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THE PET LAMB.

A PASTORAL

66

THE dew was falling fast, the stars began to blink,
I heard a voice: it said, Drink, pretty creature, drink!"
And, looking o'er the hedge, before me I espied

A snow-white mountain lamb, with a maiden at its side.

No other sheep were near, the lamb was all alone,
And by a slender cord was tethered to a stone;
With one knee on the grass did the little maiden kneel,
While to that mountain lamb she gave its evening meal.
The lamb, while from her hand he thus his supper took,
Seemed to feast with head and ears; and his tail with pleasure
shook.

"Drink, pretty creature, drink," she said in such a tone
That I almost received her heart into my own.

"Twas little Barbara Lewthwaite, a child of beauty rare!
I watched them with delight; they were a lovely pair.
Now with her empty can the maiden turned away;
But, ere ten yards were gone, her footsteps did she stay.
Towards the lamb she looked; and from that shady place
I, unobserved, could see the workings of her face:

If Nature to her tongue could measured numbers bring,
Thus, thought I, to her lamb that little maid might sing—

"What ails thee, young one? What? Why pull so at thy cord?
Is it not well with thee? Well both for bed and board?
Thy plot of grass is soft, and green as grass can be;
Rest, little young one, rest; what is't that aileth thee?

"What is it thou wouldst seek?
Thy limbs, are they not strong?
This grass is tender grass; these
And that green corn, all day, is rustling in thy ears!

What is wanting to thy heart!
And beautiful thou art:
flowers they have no peers;

"If the sun be shining hot, do but stretch thy woollen chain,
This beach is standing by, its covert thou canst gain;
For rain and mountain storms! the like thou need'st not fear-
The rain and storm are things whieh scarcely can come here.

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"Thou know'st that twice a day I have brought thee in this can Fresh water from the brook, as clear as ever ran;

And twice in the day, when the ground is wet with dew,
I bring thee draughts of milk, warm milk it is, and new.
"Thy limbs will shortly be twice as stout as they are now,
Then I'll yoke thee to my cart like a pony in the plough;
My playmate thou shalt be; and when the wind is cold
Our hearth shall be thy bed, our house shall be thy fold.
"It will not, will not rest!-poor creature, can it be
That 'tis thy mother's heart which is working so in thee?
Things that I know not of belike to thee are dear,

And dreams of things which thou canst neither see nor hear.

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Alas, the mountain-tops that look so green and fair!

I've heard of fearful winds and darkness that come there;
The little brooks that seem all pastime and all play,
When they are angry, roar like lions for their prey.
"Here thou need'st not dread the raven in the sky;
Night and day thou art safe,-our cottage is hard by.
Why bleat so after me? Why pull so at thy chain?
Sleep-and at break of day I will come to thee again!'
-As homeward through the lane I went with lazy feet,
This song to myself did I oftentimes repeat;
And it seemed, as I retraced the ballad line by line,
That but half of it was hers, and one-half of it was mine.

Again, and once again did I repeat the song;

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"Nay," said I, more than half to the damsel must belong, For she looked with such a look, and she spake with such a tone, That I almost received her heart into my own."

THE IDLE SHEPHERD-BOYS; OR, DUNGEON-GHYLL

FORCE.*

A PASTORAL.

I.

The valley rings with mirth and joy;
Among the hills the echoes play
A never, never-ending song,
To welcome in the May:

The magpie chatters with delight;

The mountain raven's youngling brood
Have left the mother and the nest;

And they go rambling east and west

In search of their own food;

Or through the glittering vapours dart

In very wantonness of heart.

Ghyll, in the dialect of Cumberland and Westmoreland, is a short, and for the most part, a steep narrow valley, with a stream running through it. Force is the word universally employed in these dialects for waterfall.

II.

Beneath a rock, upon the grass.
Two boys are sitting in the sun
It seems they have no work to do
Or that their work is done.
On pipes of sycamore they play
The fragments of a Christmas hymn;
Or with that plant which in our dale
We call stag-horn, or fox's tail,
Their rusty hats they trim:
And thus, as happy as the day,
Those shepherds wear the time away.

III.

Along the river's stony marge
The sand-lark chants a joyous song;
The thrush is busy in the wood,
And carols loud and strong.

A thousand lambs are on the rocks,
All newly born! both earth and sky
Keep jubilee; and more than all,
Those boys with their green coronal;
They never hear the cry,

That plaintive cry! which up the hill
Comes from the depth of Dungeon-Ghyll.

IV.

Said Walter, leaping from the ground,
"Down to the stump of yon old yew
We'll for our whistles run a race."
-Away the shepherds flew.

They leapt they ran-and when they came
Right opposite to Dungeon-Ghyll,
Seeing that he should loose the prize,
66 Stop!" to his comrade Walter cries-
James stopped with no good will:
Said Walter then, "your task is here,
"Twill keep you working half a year.

V.

"Now cross where I shall cross-come on,

And follow me where I shall lead "

The other took him at his word;

But did not like the deed.

It was a spot, which you may see

If ever you to Langdale go:

Into a chasm a mighty block

Hath fallen, and made a bridge of rock :

The gulf is deep below;

And in a basin black and small

Receives a lofty waterfall.

VI.

With staff in hand across the cleft

The challenger began his march;

And now,
all eyes and feet, hath gained
The middle of the arch.

When list! he hears a piteous moan-
Again!-his heart within him dies-
His pulse is stopped, his breath is lost,
He totters, pale as any ghost,
And, looking down, he spies
A lamb, that in the pool is pent
Within that black and frightful rent.

VII.

The lamb had slipped into the stream,
And safe without a bruise or wound
The cataract had borne him down

Into the gulf profound.

His dam had seen him when he fell,

She saw him down the torrent borne ;

And, while with all a mother's love
She from the lofty rocks above

Sent forth a cry forlorn,

The lamb, still swimming round and round,

Made answer to that plaintive sound.

VIII.

When he had learnt what thing it was,

That sent this rueful cry; I ween,
The boy recovered heart, and told
The sight which he had seen.

Both gladly now deferred their task;
Nor was there wanting other aid,-
A Poet, one who loves the brooks
Far better than the sages' books,
By chance had thither strayed;
And there the helpless lamb he found,
By those huge rocks encompassed round.

IX.

He drew it gently from the pool,

And brought it forth into the light:

The shepherds met him with his charge,

An unexpected sight!

Into their arms the lamb they took,

Said they, "He's neither maimed nor scarred,"

Then up the steep ascent they hied,

And placed him at his mother's side;
And gently did the Bard

Those idle shepherd-boys upbraid,

And bade them better mind their trade.

T

INFLUENCE OF NATURAL OBJECTS

IN CALLING FORTH AND STRENGTHENING THE IMAGINATION IN BOYHOOD AND EARLY YOUTH:

FROM AN UNPUBLISHED POEM.

(This Extract is reprinted from "THE FRIEND.")

WISDOM and spirit of the universe!

Thou soul, that art the eternity of thought!
And giv'st to forms and images a breath
And everlasting motion! not in vain,

By day or star-light, thus from my first dawn
Of childhood didst thou interwine for me
The passions that build up our human soul;
Not with the mean and vulgar works of man,-
But with high objects, with enduring things,
With life and nature; purifying thus
The elements of feeling and of thought,
And sanctifying by such discipline
Both pain and fear,-until we recognise
A grandeur in the beatings of the heart.
Nor was this fellowship vouchsafed to me
With stinted kindness. In November days
When vapours, rolling down the vallies, made
A lonely scene more lonesome; among woods
At noon; and mid the calm of summer nights,
When, by the margin of the trembling lake,
Beneath the gloomy hills, I homeward went
In solitude, such intercourse was mine:

"Twas mine among the fields both day and night,
And by the waters all the summer long.

And in the frosty season, when the sun
Was set, and, visible for many a mile,
The cottage windows through the twilight blazed,
I heeded not the summons:-happy time

It was indeed for all of us; for me

It was a time of rapture!-Clear and loud
The village clock tolled six-I wheeled about,
Proud and exulting like an untired horse

That cares not for its home.-All shod with steel
We hissed along the polished ice, in games
Confederate, imitative of the chase

And woodland pleasures,-the resounding horn,
The pack loud-bellowing, and the hunted hare.
So through the darkness and the cold we flew,

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