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Upon the second step of that small pile,
Surrounded by those wild unpeopled hills,
He sat, and ate his food in solitude:
And ever, scattered from his palsied hand,
That, still attempting to prevent the waste,
Was baffled still, the crumbs in little showers
Fell on the ground; and the small mountain birds,
Not venturing yet to peck their destined meal,
Approached within the length of half his staff.
Him from my childhood have I known; He was so old, he seems not older now; He travels on, a solitary Man,
So helpless in appearance, that for him
The sauntering Horseman-traveller does not throw
With careless hand his alms upon the ground,
But stops, that he may safely lodge the coin
Within the old Man's hat; nor quits him so,
But still, when he has given his horse the rein,
Watches the aged Beggar with a look
Sidelong-and half-reverted. She who tends
The Toll-gate, when in summer at her door
She turns her wheèl, if on the road she sees
The aged Beggar coming, quits her work,
And lifts the latch for him that he may pass.
The Post-boy, when his rattling wheels o'ertake
The aged Beggar in the woody lane,
Shouts to him from behind; and, if thus warned
The old Man does not change his course, the Boy
Turns with less noisy wheels to the road-side,
And passes gently by-without a curse
Upon his lips, or anger at his heart.
He travels on, a solitary Man;
has no companion. On the ground
Dis eyes are turned, and, as he moves along,
They move along the ground; and, evermore,
Instead of common and habitual sight
Of fields with rural works, of hill and dale,
And the blue sky, one little span of earth
Is all his prospect. Thus, from day to day,
Bow-bent, his eyes for ever on the ground,
He plies his weary journey; seeing still,
And seldom knowing that he sees, some straw,
Some scattered leaf, or marks which, in one track,
The nails of cart or chariot-wheel have left
Impressed on the white road,-in the same line,
At distance still the same. Poor Traveller!
His staff trails with him; scarcely do his feet
Disturb the summer dust; he is so still
In look and motion, that the cottage curs,
Ere he have passed the door, will turn away,
Weary of barking at him. Boys and Girls,
The vacant and the busy, Maids and Youths,
And Urchins newly breeched-all pass him by :
Him even the slow-paced Waggon leaves behind.
But deem not this Man useless.-Statesmen! ye Who are so restless in your wisdom, ye Who have a broom still ready in your hands To rid the world of nuisances; ye proud, Heart-swoln, while in your pride ye contemplate Your talents, power, and wisdom, deem him not A burthen of the earth! T is Nature's law That none, the meanest of created things, Of forms created the most vile and brute, The dullest or most noxious, should exist
Divorced from good-a spirit and pulse of good,
A life and soul, to every mode of being
Inseparably linked. While thus he creeps
From door to door, the Villagers in him
Behold a record which together binds
Past deeds and offices of charity,
Else unremembered, and so keeps alive
The kindly mood in hearts which lapse of years,
And that half-wisdom half-experience gives,
Make slow to feel, and by sure steps resign
To selfishness and cold oblivious cares.
Among the farms and solitary huts,
Hamlets and thinly-scattered villages,
Where'er the aged Beggar takes his rounds,
The mild necessity of use compels
To acts of love; and habit does the work
Of reason; yet prepares that after-joy
Which reason cherishes. And thus the soul,
By that sweet taste of pleasure unpursued,
Doth find itself insensibly disposed
To virtue and true goodness. Some there are,
By their good works exalted, lofty minds
And meditative, authors of delight
And happiness, which to the end of time
Will live, and spread, and kindle: even such minds
In childhood, from this solitary Being,
Or from like Wanderer, haply have received
(A thing more precious far than all that books
Or the solicitudes of love can do!)
That first mild touch of sympathy and thought,
In which they found their kindred with a world
Where want and sorrow were. The easy Man
Who sits at his own door,-and, like the pear
That overhangs his head from the green wall,
Feeds in the sunshine; the robust and young.
The prosperous and unthinking, they who live
Sheltered, and flourish in a little grove
Of their own kindred ;- all behold in him
A silent monitor, which on their minds
Must needs impress a transitory thought
Of self-congratulation, to the heart
Of each recalling his peculiar boons,
His charters and exemptions; and, perchance,
Though he to no one give the fortitude
And circumspection needful to preserve
His present blessings, and to husband up
The respite of the season, he, at least,
And 't is no vulgar service, makes them felt
Yet further.——Many, I believe, there are
Who live a life of virtuous decency,
Men who can hear the Decalogue and feel
No self-reproach; who of the moral law
Established in the land where they abide
Are strict observers; and not negligent,
In acts of love to those with whom they dwell,
Their kindred, and the children of their blood.
Praise be to such, and to their slumbers peace!
-But of the poor man ask, the abject poor;
Go, and demand of him, if there be here
In this cold abstinence from evil deeds,
And these inevitable charities,
Wherewith to satisfy the human soul?
No-Man is dear to Man; the poorest poor
Long for some moments in a weary life
When they can know and feel that they have been,
Themselves, the fathers and the dealers-out
Of some small blessings; have been kind to such
As needed kindness, for this single cause,
That we have all of us one human heart.
-Such pleasure is to one kind Being known,
My Neighbour, when with punctual care, each week
Duly as Friday comes, though pressed herself
By her own wants, she from her store of meal
Takes one unsparing handful for the scrip
Of this old Mendicant, and, from her door
Returning with exhilarated heart,
Sits by her fire, and builds her hope in heaven.
Then let him pass, a blessing on his head! And while in that vast solitude to which
The tide of things has borne him, he appears
To breathe and live but for himself alone,
Cablamed, uninjured, let him bear about
The good which the benignant law of Heaven
Has hung around him: and, while life is his,
Still let him prompt the unlettered Villagers
To tender offices and pensive thoughts.
-Then let him pass, a blessing on his head!
And, long as he can wander, let him breathe
The freshness of the valleys; let his blood
Struggle with frosty air and winter snows;
And let the chartered wind that sweeps the heath
Beat his grey locks against his withered face.
Reverence the hope whose vital anxiousness
Gives the last human interest to his heart.
May never HOUSE, misnamed of Industry,
Make him a captive! for that pent-up din,
Those life-consuming sounds that clog the air,
Be his the natural silence of old age!
Let him be free of mountain solitudes;
And have around him, whether heard or not,
The pleasant melody of woodland birds.
Few are his pleasures: if his eyes have now
Been doomed so long to settle on the earth
That not without some effort they behold
The countenance of the horizontal sun,
Rising or setting, let the light at least
Find a free entrance to their languid orbs.
And let him, where and when he will, sit down
Beneath the trees, or by the grassy bank
Of highway side, and with the little birds
Share his chance-gathered meal; and, finally,
As in the eye of Nature he has lived,
So in the eye of Nature let him die!
THE FARMER OF TILSBURY VALE.
Tis not for the unfeeling, the falsely refined,
The squeamish in taste, and the narrow of mind,
And the small critic wielding his delicate pen,
That I sing of old Adam, the pride of old men.
He dwells in the centre of London's wide Town;
His staff is a sceptre-his grey hairs a crown;
Erect as a sunflower he stands, and the streak
Of the unfaded rose still enlivens his cheek.
Mid the dews, in the sunshine of morn,-mid the joy
Of the fields, he collected that bloom, when a Boy;
For he 's not like an Old Man that leisurely goes
There fashioned that countenance, which, in spite of a About work that he knows, in a track that he knows;
That his life hath received, to the last will remain.
But often his mind is compelled to demur,
you guess that the more then his body must stir.
In the throng of the Town like a Stranger is he,
Like one whose own Country 's far over the sea;
And Nature, while through the great City he hies,
Full ten times a day takes his heart by surprise.
This gives him the fancy of one that is young,
More of soul in his face than of words on his tongue;
Like a Maiden of twenty he trembles and sighs,
And tears of fifteen will come into his eyes.
What's a tempest to him, or the dry parching heats?
Yet he watches the clouds that pass over the streets;
With a look of such earnestness often will stand,
You might think he'd twelve Reapers at work in the
Where proud Covent-garden, in desolate hours
To be a Prodigal's Favourite-then, worse truth,
A Miser's Pensioner-behold our lot!
O Man, that from thy fair and shining youth
Age might but take the things Youth needed not!
THE LAST STAGE OF AVARICE.
O Now that the genius of Bewick were mine,
And the skill which he learned on the banks of the Tyne
Then the Muses might deal with me just as they chose,
For I'd take my last leave both of verse and of prose.
What feats would I work with my magical hand!
Book-learning and books should be banished the land-
And, for hunger and thirst, and such troublesome calls,
Of snow and hoar-frost, spreads her fruit and her Every Ale-house should then have a feast on its walls.
Old Adam will smile at the pains that have made
Poor Winter look fine in such strange masquerade.
Mid coaches and chariots, a Waggon of straw,
Like a magnet, the heart of old Adam can draw;
With a thousand soft pictures his memory will teem,
And his hearing is touched with the sounds of a dream.
Up the Haymarket hill he oft whistles his way,
Thrusts his hands in the Waggon, and smells at the hay;
He thinks of the fields he so often hath mown,
And is happy as if the rich freight were his own.
But chiefly to Smithfield he loves to repair,-
If you pass by at morning, you'll meet with him there:
The breath of the Cows you may see him inhale,
And his heart all the while is in Tilsbury Vale.
Now farewell, Old Adam! when low thou art laid,
May one blade of grass spring up over thy head;
And I hope that thy grave, wheresoever it be,
Will hear the wind sigh through the leaves of a tree.
THERE is a Flower, the Lesser Celandine,
That shrinks, like many more, from cold and rain;
And, the first moment that the sun may shine,
Bright as the sun itself, 't is out again!
When hailstones have been falling, swarm on swarm,
Or blasts the green field and the trees distressed,
Oft have I seen it muffled up from harm,
In close self-shelter, like a Thing at rest.
But lately, one rough day, this Flower I passed
And recognized it, though an altered Form,
Now standing forth an offering to the Blast,
And buffeted at will by Rain and Storm.
I stopped, and said with inly-muttered voice,
« It doth not love the shower, nor seek the cold:
This neither is its courage nor its choice,
But its necessity in being old.
« The sunshine may not cheer it, nor the dew;
It cannot help itself in its decay;
Stiff in its members, withered, changed of hue.>>
And, in my spleen, I smiled that it was grey.
The Traveller would hang his wet clothes on a chair;
Let them smoke, let them burn, not a straw would he
For the Prodigal Son, Joseph's Dream and his Sheaves,
Oh, what would they be to my tale of two Thieves?
His Grandsire that age more than thirty times told;
The One, yet unbreeched, is not three birthdays old,
There are ninety good seasons of fair and foul weather
Between them, and both go a-stealing together.
With chips is the Carpenter strewing his floor?
Is a cart-load of turf at an old Woman's door!
Old Daniel his hand to the treasure will slide!
And his Grandson's as busy at work by his side.
Old Daniel begins, he stops short-and his eye,
Through the lost look of dotage, is cunning and sly.
'Tis a look which at this time is hardly his own,
But tells a plain tale of the days that are flown.
He once had a heart which was moved by the wires
Of manifold pleasures and many desires:
And what if he cherished his purse! 'T was no more
Than treading a path trod by thousands before.
'T was a path trod by thousands; but Daniel is one
Who went something farther than others have gone,
And now with old Daniel you see how it fares;
You see to what end he has brought his grey hairs.
The pair sally forth hand in hand: ere the sun
Has peered o'er the beeches, their work is begun :
And yet, into whatever sin they may fall,
This Child but half knows it, and that not at all.
They hunt through the streets with deliberate tread,
And each, in his turn, is both leader and led ;
And, wherever they carry their plots and their wiles,
Every face in the village is dimpled with smiles.
Neither checked by the rich nor the needy they roam,
The grey-headed Sire has a daughter at home,
Who will gladly repair all the damage that's done;
And three, were it asked, would be rendered for one.
Old Man! whom so oft I with pity have eyed,
I love thee, and love the sweet Boy at thy side:
Long yet mayst thou live! for a teacher we see
That lifts up the veil of our nature in thee.
TRANSLATED FROM CHIABRERA.
PERHAPS Some needful service of the State
Drew TITUS from the depth of studious bowers,
And doomed him to contend in faithless courts,
Where gold determines between right and wrong.
Yet did at length his loyalty of heart,
And his pure native genius, lead him back
To wait upon the bright and gracious Muses,
Whom he had early loved. And not in vain
Such course he held! Bologna's learned schools
Were gladdened by the Sage's voice, and hung
With fondness on those sweet Nestorian strains.
There pleasure crowned his days; and all his thoughts
A roseate fragrance breathed. 1-O human life,
That never art secure from dolorous change!
Behold a high injunction suddenly
To Arno's side conducts him, and he charmed
A Tuscan audience: but full soon was called
To the perpetual silence of the grave.
Mourn, Italy, the loss of him who stood
A Champion steadfast and invincible,
To quell the rage of literary War!
O THOU who movest onward with a mind
Intent upon thy way, pause though in haste!
'T will be no fruitless moment. I was born
Within Savona's walls, of gentle blood.
On Tiber's banks my youth was dedicate
To sacred studies; and the Roman Shepherd
Gave to my charge Urbino's numerous Flock.
Much did I watch, much laboured, nor had power
To escape from many and strange indignities;
Was smitten by the great ones of the World,
But did not fall; for virtue braves all shocks,
Upon herself resting immoveably.
Me did a kindlier fortune then invite
To serve the glorious Henry, King of France,
And in his hands I saw a high reward
Stretched out for my acceptance-but Death came.
Now, Reader, learn from this my fate-how false,
How treacherous to her promise is the World,
And trust in God-to whose eternal doom
Must bend the sceptred Potentates of Earth.
Ivi vivea giocondo e i suoi pensieri
The Translator had not skill to come nearer to his original.
THERE never breathed a man who when his life
Was closing might not of that life relate
Toils long and hard.-The Warrior will report
Of wounds, and bright swords flashing in the field,
And blast of trumpets. Ile, who hath been doomed
To bow his forehead in the courts of kings,
Will tell of fraud and never ceasing hate,
Envy and heart-inquietude, derived
From intricate cabals of treacherous friends.
I, who on Shipboard lived from earliest youth,
Could represent the countenance horrible
Of the vexed waters, and the indignant rage
Of Auster and Bootes. Forty years
Over the well-steered Galleys did I rule :-
From huge Pelorus to the Atlantic pillars
Rises no mountain to mine eyes unknown;
And the broad gulfs I traversed oft-and-oft:
Of every cloud which in the Heavens might stir
I knew the force; and hence the rough sea's pride
Availed not to my Vessel's overthrow.
What noble pomp and frequent have not I
On regal decks beheld! yet in the end
I learn that one poor moment can suffice
To equalise the lofty and the low.
We sail the sea of life-a Calm One finds,
And One a Tempest-and, the voyage o'er,
Death is the quiet haven of us all.
If more of my condition ye would know,
Savona was my birthplace, and I sprang
Of noble parents: sixty years and three
Lived Ithen yielded to a slow disease.
DESTINED to war from very infancy
Was I, Roberto Dati, and I took
In Malta the white symbol of the Cross.
Nor in life's vigorous season did I shun
Hazard or toil; among the Sands was seen
Of Libya, and not seldom, on the Banks
Of wide Hungarian Danube, 't was my lot
To hear the sanguinary trumpet sounded.
So lived I, and repined not at such fate;
This only grieves me, for it seems a wrong,
That stripped of arms I to my end am brought
On the soft down of my paternal home.
Yet haply Arno shall be spared all cause
To blush for me. Thou, loiter not nor halt
In thy appointed way, and bear in mind
Пlow fleeting and how frail is human life.