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V.

YEW-TREES.

[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,
Which to this day stands single, in the midst
Of its own darkness, as it stood of yore;
Not loth to furnish weapons for the bands
Of Umfraville or Percy ere they marched
To Scotland's heaths; or those that crossed the sea
And drew their sounding bows at Azincour,
Perhaps at earlier Crecy, or Poictiers.
Of vast circumference and gloom profound

This solitary Tree! a living thing
Produced too slowly ever to decay ;
Of form and aspect too magnificent
To be destroyed. But worthier still of note
Are those fraternal Four of Borrowdale,
Joined in one solemn and capacious grove ;
Huge trunks! and each particular trunk a growth
Of intertwisted fibres serpentine
Up-coiling, and inveterately convolved;
Nor uninformed with Phantasy, and looks
That threaten the profane ;-a pillared shade,
Upon whose grassless floor of red-brown hue,
By sheddings from the pining umbrage tinged
Perennially-beneath whose sable roof
Of boughs, as if for festal purpose, decked
With unrejoicing berries-ghostly Shapes
May meet at noontide; Fear and trembling Hope,
Silence and Foresight; Death the Skeleton
And Time the Shadow ;-there to celebrate,
As in a natural temple scattered o'er
With altars undisturbed of mossy stone,
United worship; or in mute repose
To lie, and listen to the mountain flood
Murmuring from Glaramara's inmost caves.

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(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,
A virgin scene!-A little while I stood,
Breathing with such suppression of the heart
As joy delights in; and, with wise restraint
Voluptuous, fearless of a rival, eyed
The banquet;

-or beneath the trees I sate
Among the flowers, and with the flowers I played;
A temper known to those, who, after long
And weary expectation, have been blest
With sudden happiness beyond all hope.
Perhaps it was a bower beneath whose leaves
The violets of five seasons re-appear
And fade, unseen by any

human

eye;
Where fairy water-breaks do murmur on
For ever; and I saw the sparkling foam,
And with

my cheek on one of those green stones
That, fleeced with moss, under the shady trees,
Lay round me, scattered like a flock of sheep-
I heard the murmur and the murmuring sound,
In that sweet mood when pleasure loves to pay
Tribute to ease; and, of its joy secure,
The heart luxuriates with indifferent things,
Wasting its kindliness on stocks and stones,
And on the vacant air. Then up

I

rose, And dragged to earth both branch and bough, with

crash
And merciless ravage: and the shady nook
Of hazels, and the green and mossy bower,
Deformed and sullied, patiently gave up
Their quiet being: and, unless I now
Confound my present feelings with the past;
Ere from the mutilated bower I turned
Exulting, rich beyond the wealth of kings,

I felt a sense of pain when I beheld
The silent trees, and saw the intruding sky-
Then, dearest Maiden, move along these shades
In gentleness of heart; with gentle hand
Touch—for there is a spirit in the woods.

1799.

VII.

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.

1799.

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