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And now the Conqueror essays
The long ascent of Dunmail-raise;
And with his Team is gentle here
As when he clomb from Rydal Mere;
His whip they do not dread - his voice
They only hear it to rejoice.
To stand or go is at their pleasure;
Their efforts and their time they measure
By generous pride within the breast;
And, while they strain, and while they rest,
He thus pursues his thoughts at leisure.
Now am I fairly safe to-night
And never was my heart more light.
I trespassed lately worse than ever
But Heaven will bless a good endeavour;
And, to my soul's delight I find
The evil One is left behind.
Yes, let my master fume and fret,
Here am I with
My jolly Team, he finds that ye
Will work for nobody but me!
Good proof of this the Country gained,
One day, when ye were vexed and strained
Entrusted to another's care,
And forced unworthy stripes to bear.
Here was it on this rugged spot
Which now, contented with our lot,
We climb that, piteously abused,
Ye plunged in anger and confused:
As chance would have it, passing by
I saw you in your jeopardy:
A word from me was like a charm
The ranks were taken with one mind;
And your huge burthen, safe from harm,
Moved like a vessel in the wind!
Yes, without me, up hills so high
'Tis vain to strive for mastery.
Then grieve not, jolly Team! though tough
The road we travel, steep and rough.
Though Rydal heights and Dunmail-raise,
And all their fellow Banks and Braes,
Full often make you stretch and strain,
And halt for breath and halt again,
Yet to their sturdiness 'tis owing
That side by side we still are going!
While Benjamin in earnest mood His meditations thus pursued,
A storm, which had been smothered long,
Was growing inwardly more strong;
And, in its struggles to get free,
Was busily employed as he.
The thunder had begun to growl —
He heard not, too intent of soul;
The air was now without a breath
He marked not that 'twas still as death.
But soon large drops upon his head
Fell with the weight of drops of lead; -
He starts—and, at the admonition,
Takes a survey of his condition.
The road is black before his eyes,
Glimmering faintly where it lies;
Black is the sky — and every hill,
Up to the sky, is blacker still;
A huge and melancholy room,
Hung round and overhung with gloom!
Save that above a single height
Is to be seen a lurid light,
•*. a streak half dead,
A burning of portentous red;
A mountain of Grasmere, the broken summit of which presents two figures, full as distinctly shaped as that of the famous Cobler, near Arracher, in Scotland.
And, near that lurid light, full well
The ASTROLOGER, sage Sydrophel,
Where at his desk and book he sits,
Puzzling on high his curious wits;
He whose domain is held in common
With no one but the ANCIENT WOMAN:
Cowering beside her rifted cell;
As if intent on magic spell;
Dread pair, that, spite of wind and weather,
Still sit upon Helm-crag together!
The ASTROLOGER was not unseen
By solitary Benjamin:
But total darkness came anon,
And he and every thing was gone.
And suddenly a ruffling breeze,
(That would have sounded through the trees
Had aught of sylvan growth been there).
Was felt throughout the region bare:
The rain rushed down the road was battered,
As with the force of billows shattered;
The horses are dismayed, nor know
Whether they should stand or go;
And Benjamin is groping near them,
Sees nothing, and can scarcely hear them.
He is astounded, wonder not,-
With such a charge in such a spot;
Astounded in the mountain gap
By peals of thunder, clap on clap!
And many a terror-striking flash;-
And somewhere, as it seems, a crash,
Among the rocks; with weight of rain,
And sullen motions long and slow,
That to a dreary distance go-
Till, breaking in upon the dying strain,
A rending o'er his head begins the 'fray again.
Meanwhile, uncertain what to do,
And oftentimes compelled to halt;
The horses cautiously pursue
Their way, without mishap or fault;
And now have reach'd that pile of stones,
Heaped over brave King Dunmail's bones ;
He who had once supreme command,
Last king of rocky Cumberland;
His bones, and those of all his Power,
Slain here in a disastrous hour!