verge,
Shooting a bright but ineffectual beam
On all the sparkling waste. Now is the time
To visit nature in her grand attire.
Thongh perilous the mountainous ascent,
A noble recompense the danger brings.
How beautiful the plain stretched far below,
Unvaried though it be, save by yon stream
With azure windings, or the leafless wood!
But what the beauty of the plain, compared
To that sublimity which reigns enthroned,
Holding joint rule with solitude divine,
Among yon rocky fells that bid defiance
To steps the most adventuronsly bold?
There silence dwells profound; or if the cry
Of high-poised eagle break at times the hush,
The inantled echoes no response return.
But now let me explore the deep-sunk dell,
No foot-print, save the covey's or the flock's,
Is seen along the rill, where marshy springs
Still rear the grassy blade of vivid green.
Beware, ye shepherds, of these treacherous baunts,
Nor linger there too long: the wintry day
Soon closes; and full oft a heavier fall,
Heaped by the blast, fills up the sheltered glen,
While, gurgling deep below, the buried rill
Mines for itself a snow-coved way! Oh, then,
Your helpless charge drive from the tempting spot,
And keep them on the bleak hill's stormy side,
Where night winds sweep the gathering drift away:
So the great Shepherd leads the heavenly flock
From faithless Measures, full into the storms
Of life, where long they bear the bitter blast,
Until at length the vernal sun looks forth,
Bedimmed with showers; then to the pastures green
He brings them where the quiet waters glide,
The stream of life, the Siloah of the soul.
To My Son.
Twice has the sun commenced his annual round,
Since first thy footsteps tottered o'er the ground;
Since first thy tongue was tuned to bless mine.ear,
By faltering out the name to fathers dear.
Oh! nature's language, with her looks combined,
More precious far than periods thrice refined!
Oh! sportive looks of love, devoid of guile,
I prize you more than beauty's magic smile ;
Yes, in that face, unconscious of its charm,
I gaze with bliss unmingled with alarm.
Ah, no! full oft a boding borror flies
Athwart my fancy, uttering fateful cries.
Almighty Power ! his harmless life defend,
And, if we part, 'gainst me the mandate send.
And yet a wish will rise-would I might live,
Till added years his memory firmness give!
For, Oh! it would a joy in death impart
To think I still survived within his heart;
To think he'll cast, midway the vale of years,
A retrospective look bedimmed with tears,
And tell, regretful, how I looked and spoke;
What walks I loved, where grew my favourite oak;
How gently I would lead him by the hand;
How gently use the accent of command;
What lore I taught him, roaming wood and wild,
And how the man descended to the child ;
How well I loved with him, on Sabbath morn,
To hear the anthem of the vocal thorn,
To teach religion, unallied to strife,
Aud trace to him the way, the truth, the life.
But far and further still my view I bend,
And now I see a child thy steps attend ;
To yonder churchyard-wall thou tak'st thy way,
While round thee, pleased, thou see'st the infant play;
Then lifting him, while tears suffuse thine eyes,
Pointing, thou tell’st him, . There thy grandsire lies.'
The Thanksgiving off Cape Trafalgar.
Upon the high, yet gently rolling wave
The floating tomb that heaves above the brave,
Soft sighs the gale that late tremendous roared,
Whelming the wretched remnants of the sword.
And now the cannon's peaceful thunder calls
The victor bands to mount their wooden walls,
And from the ramparts, where their comrades fell,
The mingled strain of joy and grief to swell :
Fast they ascend, from stem to stern they spread,
And crowd the engines whence the lightnings sped:
The white-robed priest his upraised hands extends;
Hushed is each voice, attention leaning bends;
Then from each prow the grand hosaunas rise,
Float o'er the deep, and hover to the skies.
Heaven fills each heart; yet home will oft intrude,
And tears of love celestial joys exclude.
The wounded man, who hears the soaring strain,
Lifts his pale visage, and forgets his pain;
While parting spirits, mingling with the lay,
On hallelujahs wing their heavenward way.
GEORGE CRABBE. The Rev. GEORGE CRABBE, whom Byron has characterised as 'Nature's sternest painter, yet the best,' was of humble origin, and born at Aldborough, in Suffolk, on the Christmas-eve of 1754. His father was collector of the salt-duties, or salt-master, as he was termed, and though of poor circumstances and violent temper, he exerted himself to give George a superior education. It is pleasing to know that the old man lived to reap his reward, in witnessing the celebrity of his son, and to transcribe, with parental fondness, in his own handwriting, the poem of “The Library.' Crabbe has described the unpromising scene of his nativity with his usual force and correctness:
Lo! where the heath, with withering brake grown o'er
Lends the light turt that warms the neighbouring poor;
From thence a length of burning sand appears,
Where the thin harvest waves its withered ears;
Rank weed, that every art and care defy,
Reign o'er the land, and rob the blighted rye:
There thistles stretch their prickly arms afar,
And to the ragged infant threaten war;
Their poppies nodding, mock the hope of toil ;
There the blue bugloss paints the sterile soil;
Hardy and high, above the slender sheaf
The slimy mallow waves her silky leaf;
O'er the young shoot the charlock throws a shade,
And clasping tares cling round the sickly blade;
With mingled tints the rocky coasts abound,
And a sad splendour vainly shines around.
So looks the nymph whom wretched arts adorn,
Betrayed by man, then left for man to scorn;
Whose cheek in vain assumes the mimic rose,
While her sad eyes the troubled breast disclose;
Whose outward splendour is but folly's dress,
Exposing most, when most it gilds distress. The poet was put apprentice in his fourteenth year to a surgeon, and afterwards practised in Aldborough; but his prospects were so gloomy, that he abandoned his profession, and proceeded to London i i literary adventurer. His whole stock of money amounted to
only three pounds. Having completed some poetical pieces, he offered them for publication, but they were rejected. In the course of the year, however, he issued a poetical epistle, The Candidate, addressed to the authors of the Monthly Review.' It was coldly received, and his publisher failing at the same time, the young poet was plunged into great perplexity and want. He wrote to the premier, Lord North, to Lord-chancellor Thurlow, and to other noblemen, requesting assistance; but in no case was an answer rcturned. At length, when his affairs were desperate, he applied to Edmund Burke, and in a modest yet manly statement disclosed to him the situation in which he stood. Burke received him into his own house, and exercised towards him the most generous hospitality. While under his happy roof, the poet met Mr. Fox, Sir Joshua Reynolds, and others of the statesman's distinguished friends. In the same year (1781) he published his poem “The Library,' which was favourably noticed by the critics. Lord Thurlow-who now, as in the case of Cowper, came with tardy notice and ungraceful generosity-invited him to breakfast, and at parting presented him with a bank-note for a hundred pounds. Crabbe entered into sacred orders, and was licensed as a curate to the rector of his native parish of Aldborough. In a short time, Burke procured for him the situation of chaplain to the Duke of Rutland at Belvoir Castle.' This was a great advancement for the poor poet, and he never afterwards was in fear of want.
He seems, however, to have felte all the ills of dependence on the great, and in his poem of “The Patron,' and other parts of his writings, has strongly depicted the evils of such a situation. In 1783 appeared The Village,' which had been seen and corrected by Johnson and Burke. Its success was instant and complete. Some of the descriptions in the poem-as that of the parish workhouse-were copied into all the periodicals, and took that place in our national literature which they still retain. Thurlow presented him with two small livings then in his gift, telling him at the same time, with an oath, that he was as like Parson Adams as twelve to a dozen. The poet now married a young lady from Suffolk, the object of an early at. tachment, and taking the curacy of Stathern, adjoining Belvoir Castle, he bade adieu to the ducal mansion, and transferred himself to the humble parsonage in the village. Four happy years were spent in this retirement, when the poet obtained the exchange of his two small livings in Dorsetshire for two of superior value in the vale of Belvoir. Crabbe remained silent as a poet for many years. Out of doors,' says his son, he had always some object in view-a flower, or a pebble, or his note-book in his hand; and in the house, if he was not writing, he was reading. He read aloud very often, even when walking, or seated by the side of his wife in the huge old-fashioned one-horse chaise, heavier than a modern chariot, in which they !!:ally were conveyed in their little excursions, and the conduct of