Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

No tidings of her Husband; if he lived,
She knew not that he lived; if he were dead,
She knew not he was dead. She seemed the same
In person and appearance; but her House
Bespake a sleepy hand of negligence;
The floor was neither dry nor neat, the hearth
Was comfortless, and her small lot of books,
Which, in the Cottage window, heretofore
Had been piled up against the corner panes
In seemly order, now, with straggling leaves,
Lay scattered here and there, open or shut,
As they had chanced to fall. Her infant Babe
Had from its Mother caught the trick of grief,
And sighed among its playthings. Once again
I turned towards the garden gate, and saw
More plainly still, that poverty and grief
Were now come nearer to her: weeds defaced
The hardened soil, and knots of withered grass :
No ridges there appeared of clear black mould,
No winter greenness; of her herbs and flowers,
It seemed the better part were gnawed away
Or trampled into earth; a chain of straw
Which had been twined about the slender stem
Of a young apple-tree, lay at its root;
The bark was nibbled round by truant Sheep.

-- Margaret stood near, her Infant in her arms,
And, noting that my eye was on the tree,
She said, “I fear it will be dead and gone
Ere Robert come again. Towards the House
Together we returned; and she inquired
If I had any hope. But for her Babe,
And for her little orphan Boy, she said,
She had no wish to live that she must die
Of sorrow! Yet I saw the idle loom
Still in its place; his Sunday garments hung

Upon the self-same nail; his very staff
Stood undisturbed behind the door. And when,
In bleak December, I retraced this way,
She told me that her little Babe was dead,
And she was left alone. She now, released
From her maternal cares, had taken up
The employment common through these Wilds, and

gained,
By spinning hemp, a pittance for herself;
And for this end had hired a neighbor's Boy
To give her needful help. That very time
Most willingly she put her work aside,
And walked with me along the miry road,
Heedless how far; and in such piteous sort
That any heart had ached to hear her, begged
That, wheresoe'er I went, I still would ask
For him whom she had lost. We parted then-
Our final parting : for, from that time forth,
Did many seasons pass ere I returned
Into this tract again.

6 Nine tedious years; From their first separation, nine long years ; She lingered in unquiet widowhood; A Wife and Widow. Needs must it have been A sore heart-wasting! I have heard, my Friend, That in yon arbor oftentimes she sate Alone, through half the vacant Sabbath day, And, if a dog påssed by, she still would quit The shade, and look abroad. On this old Berich For hours she sate; and evermore her eye Was busy in the distance, shaping things That made her heart beat quick. You see that path Now faint — the grass has crept o'er its gray line ; There, to and fro, she pacad through many a day

[ocr errors]

Of the warm summer, from a belt of hemp
That girt her waist, spinning the long-drawn thread
With backward steps. Yet ever as there passed
A man whose garments showed the soldier's red,
Or crippled Mendicant in Sailor's garb,
The little Child who sate to turn the wheel
Ceased from his task; and she with faltering voice
Made rnany a fond inquiry; and when they,
Whose presence gave no comfort, were gone by,
Her heart was still more sad. And by yon gate,
That bars the Traveller's road, she often stood,
And when a stranger Horseman came, the latch
Would lift, and in his face look wistfully;
Most happy if, from aught discovered there
Of tender feeling, she might dare repeat
The same sad question. Meanwhile her poor Hut
Sank to decay: for he was gone whose hand,
At the first nipping of October frost,
Closed up each chink, and with fresh bands of straw
Chequered the green-grown thatch. And so she lived
Through the long winter, reckless and alone;
Until her House by frost, and thaw, and rain.
Was sapped; and while she slept, the nightly damps
Did chill her breast; and in the stormy day
Her tattered clothes were ruffled by the wind,
Even at the side of her own fire. Yet still
She loved this wretched spot, nor would for worlds
Have parted hence: and still that length of road,
And this rude bench, one torturing hope endeared,
Fast rooted at her heart: and here, my Friend,
In sickness she remained; and here she died,
Last human tenant of these ruined Walls."

The Old Man ceased: he saw that I was moved.
From that low Bench, rising instinctively,

[ turned aside in weakness, nor had power
To thank him for the Tale which he had told.
I stood, and leaning o'er the Garden wall,
Reviewed that Woman's sufferings; and it seemed
To comfort me while with a Brother's love
I blessed her in the impotence of grief.
At length towards the Cottage I returned
Fondly, -- and traced, with interest more mild,
That secret spirit of humanity
Which, 'mid the calm, oblivious tendencies
Of nature, 'mid her plants, and weeds, and flowers,
And silent overgrowings, still survived.
The Old Man, noting this, resumed, and said,
“My Friend! enough to sorrow you have given;
The purposes of wisdom ask no more :
Be wise and cheerful; and no longer read
The forms of things with an unworthy eye.
She sleeps in the calm earth, and peace is here.
I well remember that those very plumes,
Those weeds, and the high spear-grass on that wall;
By mist and silent rain-drops silvered o'er,
As once I passed, did to my heart convey
So still an image of tranquillity,
So calm and still, and looked so beautiful
Amid the uneasy thoughts which filled my mind,
That what we feel of sorrow and despair,
From ruin and from change, and all the grief
The passing shows of Being leave behind,
Appeared an idle dream, that could not live
Where meditation was.

I turned away,
And walked along my road in happiness."

He ceased. Ere long the sun declining shot
A slant and mellow radiance, which began
To fall upon us while beneath the trees

We sate on that low Bench; and now we felt,
Admonished thus, the sweet hour coming on.
A linnet warbled from those lofty elms,
A thrush sang loud, and other melodies,
At distance heard, peopled the milder air.
The Old Man rose, and, with a sprightly mien
Of hopeful preparation, grasped his Staff:
Together casting then a farewell look
Upon those silent walls, we left the Shade;
And, ere the stars were visible, had reached
A Village Inn- our Evening resting-place.

« AnteriorContinuar »