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[WRITTEN at Grasmere. These yew-trees are still standing, but
the spread of that at Lorton is much diminished by mutilation. I will here mention that a little way up the hill, on the road leading from Rosthwaite to Stonethwaite (in Borrowdale), lay the trunk of a yew-tree, which appeared as you approached, so vast was its diameter, like the entrance of a cave, and not a small one. Calculating upon what I have observed of the slow growth of this tree in rocky situations, and of its durability, I have often thought that the one I am describing must have been as old as the Christian era. The tree lay in the line of a fence. Great masses of its ruins were strewn about, and some bad been rolled down the hill-side and lay near the road at the bottom. As you approached the tree, you were struck with the number of shrubs and young plants, ashes, &c., which had found a bed upon the decayed trunk and grew to no inconsiderable height, forming, as it were, a part yf the hedgerow. In no part of England, or of Europe, have I ever seen a yew-tree at all approaching this in magnitude, as it must have stood. By the bye, Hutton, the old Guide, of Keswick, had been so impressed with the remains of this tree, that he used gravely to tell strangers that there could be no doubt of its having been in existence before the flood.]
THERE is a Yew-tree, pride of Lorton Vale,
This solitary Tree! a living thing
(WRITTEN in Germany; intended as part of a poem on my own
life, but struck out as not being wanted there. Like most of my schoolfellows I was an impassioned nutter. For this pleasure, the vale of Esthwaite, abounding in coppice-wood, furnished a very wide range. These verses arose out of the remembrance of feelings I had often had when a boy, and particularly in the extensive woods that still stretch from the side of Esthwaite Lake towards Graythwaite, the seat of the ancient family of Sandys.]
It seems a day (I speak of one from many singled out) One of those heavenly days that cannot die; When, in the eagerness of boyish hope, I left our cottage-threshold, sallying forth With a huge wallet o'er my shoulders slung, A nutting-crook in hand; and turned my steps Tow'rd some far-distant wood, a Figure quaint, Tricked out in proud disguise of cast-off weeds Which for that service had been husbanded, By exhortation of my frugal Dame Motley accoutrement, of power to smile At thorns, and brakes, and brambles,-and, in truth, More raggèd than need was! O'er pathless rocks, Through beds of matted fern, and tangled thickets, Forcing my way, I came to one dear nook Unvisited, where not a broken bough Drooped with its withered leaves, ungracious sign Of devastation; but the hazels rose
Tall and erect, with tempting clusters hung,
-or beneath the trees I sate
my cheek on one of those green stones
rose, And dragged to earth both branch and bough, with
I felt a sense of pain when I beheld
THE SIMPLON PASS.
BROOK and road Were fellow-travellers in this gloomy Pass, And with them did we journey several hours At a slow step. The immeasurable height Of woods decaying, never to be decayed, The stationary blasts of waterfalls, And in the narrow rent, at every turn, Winds thwarting winds bewildered and forlorn, The torrents shooting from the clear blue sky, The rocks that muttered close upon our ears, Black drizzling crags that spake by the wayside As if a voice were in them, the sick sight And giddy prospect of the raving stream, The unfettered clouds and region of the heavens, Tumult and peace, the darkness and the lightWere all like workings of one mind, the features Of the same face, blossoms upon one tree, Characters of the great Apocalypse, The types and symbols of Eternity, Of first, and last, and midst, and without end.