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Know, if thou grudge not to prolong thy rest,
That on the summit whither thou art bound,
A geographic Labourer pitched his tent,
With books supplied and instruments of art, 15
To measure height and distance; lonely task,
Week after week pursued!—To him was given
Full many a glimpse (but sparingly bestowed
On timid man) of Nature's processes
Upon the exalted hills. He made report 20
That once, while there he plied his studious
Within that canvass Dwelling, colours, lines,
And the whole surface of the out-spread map,
Became invisible: for all around
Had darkness fallen—unthreatened, unpro-
As if the golden day itself had been
Extinguished in a moment; total gloom,
In which he sate alone, with unclosed eyes,
Upon the blinded mountain's silent top!
WRITTEN WITH A SLATE PENCIL UPON A STONE, THE LARGEST OF A HEAP LYING NEAR A DESERTED QUARRY, UPON ONE OF THE ISLANDS AT RYDAL.
Stranger! this hillock of mis-shapen stones
Is not a Ruin spared or made by time,
Nor, as perchance thou rashly deem'st, the
Of some old British Chief: 'tis nothing more
Than the rude embryo of a little Dome 5
Or Pleasure-house, once destined to be built
Among the birch-trees of this rocky isle.
But, as it chanced, Sir William having learned
That from the shore a full-grown man might
wade, And make himself a freeman of this spot 10 At any hour he chose, the prudent Knight Desisted, and the quarry and the mound Are monuments of his unfinished task. The block on which these lines are traced,
perhaps, Was once selected as the corner-stone 15
Of that intended Pile, which would have been
Some quaint odd plaything of elaborate skill,
So that, I guess, the linnet and the thrush,
And other little builders who dwell here,
Had wondered at the work. But blame him not,
For old Sir William was a gentle Knight, 21
Bred in this vale, to which he appertained
With all his ancestry. Then peace to him,
And for the outrage which he had devised
Entire forgiveness!—But if thou art one 25
On fire with thy impatience to become
An inmate of these mountains,—if, disturbed
By beautiful conceptions, thou hast hewn
Out of the quiet rock the elements
Of thy trim Mansion destined soon to blaze 30
In snow-white splendour,—think again; and,
By old Sir William and his quarry, leave
Thy fragments to the bramble and the rose;
There let the vernal slow-worm sun himself,
And let the redbreast hop from stone to stone. 35
In these fair vales hath many a Tree
At Wordsworth's suit been spared;
And from the builder's hand this Stone,
For some rude beauty of its own,
Was rescued by the Bard:
So let it rest; and time will come
When here the tender-hearted
May heave a gentle sigh for him,
As one of the departed.
The massy Ways, carried across these heights
By Boman perseverance, are destroyed,
Or hidden under ground, like sleeping worms.
How venture then to hope that Time will spare
This humble Walk? Yet on the mountain's
A Poet's hand first shaped it; and the steps
Of that same Bard—repeated to and fro
At morn, at noon, and under moonlight skies
Through the vicissitudes of many a year—
Forbade the weeds to creep o'er its grey line, io
No longer, scattering to the heedless winds
The vocal raptures of fresh poesy,
Shall he frequent these precincts; locked no
In earnest converse with beloved Friends,
Here will he gather stores of ready bliss, 15
As from the beds and borders of a garden
Choice flowers are gathered! But, if Power may
spring Out of a farewell yearning—favoured more Than kindred wishes mated suitably With vain regrets—the Exile would consign 20 This Walk, his loved possession, to the care Of those pure Minds that reverence the Muse.
INSCRIPTIONS SUPPOSED TO BE FOUND IN AND NEAR A HERMIT'S CELL.
Hopes what are they ?—Beads of morning
Strung on slender blades of grass;
Or a spider's web adorning
In a strait and treacherous pass.
What are fears but voices airy? 5
Whispering harm where harm is not;
And deluding the unwary
Till the fatal bolt is shot!
What is glory ?—in the socket
See how dying tapers fare! 10
What is pride ?—a whizzing rocket
That would emulate a star.
What is friendship ?—do not trust her,
Nor the vows which she has made;
Diamonds dart their brightest lustre 15
From a palsy-shaken head.
What is truth ?—a staff rejected;
Duty ?—an unwelcome clog;
Joy ?—a moon by fits reflected
In a swamp or watery bog; 20
Bright, as if through ether steering,
To the Traveller's eye it shone:
He hath hailed it re-appearing—
And as quickly it is gone;
Such is Joy—as quickly hidden, 25
Or mis-shapen to the sight,
And by sullen weeds forbidden
To resume its native light.
What is youth ?—a dancing billow,
(Winds behind, and rocks before!) 30
Age ?—a drooping, tottering willow
On a flat and lazy shore.
What is peace ?—when pain is oyer,
And love ceases to rebel,
Let the last faint sigh discover 35
That precedes the passing-knell!
INSCRIBED UPON A ROCK.
Pause, Traveller! whosoe'er thou be
Whom chance may lead to this retreat,
Where silence yields reluctantly
Even to the fleecy straggler's bleat;
Give voice to what my hand shall trace, 5
And fear not lest an idle sound
Of words unsuited to the place
Disturb its solitude profound.
I saw this Rock, while vernal air
Blew softly o'er the russet heath, 10
Uphold a Monument as fair
As church or abbey f urnisheth.
Unsullied did it meet the day,
Like marble, white, like ether, pure;
As if, beneath, some hero lay, 15
Honoured with costliest sepulture.