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POEMS OF THE IMAGINATION.
THERE WAS A BOY.
(WRITTEN in Germany. This is an extract from the poem on my
own poetical education. This practice of making an instrument of their own fingers is known to most boys, though some are more skilful at it than others. William Raincock Rayrigg, a fine spirited lad, took the lead of all my schoolfellows in this art.]
THERE was a Boy; ye knew him well, ye cliffs
Of jocund din! And, when there came pause
This boy was taken from his mates, and died
old. Pre-eminent in beauty is the vale Where he was born and bred: the church-yard hangs Upon a slope above the village-school; And, through that church-yard when my way has led On summer-evenings, I believe, that there A long half-hour together I have stood Mute-looking at the grave in which he lies!
TO THE CUCKOO.
[COMPOSED in the orchard, Town-end, Grasmere.]
While I am lying on the grass
Though babbling only to the Vale,
Thrice welcome, darling of the Spring !
To seek thee did I often rove
O blessèd Bird! the earth we pace
[COMPOSED on the road between Nether Stowey and Alfoxden,
extempore. I distinctly recollect the very moment when I was struck, as described, —“He looks up- the clouds are split” &c.]
-The sky is overcast With a continuous cloud of texture close, Heavy and wan, all whitened by the Moon, Which through that veil is indistinctly seen, A dull, contracted circle, yielding light So feebly spread, that not a shadow falls, Chequering the ground—from rock, plant, tree, or
tower. At length a pleasant instantaneous gleam Startles the pensive traveller while he treads His lonesome path, with unobserving eye Bent earthwards; he looks up—the clouds are split Asunder,—and above his head he sees The clear Moon, and the glory of the heavens. There, in a black-blue vault she sails along, Followed by multitudes of stars, that, small And sharp, and bright, along the dark abyss Drive as she drives : how fast they wheel away, Yet vanish not !-the wind is in the tree, But they are silent ;-still they roll along Immeasurably distant; and the vault, Built round by those white clouds, enormous clouds, Still deepens its unfathomable depth.
At length the Vision closes; and the mind,
Not a breath of air Ruffles the bosom of this leafy glen. From the brook's margin, wide around, the trees Are stedfast as the rocks; the brook itself, Old as the hills that feed it from afar, Doth rather deepen than disturb the calm Where all things else are still and motionless. And yet, even now, a little breeze, perchance Escaped from boisterous winds that rage without, Has entered, by the sturdy oaks unfelt, But to its gentle touch how sensitive Is the light ash! that, pendent from the brow Of yon dim cave, in seeming silence makes A soft eye-music of slow-waving boughs, Powerful almost as vocal harmony To stay the wanderer's steps and soothe his thoughts.