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Till sickly thoughts bewitch thine eyes, and thou
Behold'st her shadow still abiding there,
The Naiad of the mirror !
Not to thee, O wild and desert stream ! belongs this tale : Gloomy and dark art thou—the crowded firs Spire from thy shores,* and stretch across thy bed, Making thee doleful as a cavern-well : Save when the shy king-fishers build their nest On thy steep banks, no loves hast thou, wild
This be my chosen haunt-emancipate
From passion's dreams, a freeman, and alone,
I rise and trace its devious course. O lead,
Lead me to deeper shades and lonelier glooms.
Lo! stealing through the canopy of firs,
How fair the sunshine spots that mossy rock,
Isle of the river, whose disparted waves
Dart off asunder with an angry sound,
How soon to re-unite! And see! they meet,
Each in the other lost and found : and see
Placeless, as spirits, one soft water-sun
Throbbing within them, heart at once and eye!
With its soft neighbourhood of filmy clouds,
The stains and shadings of forgotten tears,
Dimness o'erswum with lustre ! Such the hour
Of deep enjoyment, following love's brief feuds ; *
And hark, the noise of a near waterfall !
I pass forth into light t-I find myself
Beneath a weeping birch (most beautiful
Of forest trees, the lady of the woods),
Hard by the brink of a tall weedy rock
That overbrows the cataract. How bursts
The landscape on my sight! Two crescent hills
Fold in behind each other, and so make
A circular vale, and land-lock’d, as might seen,
With brook and bridge, and grey stone cottages,
Half hid by rocks and fruit-trees. At my feet,
The whortle-berries are bedew'd with spray,
Dash'd upwards by the furious waterfall.
How solemnly the pendent ivy-mass
Swings in its winnow! All the air is calm.
The smoke from cottage-chimneys, tinged with light,
Rises in columns; from this house alone,
Close by the waterfall, the column slants,
And feels its ceaseless breeze. But what is this?
That cottage, with its slanting chimney-smoke,
And close beside its porch a sleeping child,
His dear head pillow'd on a sleeping dog-
One arm between its fore-legs, and the hand
Holds loosely its small handful of wild-flowers,
* How soon to reunite! They meet, they join
In deep embrace, and open to the sun
Lie calm and smooth. Such the delicious hour
Of deep enjoyment, following love's brief quarrels !
1802. f I come out into light-IV.
Unfilleted, and of unequal lengths.
A curious picture, with a master's haste
Sketch'd on a strip of pinky-silver skin,
Peel'd from the birchen bark! Divinest maid !
Yon bark her canvas, and those purple berries
Her pencil ! See, the juice is scarcely dried
On the fine skin ! She has been newly here ;
And lo ! yon patch of heath has been her couch-
The pressure still remains ! O blessed couch !
For this may'st thou flower early, and the sun,
Slanting at eve, rest bright, and linger long
Upon thy purple bells ! O Isabel !
Daughter of genius! stateliest of our maids !
More beautiful than whom Alcæus woo'd,
The Lesbian woman of immortal song !
O child of genius! stately, beautiful,
And full of love to all, save only me,
And not ungentle even to me! My heart,
Why beats it thus? Through yonder coppice-wood
Needs must the pathway turn, that leads straight-
On to her father's house. She is alone!
The night draws on—such ways are hard to hit-
And fit it is I should restore this sketch,
Dropt unawares no doubt. Why should I yearn
To keep the relique? 'twill but idly feed
The passion that consumes me. Let me haste !
The picture in my hand which she has left ;
She cannot blame me that I follow'd her:
And I may be her guide the long wood through.
FIRE, FAMINE, AND SLAUGHTER.