Beachy Head Poem Analysis Essay

1 On thy stupendous summit, rock sublime!
2 That o'er the channel rear'd, half way at sea
3 The mariner at early morning hails,
4 I would recline; while Fancy should go forth,
5 And represent the strange and awful hour
6 Of vast concussion; when the Omnipotent
7 Stretch'd forth his arm, and rent the solid hills,
8 Bidding the impetuous main flood rush between
9 The rifted shores, and from the continent
10 Eternally divided this green isle.
11 Imperial lord of the high southern coast!
12 From thy projecting head-land I would mark
13 Far in the east the shades of night disperse,
14 Melting and thinned, as from the dark blue wave
15 Emerging, brilliant rays of arrowy light
16 Dart from the horizon; when the glorious sun
17 Just lifts above it his resplendent orb.
18 Advances now, with feathery silver touched,
19 The rippling tide of flood; glisten the sands,
20 While, inmates of the chalky clefts that scar
21 Thy sides precipitous, with shrill harsh cry,
22 Their white wings glancing in the level beam,
23 The terns, and gulls, and tarrocks, seek their food,
24 And thy rough hollows echo to the voice
25 Of the gray choughs, and ever restless daws,
26 With clamour, not unlike the chiding hounds,
27 While the lone shepherd, and his baying dog,
28 Drive to thy turfy crest his bleating flock.

29 The high meridian of the day is past,
30 And Ocean now, reflecting the calm Heaven,
31 Is of cerulean hue; and murmurs low
32 The tide of ebb, upon the level sands.
33 The sloop, her angular canvas shifting still,
34 Catches the light and variable airs
35 That but a little crisp the summer sea,
36 Dimpling its tranquil surface.

36 Afar off,
37 And just emerging from the arch immense
38 Where seem to part the elements, a fleet
39 Of fishing vessels stretch their lesser sails;
40 While more remote, and like a dubious spot
41 Just hanging in the horizon, laden deep,
42 The ship of commerce richly freighted, makes
43 Her slower progress, on her distant voyage,
44 Bound to the orient climates, where the sun
45 Matures the spice within its odorous shell,
46 And, rivalling the gray worm's filmy toil,
47 Bursts from its pod the vegetable down;
48 Which in long turban'd wreaths, from torrid heat
49 Defends the brows of Asia's countless casts.
50 There the Earth hides within her glowing breast
51 The beamy adamant, and the round pearl
52 Enchased in rugged covering; which the slave,
53 With perilous and breathless toil, tears off
54 From the rough sea-rock, deep beneath the waves.
55 These are the toys of Nature; and her sport
56 Of little estimate in Reason's eye:
57 And they who reason, with abhorrence see
58 Man, for such gaudes and baubles, violate
59 The sacred freedom of his fellow man
60 Erroneous estimate! As Heaven's pure air,
61 Fresh as it blows on this aërial height,
62 Or sound of seas upon the stony strand,
63 Or inland, the gay harmony of birds,
64 And winds that wander in the leafy woods;
65 Are to the unadulterate taste more worth
66 Than the elaborate harmony, brought out
67 From fretted stop, or modulated airs
68 Of vocal science.—So the brightest gems,
69 Glancing resplendent on the regal crown,
70 Or trembling in the high born beauty's ear,
71 Are poor and paltry, to the lovely light
72 Of the fair star, that as the day declines,
73 Attendant on her queen, the crescent moon,
74 Bathes her bright tresses in the eastern wave.
75 For now the sun is verging to the sea,
76 And as he westward sinks, the floating clouds
77 Suspended, move upon the evening gale,
78 And gathering round his orb, as if to shade
79 The insufferable brightness, they resign
80 Their gauzy whiteness; and more warm'd, assume
81 All hues of purple. There, transparent gold
82 Mingles with ruby tints, and sapphire gleams,
83 And colours, such as Nature through her works
84 Shews only in the ethereal canopy.
85 Thither aspiring Fancy fondly soars,
86 Wandering sublime thro' visionary vales,
87 Where bright pavilions rise, and trophies, fann'd
88 By airs celestial; and adorn'd with wreaths
89 Of flowers that bloom amid elysian bowers.
90 Now bright, and brighter still the colours glow,
91 Till half the lustrous orb within the flood
92 Seems to retire: the flood reflecting still
93 Its splendor, and in mimic glory drest;
94 Till the last ray shot upward, fires the clouds
95 With blazing crimson; then in paler light,
96 Long lines of tenderer radiance, lingering yield
97 To partial darkness; and on the opposing side
98 The early moon distinctly rising, throws
99 Her pearly brilliance on the trembling tide.
100 The fishermen, who at set seasons pass
101 Many a league off at sea their toiling night,
102 Now hail their comrades, from their daily task
103 Returning; and make ready for their own,
104 With the night tide commencing:—The night tide
105 Bears a dark vessel on, whose hull and sails
106 Mark her a coaster from the north. Her keel
107 Now ploughs the sand; and sidelong now she leans,
108 While with loud clamours her athletic crew
109 Unload her; and resounds the busy hum
110 Along the wave-worn rocks. Yet more remote,
111 Where the rough cliff hangs beetling o'er its base,
112 All breathes repose; the water's rippling sound
113 Scarce heard; but now and then the sea-snipe's cry
114 Just tells that something living is abroad;
115 And sometimes crossing on the moonbright line,
116 Glimmers the skiff, faintly discern'd awhile,
117 Then lost in shadow.

117 Contemplation here,
118 High on her throne of rock, aloof may sit,
119 And bid recording Memory unfold
120 Her scroll voluminous—bid her retrace
121 The period, when from Neustria's hostile shore
122 The Norman launch'd his galleys, and the bay
123 O'er which that mass of ruin frowns even now
124 In vain and sullen menace, then received
125 The new invaders; a proud martial race,
126 Of Scandinavia the undaunted sons,
127 Whom Dogon, Fier-a-bras, and Humfroi led
128 To conquest: while Trinacria to their power
129 Yielded her wheaten garland; and when thou,
130 Parthenope! within thy fertile bay
131 Receiv'd the victors—

131 In the mailed ranks
132 Of Normans landing on the British coast
133 Rode Taillefer; and with astounding voice
134 Thunder'd the war song daring Roland sang
135 First in the fierce contention: vainly brave,
136 One not inglorious struggle England made—
137 But failing, saw the Saxon heptarchy
138 Finish for ever.—Then the holy pile,
139 Yet seen upon the field of conquest, rose,
140 Where to appease heaven's wrath for so much blood,
141 The conqueror bade unceasing prayers ascend,
142 And requiems for the slayers and the slain.
143 But let not modern Gallia form from hence
144 Presumptuous hopes, that ever thou again,
145 Queen of the isles! shalt crouch to foreign arms.
146 The enervate sons of Italy may yield;
147 And the Iberian, all his trophies torn
148 And wrapp'd in Superstition's monkish weed,
149 May shelter his abasement, and put on
150 Degrading fetters. Never, never thou!
151 Imperial mistress of the obedient sea;
152 But thou, in thy integrity secure,
153 Shalt now undaunted meet a world in arms.

154 England! 'twas where this promontory rears
155 Its rugged brow above the channel wave,
156 Parting the hostile nations, that thy fame,
157 Thy naval fame was tarnish'd, at what time
158 Thou, leagued with the Batavian, gavest to France
159 One day of triumph—triumph the more loud,
160 Because even then so rare. Oh! well redeem'd,
161 Since, by a series of illustrious men,
162 Such as no other country ever rear'd,
163 To vindicate her cause. It is a list
164 Which, as Fame echoes it, blanches the cheek
165 Of bold Ambition; while the despot feels
166 The extorted sceptre tremble in his grasp.

167 From even the proudest roll by glory fill'd,
168 How gladly the reflecting mind returns
169 To simple scenes of peace and industry,
170 Where, bosom'd in some valley of the hills
171 Stands the lone farm; its gate with tawny ricks
172 Surrounded, and with granaries and sheds,
173 Roof'd with green mosses, and by elms and ash
174 Partially shaded; and not far remov'd
175 The hut of sea-flints built; the humble home
176 Of one, who sometimes watches on the heights,
177 When hid in the cold mist of passing clouds,
178 The flock, with dripping fleeces, are dispers'd
179 O'er the wide down; then from some ridged point
180 That overlooks the sea, his eager eye
181 Watches the bark that for his signal waits
182 To land its merchandize:—Quitting for this
183 Clandestine traffic his more honest toil,
184 The crook abandoning, he braves himself
185 The heaviest snow-storm of December's night,
186 When with conflicting winds the ocean raves,
187 And on the tossing boat, unfearing mounts
188 To meet the partners of the perilous trade,
189 And share their hazard. Well it were for him,
190 If no such commerce of destruction known,
191 He were content with what the earth affords
192 To human labour; even where she seems
193 Reluctant most. More happy is the hind,
194 Who, with his own hands rears on some black moor,
195 Or turbary, his independent hut
196 Cover'd with heather, whence the slow white smoke
197 Of smouldering peat arises—A few sheep,
198 His best possession, with his children share
199 The rugged shed when wintry tempests blow;
200 But, when with Spring's return the green blades rise
201 Amid the russet heath, the household live
202 Joint tenants of the waste throughout the day,
203 And often, from her nest, among the swamps,
204 Where the gemm'd sun-dew grows, or fring'd buck-bean,
205 They scare the plover, that with plaintive cries
206 Flutters, as sorely wounded, down the wind.
207 Rude, and but just remov'd from savage life
208 Is the rough dweller among scenes like these,
209 (Scenes all unlike the poet's fabling dreams
210 Describing Aready)—But he is free;
211 The dread that follows on illegal acts
212 He never feels; and his industrious mate
213 Shares in his labour. Where the brook is traced
214 By crouding osiers, and the black coot hides
215 Among the plashy reeds, her diving brood,
216 The matron wades; gathering the long green rush
217 That well prepar'd hereafter lends its light
218 To her poor cottage, dark and cheerless else
219 Thro' the drear hours of Winter. Otherwhile
220 She leads her infant group where charlock grows
221 "Unprofitably gay," or to the fields,
222 Where congregate the linnet and the finch,
223 That on the thistles, so profusely spread,
224 Feast in the desert; the poor family
225 Early resort, extirpating with care
226 These, and the gaudier mischief of the ground;
227 Then flames the high rais'd heap; seen afar off
228 Like hostile war-fires flashing to the sky.
229 Another task is theirs: On fields that shew
230 As angry Heaven had rain'd sterility,
231 Stony and cold, and hostile to the plough,
232 Where clamouring loud, the evening curlew runs
233 And drops her spotted eggs among the flints;
234 The mother and the children pile the stones
235 In rugged pyramids;—and all this toil
236 They patiently encounter; well content
237 On their flock bed to slumber undisturb'd
238 Beneath the smoky roof they call their own.
239 Oh! little knows the sturdy hind, who stands
240 Gazing, with looks where envy and contempt
241 Are often strangely mingled, on the car
242 Where prosperous Fortune sits; what secret care
243 Or sick satiety is often hid,
244 Beneath the splendid outside: He knows not
245 How frequently the child of Luxury
246 Enjoying nothing, flies from place to place
247 In chase of pleasure that eludes his grasp;
248 And that content is e'en less found by him,
249 Than by the labourer, whose pick-axe smooths
250 The road before his chariot; and who doffs
251 What was an hat; and as the train pass on,
252 Thinks how one day's expenditure, like this,
253 Would cheer him for long months, when to his toil
254 The frozen earth closes her marble breast.

255 Ah! who is happy? Happiness! a word
256 That like false fire, from marsh effluvia born,
257 Misleads the wanderer, destin'd to contend
258 In the world's wilderness, with want or woe—
259 Yet they are happy, who have never ask'd
260 What good or evil means. The boy
261 That on the river's margin gaily plays,
262 Has heard that Death is there—He knows not Death,
263 And therefore fears it not; and venturing in
264 He gains a bullrush, or a minnow—then,
265 At certain peril, for a worthless prize,
266 A crow's, or raven's nest, he climbs the boll
267 Of some tall pine; and of his prowess proud,
268 Is for a moment happy. Are your cares,
269 Ye who despise him, never worse applied?
270 The village girl is happy, who sets forth
271 To distant fair, gay in her Sunday suit,
272 With cherry colour'd knots, and flourish'd shawl,
273 And bonnet newly purchas'd. So is he
274 Her little brother, who his mimic drum
275 Beats, till he drowns her rural lovers' oaths
276 Of constant faith, and still increasing love;
277 Ah! yet a while, and half those oaths believ'd,
278 Her happiness is vanish'd; and the boy
279 While yet a stripling, finds the sound he lov'd
280 Has led him on, till he has given up
281 His freedom, and his happiness together.
282 I once was happy, when while yet a child,
283 I learn'd to love these upland solitudes,
284 And, when elastic as the mountain air,
285 To my light spirit, care was yet unknown
286 And evil unforeseen:—Early it came,
287 And childhood scarcely passed, I was condemned,
288 A guiltless exile, silently to sigh,
289 While Memory, with faithful pencil, drew
290 The contrast; and regretting, I compar'd
291 With the polluted smoky atmosphere
292 And dark and stifling streets, the southern hills
293 That to the setting Sun, their graceful heads
294 Rearing, o'erlook the frith, where Vecta breaks
295 With her white rocks, the strong impetuous tide,
296 When western winds the vast Atlantic urge
297 To thunder on the coast—Haunts of my youth!
298 Scenes of fond day-dreams, I behold ye yet!
299 Where 'twas so pleasant by thy northern slopes
300 To climb the winding sheep-path, aided oft
301 By scatter'd thorns: whose spiny branches bore
302 Small woolly tufts, spoils of the vagrant lamb
303 There seeking shelter from the noon-day sun;
304 And pleasant, seated on the short soft turf,
305 To look beneath upon the hollow way
306 While heavily upward mov'd the labouring wain,
307 And stalking slowly by, the sturdy hind
308 To ease his panting team, stopp'd with a stone
309 The grating wheel.

309 Advancing higher still
310 The prospect widens, and the village church
311 But little, o'er the lowly roofs around
312 Rears its gray belfry, and its simple vane;
313 Those lowly roofs of thatch are half conceal'd
314 By the rude arms of trees, lovely in spring,
315 When on each bough, the rosy-tinctur'd bloom
316 Sits thick, and promises autumnal plenty.
317 For even those orchards round the Norman farms,
318 Which, as their owners mark the promis'd fruit,
319 Console them for the vineyards of the south,
320 Surpass not these.

320 Where woods of ash, and beech,
321 And partial copses, fringe the green hill foot,
322 The upland shepherd rears his modest home,
323 There wanders by, a little nameless stream
324 That from the hill wells forth, bright now and clear,
325 Or after rain with chalky mixture gray,
326 But still refreshing in its shallow course,
327 The cottage garden; most for use design'd,
328 Yet not of beauty destitute. The vine
329 Mantles the little casement; yet the briar
330 Drops fragrant dew among the July flowers;
331 And pansies rayed, and freak'd and mottled pinks
332 Grow among balm, and rosemary and rue:
333 There honeysuckles flaunt, and roses blow
334 Almost uncultured: Some with dark green leaves
335 Contrast their flowers of pure unsullied white;
336 Others, like velvet robes of regal state
337 Of richest crimson, while in thorny moss
338 Enshrined and cradled, the most lovely, wear
339 The hues of youthful beauty's glowing cheek.—
340 With fond regret I recollect e'en now
341 In Spring and Summer, what delight I felt
342 Among these cottage gardens, and how much
343 Such artless nosegays, knotted with a rush
344 By village housewife or her ruddy maid,
345 Were welcome to me; soon and simply pleas'd.

346 An early worshipper at Nature's shrine,
347 I loved her rudest scenes—warrens, and heaths,
348 And yellow commons, and birch-shaded hollows,
349 And hedge rows, bordering unfrequented lanes
350 Bowered with wild roses, and the clasping woodbine
351 Where purple tassels of the tangling vetch
352 With bittersweet, and bryony inweave,
353 And the dew fills the silver bindweed's cups—
354 I loved to trace the brooks whose humid banks
355 Nourish the harebell, and the freckled pagil;
356 And stroll among o'ershadowing woods of beech,
357 Lending in Summer, from the heats of noon
358 A whispering shade; while haply there reclines
359 Some pensive lover of uncultur'd flowers,
360 Who, from the tumps with bright green mosses clad,
361 Plucks the wood sorrel, with its light thin leaves,
362 Heart-shaped, and triply folded; and its root
363 Creeping like beaded coral; or who there
364 Gathers, the copse's pride, anémones,
365 With rays like golden studs on ivory laid
366 Most delicate: but touch'd with purple clouds,
367 Fit crown for April's fair but changeful brow.

368 Ah! hills so early loved! in fancy still
369 I breathe your pure keen air; and still behold
370 Those widely spreading views, mocking alike
371 The Poet and the Painter's utmost art.
372 And still, observing objects more minute,
373 Wondering remark the strange and foreign forms
374 Of sea-shells; with the pale calcareous soil
375 Mingled, and seeming of resembling substance.
376 Tho' surely the blue Ocean (from the heights
377 Where the downs westward trend, but dimly seen)
378 Here never roll'd its surge. Does Nature then
379 Mimic, in wanton mood, fantastic shapes
380 Of bivalves, and inwreathed volutes, that cling
381 To the dark sea-rock of the wat'ry world?
382 Or did this range of chalky mountains, once
383 Form a vast bason, where the Ocean waves
384 Swell'd fathomless? What time these fossil shells,
385 Buoy'd on their native element, were thrown
386 Among the imbedding calx: when the huge hill
387 Its giant bulk heaved, and in strange ferment
388 Grew up a guardian barrier, 'twixt the sea
389 And the green level of the sylvan weald.

390 Ah! very vain is Science' proudest boast,
391 And but a little light its flame yet lends
392 To its most ardent votaries; since from whence
393 These fossil forms are seen, is but conjecture,
394 Food for vague theories, or vain dispute,
395 While to his daily task the peasant goes,
396 Unheeding such inquiry; with no care
397 But that the kindly change of sun and shower,
398 Fit for his toil the earth he cultivates.
399 As little recks the herdsman of the hill,
400 Who on some turfy knoll, idly reclined,
401 Watches his wether flock; that deep beneath
402 Rest the remains of men, of whom is left
403 No traces in the records of mankind,
404 Save what these half obliterated mounds
405 And half fill'd trenches doubtfully impart
406 To some lone antiquary; who on times remote,
407 Since which two thousand years have roll'd away,
408 Loves to contemplate. He perhaps may trace,
409 Or fancy he can trace, the oblong square
410 Where the mail'd legions, under Claudius, rear'd
411 The rampire, or excavated fossé delved;
412 What time the huge unwieldy Elephant
413 Auxiliary reluctant, hither led,
414 From Afric's forest glooms and tawny sands,
415 First felt the Northern blast, and his vast frame
416 Sunk useless; whence in after ages found,
417 The wondering hinds, on those enormous bones
418 Gaz'd; and in giants dwelling on the hills
419 Believed and marvell'd—
419 Hither, Ambition, come!
420 Come and behold the nothingness of all
421 For which you carry thro' the oppressed Earth,
422 War, and its train of horrors—see where tread
423 The innumerous hoofs of flocks above the works
424 By which the warrior sought to register
425 His glory, and immortalize his name—
426 The pirate Dane, who from his circular camp
427 Bore in destructive robbery, fire and sword
428 Down thro' the vale, sleeps unremember'd here;
429 And here, beneath the green sward, rests alike
430 The savage native, who his acorn meal
431 Shar'd with the herds, that ranged the pathless woods;
432 And the centurion, who on these wide hills
433 Encamping, planted the Imperial Eagle.
434 All, with the lapse of Time, have passed away,
435 Even as the clouds, with dark and dragon shapes,
436 Or like vast promontories crown'd with towers,
437 Cast their broad shadows on the downs: then sail
438 Far to the northward, and their transient gloom
439 Is soon forgotten.

439 But from thoughts like these,
440 By human crimes suggested, let us turn
441 To where a more attractive study courts
442 The wanderer of the hills; while shepherd girls
443 Will from among the fescue bring him flowers,
444 Of wonderous mockery; some resembling bees
445 In velvet vest, intent on their sweet toil,
446 While others mimic flies, that lightly sport
447 In the green shade, or float along the pool,
448 But here seem perch'd upon the slender stalk,
449 And gathering honey dew. While in the breeze
450 That wafts the thistle's plumed seed along,
451 Blue bells wave tremulous. The mountain thyme
452 Purples the hassock of the heaving mole,
453 And the short turf is gay with tormentil,
454 And bird's foot trefoil, and the lesser tribes
455 Of hawkweed; spangling it with fringed stars.—
456 Near where a richer tract of cultur'd land
457 Slopes to the south; and burnished by the sun,
458 Bend in the gale of August, floods of corn;
459 The guardian of the flock, with watchful care,
460 Repels by voice and dog the encroaching sheep—
461 While his boy visits every wired trap
462 That scars the turf; and from the pit-falls takes
463 The timid migrants, who from distant wilds,
464 Warrens, and stone quarries, are destined thus
465 To lose their short existence. But unsought
466 By Luxury yet, the Shepherd still protects
467 The social bird, who from his native haunts
468 Of willowy current, or the rushy pool,
469 Follows the fleecy croud, and flirts and skims,
470 In fellowship among them.

470 Where the knoll
471 More elevated takes the changeful winds,
472 The windmill rears its vanes; and thitherward
473 With his white load, the master travelling,
474 Scares the rooks rising slow on whispering wings,
475 While o'er his head, before the summer sun
476 Lights up the blue expanse, heard more than seen,
477 The lark sings matins; and above the clouds
478 Floating, embathes his spotted breast in dew.
479 Beneath the shadow of a gnarled thorn,
480 Bent by the sea blast, from a seat of turf
481 With fairy nosegays strewn, how wide the view!
482 Till in the distant north it melts away,
483 And mingles indiscriminate with clouds:
484 But if the eye could reach so far, the mart
485 Of England's capital, its domes and spires
486 Might be perceived—Yet hence the distant range
487 Of Kentish hills, appear in purple haze;
488 And nearer, undulate the wooded heights,
489 And airy summits, that above the mole
490 Rise in green beauty; and the beacon'd ridge
491 Of Black-down shagg'd with heath, and swelling rude
492 Like a dark island from the vale; its brow
493 Catching the last rays of the evening sun
494 That gleam between the nearer park's old oaks,
495 Then lighten up the river, and make prominent
496 The portal, and the ruin'd battlements
497 Of that dismantled fortress; rais'd what time
498 The Conqueror's successors fiercely fought,
499 Tearing with civil feuds the desolate land.
500 But now a tiller of the soil dwells there,
501 And of the turret's loop'd and rafter'd halls
502 Has made an humbler homestead—Where he sees,
503 Instead of armed foemen, herds that graze
504 Along his yellow meadows; or his flocks
505 At evening from the upland driv'n to fold—

506 In such a castellated mansion once
507 A stranger chose his home; and where hard by
508 In rude disorder fallen, and hid with brushwood
509 Lay fragments gray of towers and buttresses,
510 Among the ruins, often he would muse—
511 His rustic meal soon ended, he was wont
512 To wander forth, listening the evening sounds
513 Of rushing milldam, or the distant team,
514 Or night-jar, chasing fern-flies: the tir'd hind
515 Pass'd him at nightfall, wondering he should sit
516 On the hill top so late: they from the coast
517 Who sought bye paths with their clandestine load,
518 Saw with suspicious doubt, the lonely man
519 Cross on their way: but village maidens thought
520 His senses injur'd; and with pity say
521 That he, poor youth! must have been cross'd in love—
522 For often, stretch'd upon the mountain turf
523 With folded arms, and eyes intently fix'd
524 Where ancient elms and firs obscured a grange,
525 Some little space within the vale below,
526 They heard him, as complaining of his fate,
527 And to the murmuring wind, of cold neglect
528 And baffled hope he told.—The peasant girls
529 These plaintive sounds remember, and even now
530 Among them may be heard the stranger's songs.


531 Were I a Shepherd on the hill
532 And ever as the mists withdrew
533 Could see the willows of the rill
534 Shading the footway to the mill
535 Where once I walk'd with you—

536 And as away Night's shadows sail,
537 And sounds of birds and brooks arise,
538 Believe, that from the woody vale
539 I hear your voice upon the gale
540 In soothing melodies;

541 And viewing from the Alpine height,
542 The prospect dress'd in hues of air,
543 Could say, while transient colours bright
544 Touch'd the fair scene with dewy light,
545 'Tis, that her eyes are there!

546 I think, I could endure my lot
547 And linger on a few short years,
548 And then, by all but you forgot,
549 Sleep, where the turf that clothes the spot
550 May claim some pitying tears.

551 For 'tis not easy to forget
552 One, who thro' life has lov'd you still,
553 And you, however late, might yet
554 With sighs to Memory giv'n, regret
555 The Shepherd of the Hill.

556 Yet otherwhile it seem'd as if young Hope
557 Her flattering pencil gave to Fancy's hand,
558 And in his wanderings, rear'd to sooth his soul
559 Ideal bowers of pleasure—Then, of Solitude
560 And of his hermit life, still more enamour'd,
561 His home was in the forest; and wild fruits
562 And bread sustain'd him. There in early spring
563 The Barkmen found him, e'er the sun arose;
564 There at their daily toil, the Wedgecutters
565 Beheld him thro' the distant thicket move.
566 The shaggy dog following the truffle hunter,
567 Bark'd at the loiterer; and perchance at night
568 Belated villagers from fair or wake,
569 While the fresh night-wind let the moonbeams in
570 Between the swaying boughs, just saw him pass,
571 And then in silence, gliding like a ghost
572 He vanish'd! Lost among the deepening gloom.—
573 But near one ancient tree, whose wreathed roots
574 Form'd a rude couch, love-songs and scatter'd rhymes,
575 Unfinish'd sentences, or half erased,
576 And rhapsodies like this, were sometimes found—

577 Let us to woodland wilds repair
578 While yet the glittering night-dews seem
579 To wait the freshly-breathing air,
580 Precursive of the morning beam,
581 That rising with advancing day,
582 Scatters the silver drops away.

583 An elm, uprooted by the storm,
584 The trunk with mosses gray and green,
585 Shall make for us a rustic form,
586 Where lighter grows the forest scene;
587 And far among the bowery shades,
588 Are ferny lawns and grassy glades.


589 Retiring May to lovely June
590 Her latest garland now resigns;
591 The banks with cuckoo-flowers are strewn,
592 The woodwalks blue with columbines,
593 And with its reeds, the wandering stream
594 Reflects the flag-flower's golden gleam.

595 There, feathering down the turf to meet,
596 Their shadowy arms the beeches spread,
597 While high above our sylvan seat,
598 Lifts the light ash its airy head;
599 And later leaved, the oaks between
600 Extend their bows of vernal green.

601 The slender birch its paper rind
602 Seems offering to divided love,
603 And shuddering even without a wind
604 Aspins, their paler foliage move,
605 As if some spirit of the air
606 Breath'd a low sigh in passing there.

607 The Squirrel in his frolic mood,
608 Will fearless bound among the boughs;
609 Yaffils laugh loudly thro' the wood,
610 And murmuring ring-doves tell their vows;
611 While we, as sweetest woodscents rise,
612 Listen to woodland melodies.

613 And I'll contrive a sylvan room
614 Against the time of summer heat,
615 Where leaves, inwoven in Nature's loom,
616 Shall canopy our green retreat;
617 And gales that "close the eye of day"
618 Shall linger, e'er they die away.

619 And when a sear and sallow hue
620 From early frost the bower receives,
621 I'll dress the sand rock cave for you,
622 And strew the floor with heath and leaves,
623 That you, against the autumnal air
624 May find securer shelter there.

625 The Nightingale will then have ceas'd
626 To sing her moonlight serenade;
627 But the gay bird with blushing breast,
628 And Woodlarks still will haunt the shade,
629 And by the borders of the spring
630 Reed-wrens will yet be carolling.

631 The forest hermit's lonely cave
632 None but such soothing sounds shall reach,
633 Or hardly heard, the distant wave
634 Slow breaking on the stony beach;
635 Or winds, that now sigh soft and low,
636 Now make wild music as they blow.

637 And then, before the chilling North
638 The tawny foliage falling light,
639 Seems, as it flits along the earth,
640 The footfall of the busy Sprite,
641 Who wrapt in pale autumnal gloom,
642 Calls up the mist-born Mushroom.

643 Oh! could I hear your soft voice there,
644 And see you in the forest green
645 All beauteous as you are, more fair
646 You'ld look, amid the sylvan scene,
647 And in a wood-girl's simple guise,
648 Be still more lovely in mine eyes.

649 Ye phantoms of unreal delight,
650 Visions of fond delirium born!
651 Rise not on my deluded sight,
652 Then leave me drooping and forlorn
653 To know, such bliss can never be,
654 Unless — loved like me.


655 The visionary, nursing dreams like these,
656 Is not indeed unhappy. Summer woods
657 Wave over him, and whisper as they wave,
658 Some future blessings he may yet enjoy.
659 And as above him sail the silver clouds,
660 He follows them in thought to distant climes,
661 Where, far from the cold policy of this,

662 Dividing him from her he fondly loves,
663 He, in some island of the southern sea,
664 May haply build his cane-constructed bower
665 Beneath the bread-fruit, or aspiring palm,
666 With long green foliage rippling in the gale.
667 Oh! let him cherish his ideal bliss—
668 For what is life, when Hope has ceas'd to strew
669 Her fragile flowers along its thorny way?
670 And sad and gloomy are his days, who lives
671 Of Hope abandon'd!

671 Just beneath the rock
672 Where Beachy overpeers the channel wave,
673 Within a cavern mined by wintry tides
674 Dwelt one, who long disgusted with the world
675 And all its ways, appear'd to suffer life

676 Rather than live; the soul-reviving gale,
677 Fanning the bean-field, or the thymy heath,
678 Had not for many summers breathed on him;
679 And nothing mark'd to him the season's change,
680 Save that more gently rose the placid sea,
681 And that the birds which winter on the coast
682 Gave place to other migrants; save that the fog,
683 Hovering no more above the beetling cliffs
684 Betray'd not then the little careless sheep
685 On the brink grazing, while their headlong fall
686 Near the lone Hermit's flint-surrounded home,
687 Claim'd unavailing pity; for his heart
688 Was feelingly alive to all that breath'd;
689 And outraged as he was, in sanguine youth,
690 By human crimes, he still acutely felt
691 For human misery.
691 Wandering on the beach,
692 He learn'd to augur from the clouds of heaven,
693 And from the changing colours of the sea,
694 And sullen murmurs of the hollow cliffs,
695 Or the dark porpoises, that near the shore
696 Gambol'd and sported on the level brine
697 When tempests were approaching: then at night
698 He listen'd to the wind; and as it drove
699 The billows with o'erwhelming vehemence
700 He, starting from his rugged couch, went forth
701 And hazarding a life, too valueless,
702 He waded thro' the waves, with plank or pole
703 Towards where the mariner in conflict dread
704 Was buffeting for life the roaring surge;
705 And now just seen, now lost in foaming gulphs,
706 The dismal gleaming of the clouded moon
707 Shew'd the dire peril. Often he had snatch'd
708 From the wild billows, some unhappy man
709 Who liv'd to bless the hermit of the rocks.
710 But if his generous cares were all in vain,
711 And with slow swell the tide of morning bore
712 Some blue swol'n cor'se to land; the pale recluse
713 Dug in the chalk a sepulchre—above
714 Where the dank sea-wrack mark'd the utmost tide,
715 And with his prayers perform'd the obsequies
716 For the poor helpless stranger.

716 One dark night
717 The equinoctial wind blew south by west,
718 Fierce on the shore;—the bellowing cliffs were shook
719 Even to their stony base, and fragments fell
720 Flashing and thundering on the angry flood.
721 At day-break, anxious for the lonely man,
722 His cave the mountain shepherds visited,
723 Tho' sand and banks of weeds had choak'd their way—
724 He was not in it; but his drowned cor'se
725 By the waves wafted, near his former home
726 Receiv'd the rites of burial. Those who read
727 Chisel'd within the rock, these mournful lines,
728 Memorials of his sufferings, did not grieve,
729 That dying in the cause of charity
730 His spirit, from its earthly bondage freed,
731 Had to some better region fled for ever.

ON thy stupendous summit, rock sublime !
That o'er the channel rear'd, half way at sea
The mariner at early morning hails,
I would recline; while Fancy should go forth,
And represent the strange and awful hour
Of vast concussion; when the Omnipotent
Stretch'd forth his arm, and rent the solid hills,
Bidding the impetuous main flood rush between

The rifted shores, and from the continent
Eternally divided this green isle.
Imperial lord of the high southern coast !
From thy projecting head-land I would mark
Far in the east the shades of night disperse,
Melting and thinned, as from the dark blue wave
Emerging, brilliant rays of arrowy light
Dart from the horizon; when the glorious sun
Just lifts above it his resplendent orb.
Advances now, with feathery silver touched,
The rippling tide of flood; glisten the sands,
While, inmates of the chalky clefts that scar
Thy sides precipitous, with shrill harsh cry,
Their white wings glancing in the level beam,
The terns, and gulls, and tarrocks, seek their food,
And thy rough hollows echo to the voice

Of the gray choughs, and ever restless daws,
With clamour, not unlike the chiding hounds,
While the lone shepherd, and his baying dog,
Drive to thy turfy crest his bleating flock.
The high meridian of the day is past,
And Ocean now, reflecting the calm Heaven,
Is of cerulean hue; and murmurs low
The tide of ebb, upon the level sands.
The sloop, her angular canvas shifting still,
Catches the light and variable airs
That but a little crisp the summer sea.
Dimpling its tranquil surface.
Afar off,
And just emerging from the arch immense

Where seem to part the elements, a fleet
Of fishing vessels stretch their lesser sails;
While more remote, and like a dubious spot
Just hanging in the horizon, laden deep,
The ship of commerce richly freighted, makes
Her slower progress, on her distant voyage,
Bound to the orient climates, where the sun
Matures the spice within its odorous shell,
And, rivalling the gray worm's filmy toil,
Bursts from its pod the vegetable down;
Which in long turban'd wreaths, from torrid heat
Defends the brows of Asia's countless casts.
There the Earth hides within her glowing breast
The beamy adamant, and the round pearl
Enchased in rugged covering; which the slave,
With perilous and breathless toil, tears off

From the rough sea-rock, deep beneath the waves.
These are the toys of Nature; and her sport
Of little estimate in Reason's eye:
And they who reason, with abhorrence see
Man, for such gaudes and baubles, violate
The sacred freedom of his fellow man­
Erroneous estimate ! As Heaven's pure air,
Fresh as it blows on this aërial height,
Or sound of seas upon the stony strand,
Or inland, the gay harmony of birds,
And winds that wander in the leafy woods;
Are to the unadulterate taste more worth
Than the elaborate harmony, brought out
From fretted stop, or modulated airs
Of vocal science.­So the brightest gems,
Glancing resplendent on the regal crown,

Or trembling in the high born beauty's ear,
Are poor and paltry, to the lovely light
Of the fair star, that as the day declines,
Attendant on her queen, the crescent moon,
Bathes her bright tresses in the eastern wave.
For now the sun is verging to the sea,
And as he westward sinks, the floating clouds
Suspended, move upon the evening gale,
And gathering round his orb, as if to shade
The insufferable brightness, they resign
Their gauzy whiteness; and more warm'd, assume
All hues of purple. There, transparent gold
Mingles with ruby tints, and sapphire gleams,
And colours, such as Nature through her works
Shews only in the ethereal canopy.
Thither aspiring Fancy fondly soars,

Wandering sublime thro' visionary vales,
Where bright pavilions rise, and trophies, fann'd
By airs celestial; and adorn'd with wreaths
Of flowers that bloom amid elysian bowers.
Now bright, and brighter still the colours glow,
Till half the lustrous orb within the flood
Seems to retire: the flood reflecting still
Its splendor, and in mimic glory drest;
Till the last ray shot upward, fires the clouds
With blazing crimson; then in paler light,
Long lines of tenderer radiance, lingering yield
To partial darkness; and on the opposing side
The early moon distinctly rising, throws
Her pearly brilliance on the trembling tide.

The fishermen, who at set seasons pass
Many a league off at sea their toiling night,
Now hail their comrades, from their daily task
Returning; and make ready for their own,
With the night tide commencing:­The night tide
Bears a dark vessel on, whose hull and sails
Mark her a coaster from the north. Her keel
Now ploughs the sand; and sidelong now she leans,
While with loud clamours her athletic crew
Unload her; and resounds the busy hum
Along the wave-worn rocks. Yet more remote,
Where the rough cliff hangs beetling o'er its base,
All breathes repose; the water's rippling sound
Scarce heard; but now and then the sea-snipe's cry
Just tells that something living is abroad;
And sometimes crossing on the moonbright line,

Glimmers the skiff, faintly discern'd awhile,
Then lost in shadow.
Contemplation here,
High on her throne of rock, aloof may sit,
And bid recording Memory unfold
Her scroll voluminous­bid her retrace
The period, when from Neustria's hostile shore
The Norman launch'd his galleys, and the bay
O'er which that mass of ruin frowns even now
In vain and sullen menace, then received
The new invaders; a proud martial race,
Of Scandinavia the undaunted sons,
Whom Dogon, Fier-a-bras, and Humfroi led
To conquest: while Trinacria to their power
Yielded her wheaten garland; and when thou,

Parthenope ! within thy fertile bay
Receiv'd the victors­
In the mailed ranks
Of Normans landing on the British coast
Rode Taillefer; and with astounding voice
Thunder'd the war song daring Roland sang
First in the fierce contention: vainly brave,
One not inglorious struggle England made­
But failing, saw the Saxon heptarchy
Finish for ever.­Then the holy pile,
Yet seen upon the field of conquest, rose,
Where to appease heaven's wrath for so much blood,
The conqueror bade unceasing prayers ascend,
And requiems for the slayers and the slain.
But let not modern Gallia form from hence

Presumptuous hopes, that ever thou again,
Queen of the isles ! shalt crouch to foreign arms.
The enervate sons of Italy may yield;
And the Iberian, all his trophies torn
And wrapp'd in Superstition's monkish weed,
May shelter his abasement, and put on
Degrading fetters. Never, never thou !
Imperial mistress of the obedient sea;
But thou, in thy integrity secure,
Shalt now undaunted meet a world in arms.
England ! 'twas where this promontory rears
Its rugged brow above the channel wave,
Parting the hostile nations, that thy fame,
Thy naval fame was tarnish'd, at what time
Thou, leagued with the Batavian, gavest to France

One day of triumph­triumph the more loud,
Because even then so rare. Oh ! well redeem'd,
Since, by a series of illustrious men,
Such as no other country ever rear'd,
To vindicate her cause. It is a list
Which, as Fame echoes it, blanches the cheek
Of bold Ambition; while the despot feels
The extorted sceptre tremble in his grasp.
From even the proudest roll by glory fill'd,
How gladly the reflecting mind returns
To simple scenes of peace and industry,
Where, bosom'd in some valley of the hills
Stands the lone farm; its gate with tawny ricks
Surrounded, and with granaries and sheds,
Roof'd with green mosses, and by elms and ash

Partially shaded; and not far remov'd
The hut of sea-flints built; the humble home
Of one, who sometimes watches on the heights,
When hid in the cold mist of passing clouds,
The flock, with dripping fleeces, are dispers'd
O'er the wide down; then from some ridged point
That overlooks the sea, his eager eye
Watches the bark that for his signal waits
To land its merchandize:­Quitting for this
Clandestine traffic his more honest toil,
The crook abandoning, he braves himself
The heaviest snow-storm of December's night,
When with conflicting winds the ocean raves,
And on the tossing boat, unfearing mounts
To meet the partners of the perilous trade,
And share their hazard. Well it were for him,

If no such commerce of destruction known,
He were content with what the earth affords
To human labour; even where she seems
Reluctant most. More happy is the hind,
Who, with his own hands rears on some black moor,
Or turbary, his independent hut
Cover'd with heather, whence the slow white smoke
Of smouldering peat arises­­A few sheep,
His best possession, with his children share
The rugged shed when wintry tempests blow;
But, when with Spring's return the green blades rise
Amid the russet heath, the household live
Joint tenants of the waste throughout the day,
And often, from her nest, among the swamps,
Where the gemm'd sun-dew grows, or fring'd buck-bean,
They scare the plover, that with plaintive cries

Flutters, as sorely wounded, down the wind.
Rude, and but just remov'd from savage life
Is the rough dweller among scenes like these,
(Scenes all unlike the poet's fabling dreams
Describing Arcady)­But he is free;
The dread that follows on illegal acts
He never feels; and his industrious mate
Shares in his labour. Where the brook is traced
By crouding osiers, and the black coot hides
Among the plashy reeds, her diving brood,
The matron wades; gathering the long green rush
That well prepar'd hereafter lends its light
To her poor cottage, dark and cheerless else
Thro' the drear hours of Winter. Otherwhile
She leads her infant group where charlock grows
'Unprofitably gay,' or to the fields,

Where congregate the linnet and the finch,
That on the thistles, so profusely spread,
Feast in the desert; the poor family
Early resort, extirpating with care
These, and the gaudier mischief of the ground;
Then flames the high rais'd heap; seen afar off
Like hostile war-fires flashing to the sky.
Another task is theirs: On fields that shew
As angry Heaven had rain'd sterility,
Stony and cold, and hostile to the plough,
Where clamouring loud, the evening curlew runs
And drops her spotted eggs among the flints;
The mother and the children pile the stones
In rugged pyramids;­and all this toil
They patiently encounter; well content
On their flock bed to slumber undisturb'd

Beneath the smoky roof they call their own.
Oh ! little knows the sturdy hind, who stands
Gazing, with looks where envy and contempt
Are often strangely mingled, on the car
Where prosperous Fortune sits; what secret care
Or sick satiety is often hid,
Beneath the splendid outside: He knows not
How frequently the child of Luxury
Enjoying nothing, flies from place to place
In chase of pleasure that eludes his grasp;
And that content is e'en less found by him,
Than by the labourer, whose pick-axe smooths
The road before his chariot; and who doffs
What was an hat; and as the train pass on,
Thinks how one day's expenditure, like this,

Would cheer him for long months, when to his toil
The frozen earth closes her marble breast.
Ah ! who is happy ? Happiness ! a word
That like false fire, from marsh effluvia born,
Misleads the wanderer, destin'd to contend
In the world's wilderness, with want or woe­
Yet they are happy, who have never ask'd
What good or evil means. The boy
That on the river's margin gaily plays,
Has heard that Death is there­He knows not Death,
And therefore fears it not; and venturing in
He gains a bullrush, or a minnow­then,
At certain peril, for a worthless prize,
A crow's, or raven's nest, he climbs the boll,

Of some tall pine; and of his prowess proud,
Is for a moment happy. Are your cares,
Ye who despise him, never worse applied ?
The village girl is happy, who sets forth
To distant fair, gay in her Sunday suit,
With cherry colour'd knots, and flourish'd shawl,
And bonnet newly purchas'd. So is he
Her little brother, who his mimic drum
Beats, till he drowns her rural lovers' oaths
Of constant faith, and still increasing love;
Ah ! yet a while, and half those oaths believ'd,
Her happiness is vanish'd; and the boy
While yet a stripling, finds the sound he lov'd
Has led him on, till he has given up
His freedom, and his happiness together.

I once was happy, when while yet a child,
I learn'd to love these upland solitudes,
And, when elastic as the mountain air,
To my light spirit, care was yet unknown
And evil unforeseen:­Early it came,
And childhood scarcely passed, I was condemned,
A guiltless exile, silently to sigh,
While Memory, with faithful pencil, drew
The contrast; and regretting, I compar'd
With the polluted smoky atmosphere
And dark and stifling streets, the southern hills
That to the setting Sun, their graceful heads
Rearing, o'erlook the frith, where Vecta breaks
With her white rocks, the strong impetuous tide,
When western winds the vast Atlantic urge
To thunder on the coast­Haunts of my youth !

Scenes of fond day dreams, I behold ye yet !
Where 'twas so pleasant by thy northern slopes
To climb the winding sheep-path, aided oft
By scatter'd thorns: whose spiny branches bore
Small woolly tufts, spoils of the vagrant lamb
There seeking shelter from the noon-day sun;
And pleasant, seated on the short soft turf,
To look beneath upon the hollow way
While heavily upward mov'd the labouring wain,
And stalking slowly by, the sturdy hind
To ease his panting team, stopp'd with a stone
The grating wheel.
Advancing higher still
The prospect widens, and the village church
But little, o'er the lowly roofs around

Rears its gray belfry, and its simple vane;
Those lowly roofs of thatch are half conceal'd
By the rude arms of trees, lovely in spring,
When on each bough, the rosy-tinctur'd bloom
Sits thick, and promises autumnal plenty.
For even those orchards round the Norman farms,
Which, as their owners mark the promis'd fruit,
Console them for the vineyards of the south,
Surpass not these.
Where woods of ash, and beech,
And partial copses, fringe the green hill foot,
The upland shepherd rears his modest home,
There wanders by, a little nameless stream
That from the hill wells forth, bright now and clear,
Or after rain with chalky mixture gray,

But still refreshing in its shallow course,
The cottage garden; most for use design'd,
Yet not of beauty destitute. The vine
Mantles the little casement; yet the briar
Drops fragrant dew among the July flowers;
And pansies rayed, and freak'd and mottled pinks
Grow among balm, and rosemary and rue:
There honeysuckles flaunt, and roses blow
Almost uncultured: Some with dark green leaves
Contrast their flowers of pure unsullied white;
Others, like velvet robes of regal state
Of richest crimson, while in thorny moss
Enshrined and cradled, the most lovely, wear
The hues of youthful beauty's glowing cheek.­
With fond regret I recollect e'en now
In Spring and Summer, what delight I felt

Among these cottage gardens, and how much
Such artless nosegays, knotted with a rush
By village housewife or her ruddy maid,
Were welcome to me; soon and simply pleas'd.
An early worshipper at Nature's shrine;
I loved her rudest scenes­warrens, and heaths,
And yellow commons, and birch-shaded hollows,
And hedge rows, bordering unfrequented lanes
Bowered with wild roses, and the clasping woodbine
Where purple tassels of the tangling vetch
With bittersweet, and bryony inweave,
And the dew fills the silver bindweed's cups­
I loved to trace the brooks whose humid banks
Nourish the harebell, and the freckled pagil;
And stroll among o'ershadowing woods of beech,

Lending in Summer, from the heats of noon
A whispering shade; while haply there reclines
Some pensive lover of uncultur'd flowers,
Who, from the tumps with bright green mosses clad,
Plucks the wood sorrel, with its light thin leaves,
Heart-shaped, and triply folded; and its root
Creeping like beaded coral; or who there
Gathers, the copse's pride, anémones,
With rays like golden studs on ivory laid
Most delicate: but touch'd with purple clouds,
Fit crown for April's fair but changeful brow.
Ah ! hills so early loved ! in fancy still
I breathe your pure keen air; and still behold
Those widely spreading views, mocking alike
The Poet and the Painter's utmost art.

And still, observing objects more minute,
Wondering remark the strange and foreign forms
Of sea-shells; with the pale calcareous soil
Mingled, and seeming of resembling substance.
Tho' surely the blue Ocean (from the heights
Where the downs westward trend, but dimly seen)
Here never roll'd its surge. Does Nature then
Mimic, in wanton mood, fantastic shapes
Of bivalves, and inwreathed volutes, that cling
To the dark sea-rock of the wat'ry world ?
Or did this range of chalky mountains, once
Form a vast bason, where the Ocean waves
Swell'd fathomless ? What time these fossil shells,
Buoy'd on their native element, were thrown
Among the imbedding calx: when the huge hill
Its giant bulk heaved, and in strange ferment

Grew up a guardian barrier, 'twixt the sea
And the green level of the sylvan weald.
Ah ! very vain is Science' proudest boast,
And but a little light its flame yet lends
To its most ardent votaries; since from whence
These fossil forms are seen, is but conjecture,
Food for vague theories, or vain dispute,
While to his daily task the peasant goes,
Unheeding such inquiry; with no care
But that the kindly change of sun and shower,
Fit for his toil the earth he cultivates.
As little recks the herdsman of the hill,
Who on some turfy knoll, idly reclined,
Watches his wether flock; that deep beneath
Rest the remains of men, of whom is left

No traces in the records of mankind,
Save what these half obliterated mounds
And half fill'd trenches doubtfully impart
To some lone antiquary; who on times remote,
Since which two thousand years have roll'd away,
Loves to contemplate. He perhaps may trace,
Or fancy he can trace, the oblong square
Where the mail'd legions, under Claudius, rear'd,
The rampire, or excavated fossé delved;
What time the huge unwieldy Elephant
Auxiliary reluctant, hither led,
From Afric's forest glooms and tawny sands,
First felt the Northern blast, and his vast frame
Sunk useless; whence in after ages found,
The wondering hinds, on those enormous bones
Gaz'd; and in giants dwelling on the hills
Believed and marvell'd­

Hither, Ambition, come !
Come and behold the nothingness of all
For which you carry thro' the oppressed Earth,
War, and its train of horrors­see where tread
The innumerous hoofs of flocks above the works
By which the warrior sought to register
His glory, and immortalize his name­
The pirate Dane, who from his circular camp
Bore in destructive robbery, fire and sword
Down thro' the vale, sleeps unremember'd here;
And here, beneath the green sward, rests alike
The savage native, who his acorn meal
Shar'd with the herds, that ranged the pathless woods;
And the centurion, who on these wide hills
Encamping, planted the Imperial Eagle.
All, with the lapse of Time, have passed away,

Even as the clouds, with dark and dragon shapes,
Or like vast promontories crown'd with towers,
Cast their broad shadows on the downs: then sail
Far to the northward, and their transient gloom
Is soon forgotten.
But from thoughts like these,
By human crimes suggested, let us turn
To where a more attractive study courts
The wanderer of the hills; while shepherd girls
Will from among the fescue bring him flowers,
Of wonderous mockery; some resembling bees
In velvet vest, intent on their sweet toil,
While others mimic flies, that lightly sport
In the green shade, or float along the pool,
But here seem perch'd upon the slender stalk,

And gathering honey dew. While in the breeze
That wafts the thistle's plumed seed along,
Blue bells wave tremulous. The mountain thyme
Purples the hassock of the heaving mole,
And the short turf is gay with tormentil,
And bird's foot trefoil, and the lesser tribes
Of hawkweed; spangling it with fringed stars.­
Near where a richer tract of cultur'd land
Slopes to the south; and burnished by the sun,
Bend in the gale of August, floods of corn;
The guardian of the flock, with watchful care,
Repels by voice and dog the encroaching sheep­
While his boy visits every wired trap
That scars the turf; and from the pit-falls takes
The timid migrants, who from distant wilds,
Warrens, and stone quarries, are destined thus

To lose their short existence. But unsought
By Luxury yet, the Shepherd still protects
The social bird, who from his native haunts
Of willowy current, or the rushy pool,
Follows the fleecy croud, and flirts and skims,
In fellowship among them.
Where the knoll
More elevated takes the changeful winds,
The windmill rears its vanes; and thitherward
With his white load, the master travelling,
Scares the rooks rising slow on whispering wings,
While o'er his head, before the summer sun
Lights up the blue expanse, heard more than seen,
The lark sings matins; and above the clouds
Floating, embathes his spotted breast in dew.

Beneath the shadow of a gnarled thorn,
Bent by the sea blast, from a seat of turf
With fairy nosegays strewn, how wide the view !
Till in the distant north it melts away,
And mingles indiscriminate with clouds:
But if the eye could reach so far, the mart
Of England's capital, its domes and spires
Might be perceived­Yet hence the distant range
Of Kentish hills, appear in purple haze;
And nearer, undulate the wooded heights,
And airy summits, that above the mole
Rise in green beauty; and the beacon'd ridge
Of Black-down shagg'd with heath, and swelling rude
Like a dark island from the vale; its brow
Catching the last rays of the evening sun
That gleam between the nearer park's old oaks,

Then lighten up the river, and make prominent
The portal, and the ruin'd battlements
Of that dismantled fortress; rais'd what time
The Conqueror's successors fiercely fought,
Tearing with civil feuds the desolate land.
But now a tiller of the soil dwells there,
And of the turret's loop'd and rafter'd halls
Has made an humbler homestead­Where he sees,
Instead of armed foemen, herds that graze
Along his yellow meadows; or his flocks
At evening from the upland driv'n to fold­
In such a castellated mansion once
A stranger chose his home; and where hard by
In rude disorder fallen, and hid with brushwood
Lay fragments gray of towers and buttresses,

Among the ruins, often he would muse­
His rustic meal soon ended, he was wont
To wander forth, listening the evening sounds
Of rushing milldam, or the distant team,
Or night-jar, chasing fern-flies: the tir'd hind
Pass'd him at nightfall, wondering he should sit
On the hill top so late: they from the coast
Who sought bye paths with their clandestine load,
Saw with suspicious doubt, the lonely man
Cross on their way: but village maidens thought
His senses injur'd; and with pity say
That he, poor youth ! must have been cross'd in love­
For often, stretch'd upon the mountain turf
With folded arms, and eyes intently fix'd
Where ancient elms and firs obscured a grange,
Some little space within the vale below,

They heard him, as complaining of his fate,
And to the murmuring wind, of cold neglect
And baffled hope he told.­The peasant girls
These plaintive sounds remember, and even now
Among them may be heard the stranger's songs.
Were I a Shepherd on the hill
And ever as the mists withdrew
Could see the willows of the rill
Shading the footway to the mill
Where once I walk'd with you­

And as away Night's shadows sail,
And sounds of birds and brooks arise,
Believe, that from the woody vale
I hear your voice upon the gale
In soothing melodies;
And viewing from the Alpine height,
The prospect dress'd in hues of air,
Could say, while transient colours bright
Touch'd the fair scene with dewy light,
'Tis, that her eyes are there !
I think, I could endure my lot
And linger on a few short years,
And then, by all but you forgot,
Sleep, where the turf that clothes the spot
May claim some pitying tears.

For 'tis not easy to forget
One, who thro' life has lov'd you still,
And you, however late, might yet
With sighs to Memory giv'n, regret
The Shepherd of the Hill.
Yet otherwhile it seem'd as if young Hope
Her flattering pencil gave to Fancy's hand,
And in his wanderings, rear'd to sooth his soul
Ideal bowers of pleasure­Then, of Solitude
And of his hermit life, still more enamour'd,
His home was in the forest; and wild fruits

And bread sustain'd him. There in early spring
The Barkmen found him, e'er the sun arose;
There at their daily toil, the Wedgecutters
Beheld him thro' the distant thicket move.
The shaggy dog following the truffle hunter,
Bark'd at the loiterer; and perchance at night
Belated villagers from fair or wake,
While the fresh night-wind let the moonbeams in
Between the swaying boughs, just saw him pass,
And then in silence, gliding like a ghost
He vanish'd ! Lost among the deepening gloom.­
But near one ancient tree, whose wreathed roots
Form'd a rude couch, love-songs and scatter'd rhymes,
Unfinish'd sentences, or half erased,
And rhapsodies like this, were sometimes found­
­­­­­­

Let us to woodland wilds repair
While yet the glittering night-dews seem
To wait the freshly-breathing air,
Precursive of the morning beam,
That rising with advancing day,
Scatters the silver drops away.
An elm, uprooted by the storm,
The trunk with mosses gray and green,
Shall make for us a rustic form,
Where lighter grows the forest scene;
And far among the bowery shades,
Are ferny lawns and grassy glades.

Retiring May to lovely June
Her latest garland now resigns;
The banks with cuckoo-flowers are strewn,
The woodwalks blue with columbines,
And with its reeds, the wandering stream
Reflects the flag-flower's golden gleam.
There, feathering down the turf to meet,
Their shadowy arms the beeches spread,
While high above our sylvan seat,
Lifts the light ash its airy head;
And later leaved, the oaks between
Extend their bows of vernal green.

The slender birch its paper rind
Seems offering to divided love,
And shuddering even without a wind
Aspins, their paler foliage move,
As if some spirit of the air
Breath'd a low sigh in passing there.
The Squirrel in his frolic mood,
Will fearless bound among the boughs;
Yaffils laugh loudly thro' the wood,
And murmuring ring-doves tell their vows;
While we, as sweetest woodscents rise,
Listen to woodland melodies.

And I'll contrive a sylvan room
Against the time of summer heat,
Where leaves, inwoven in Nature's loom,
Shall canopy our green retreat;
And gales that 'close the eye of day'
Shall linger, e'er they die away.
And when a sear and sallow hue
From early frost the bower receives,
I'll dress the sand rock cave for you,
And strew the floor with heath and leaves,
That you, against the autumnal air
May find securer shelter there.

The Nightingale will then have ceas'd
To sing her moonlight serenade;
But the gay bird with blushing breast,
And Woodlarks still will haunt the shade,
And by the borders of the spring
Reed-wrens will yet be carolling.
The forest hermit's lonely cave
None but such soothing sounds shall reach,
Or hardly heard, the distant wave
Slow breaking on the stony beach;
Or winds, that now sigh soft and low,
Now make wild music as they blow.

And then, before the chilling North
The tawny foliage falling light,
Seems, as it flits along the earth,
The footfall of the busy Sprite,
Who wrapt in pale autumnal gloom,
Calls up the mist-born Mushroom.
Oh ! could I hear your soft voice there,
And see you in the forest green
All beauteous as you are, more fair
You'ld look, amid the sylvan scene,
And in a wood-girl's simple guise,
Be still more lovely in mine eyes.

Ye phantoms of unreal delight,
Visions of fond delirium born !
Rise not on my deluded sight,
Then leave me drooping and forlorn
To know, such bliss can never be,
Unless loved like me.
The visionary, nursing dreams like these,
Is not indeed unhappy. Summer woods
Wave over him, and whisper as they wave,
Some future blessings he may yet enjoy.
And as above him sail the silver clouds,
He follows them in thought to distant climes,
Where, far from the cold policy of this,

Dividing him from her he fondly loves,
He, in some island of the southern sea,
May haply build his cane-constructed bower
Beneath the bread-fruit, or aspiring palm,
With long green foliage rippling in the gale.
Oh ! let him cherish his ideal bliss­
For what is life, when Hope has ceas'd to strew
Her fragile flowers along its thorny way ?
And sad and gloomy are his days, who lives
Of Hope abandon'd !
Just beneath the rock
Where Beachy overpeers the channel wave,
Within a cavern mined by wintry tides
Dwelt one, who long disgusted with the world
And all its ways, appear'd to suffer life

Rather than live; the soul-reviving gale,
Fanning the bean-field, or the thymy heath,
Had not for many summers breathed on him;
And nothing mark'd to him the season's change,
Save that more gently rose the placid sea,
And that the birds which winter on the coast
Gave place to other migrants; save that the fog,
Hovering no more above the beetling cliffs
Betray'd not then the little careless sheep
On the brink grazing, while their headlong fall
Near the lone Hermit's flint-surrounded home,
Claim'd unavailing pity; for his heart
Was feelingly alive to all that breath'd;
And outraged as he was, in sanguine youth,
By human crimes, he still acutely felt
For human misery.

Wandering on the beach,
He learn'd to augur from the clouds of heaven,
And from the changing colours of the sea,
And sullen murmurs of the hollow cliffs,
Or the dark porpoises, that near the shore
Gambol'd and sported on the level brine
When tempests were approaching: then at night
He listen'd to the wind; and as it drove
The billows with o'erwhelming vehemence
He, starting from his rugged couch, went forth
And hazarding a life, too valueless,
He waded thro' the waves, with plank or pole
Towards where the mariner in conflict dread
Was buffeting for life the roaring surge;
And now just seen, now lost in foaming gulphs,
The dismal gleaming of the clouded moon

Shew'd the dire peril. Often he had snatch'd
From the wild billows, some unhappy man
Who liv'd to bless the hermit of the rocks.
But if his generous cares were all in vain,
And with slow swell the tide of morning bore
Some blue swol'n cor'se to land; the pale recluse
Dug in the chalk a sepulchre­above
Where the dank sea-wrack mark'd the utmost tide,
And with his prayers perform'd the obsequies
For the poor helpless stranger.
One dark night
The equinoctial wind blew south by west,
Fierce on the shore; ­the bellowing cliffs were shook
Even to their stony base, and fragments fell
Flashing and thundering on the angry flood.

At day-break, anxious for the lonely man,
His cave the mountain shepherds visited,
Tho' sand and banks of weeds had choak'd their way­
He was not in it; but his drowned cor'se
By the waves wafted, near his former home
Receiv'd the rites of burial. Those who read
Chisel'd within the rock, these mournful lines,
Memorials of his sufferings, did not grieve,
That dying in the cause of charity
His spirit, from its earthly bondage freed,
Had to some better region fled for ever.

Charlotte Smith

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