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A brief and unreproved farewell;
To quit the slow-paced Waggon's side,
And wander down yon hawthorn dell,
With murmuring Greta for her guide.
There doth she ken the awful form Of Raven-crag — black as a storm Glimmering through the twilight pale ; And Gimmer-crag*, his tall twin-brother, Each peering forth to meet the other :And, rambling on through St. John's Vale, Along the smooth unpathwayed plain, By sheep-track or through cottage lane, Where no disturbance comes to intrude Upon the pensive solitude,
Her unsuspecting eye, perchance,
With the rude Shepherd's favoured glance,
Beholds the Faeries in array,
Whose party-coloured garments gay
The silent company betray;
Red, green, and blue; a moment's sight!
For Skiddaw-top with rosy light
and all the band take flight.
-Fly also, Muse! and from the dell
Mount to the ridge of Nathdale Fell;
Thence, look thou forth o'er wood and lawn
Hoar with the frost-like dews of dawn;
Across yon meadowy bottom look,
Where close fogs hide their parent brook;
And see, beyond that hamlet small,
The ruined towers of Threlkeld-hall,
Lurking in a double shade,
By trees and lingering twilight made!
There, at Blencathara's rugged feet,
Sir Lancelot gave a safe retreat
To noble Clifford ; from
Concealed the persecuted Boy,
Well pleased in rustic garb to feed
His flock, and pipe on Shepherd's reed;
Among this multitude of hills,
Crags, woodlands, waterfalls, and rills;
Which soon the morning shall enfold,
From east to west, in ample vest
Of massy gloom and radiance bold.
The mists, that o'er the streamlet's bed Hung low, begin to rise and spread;
Even while I speak, their skirts of grey
Are smitten by a silver ray;
And lo!-up Castrigg's naked steep
(Where, smoothly urged, the vapours sweep
Along and scatter and divide
Like fleecy clouds self-multiplied)
The stately Waggon is ascending
With faithful Benjamin attending,
Apparent now beside his team.
Now lost amid a glittering steam.
And with him goes his Sailor Friend,
By this time near their journey's end,
And, after their high-minded riot,
Sickening into thoughtful quiet;
As if the morning's pleasant hour
Had for their joys a killing power.
They are drooping, weak, and dull ;
But the horses stretch and pull;
With increasing vigour climb,
Eager to repair lost time;
Whether, by their own desert,
Knowing that there's cause for shame,
They are labouring to avert
At least a portion of the blame,
Which full surely will alight
Upon his head, whom, in despite
Of all his faults, they love the best;
Whether for him they are distrest;
Or, by length of fasting roused,
Are impatient to be housed;
Up against the hill they strain
Tugging at the iron chain-
Tugging all with might and main
Last and foremost, every horse
To the utmost of his force!
And the smoke and respiration
Rising like an exhalation,
Blends with the mist, a moving shroud
To form an undissolving cloud;
Which, with slant ray, the merry sun
Takes delight to play upon.
Never, surely, old Apollo,
He, or other God as old,
Of whom in story we are told,
Who had a favourite to follow
Through a battle or elsewhere,
Round the object of his care,
In a time of peril, threw
Veil of such celestial hue;
Interposed so bright a screen
Him and his enemies between!
Alas, what boots it? who can hide
When the malicious Fates are bent
On working out an ill intent ?
Can destiny be turned aside?
Benjamin, this outward glory
Cannot shield thee from thy Master,
Who from Keswick has pricked forth,
Sour and surly as the north;
And, in fear of some disaster,
Comes to give what help he may,
Or to hear what thou canst say;
If, as needs he must forbode,
Thou hast loitered on the road!
The wished-for object is in sight;
his fears may now take flight.