Page images

66 And, turning from her grave, I met, Beside the churchyard Yew,

A blooming Girl, whose hair was wet With points of morning dew.

"A basket on her head she bare;
Her brow was smooth and white:
To see a child so very fair,
It was a pure delight!

"No fountain from its rocky cave
E'er tripped with foot so free;
She seemed as happy as a wave
That dances on the sea.

"There came from me a sigh of pain Which I could ill confine;

I looked at her, and looked again:
And did not wish her mine."

Matthew is in his grave, yet now,
Methinks, I see him stand,
As at that moment, with a bough
Of wilding in his hand.




We talked with open heart, and tongue

Affectionate and true,

A pair of Friends, though I was young, And Matthew seventy-two.

We lay beneath a spreading oak,
Beside a mossy seat;

And from the turf a fountain broke,
And gurgled at our feet.


Now, Matthew!" said I, " let us match This water's pleasant tune

With some old Border-song, or Catch,
That suits a summer's noon;

Or of the Church-clock and the chimes
Sing here beneath the shade,
That half-mad thing of witty rhymes
Which you last April made!"

In silence Matthew lay, and eyed
The spring beneath the tree;

And thus the dear old man replied,
The gray-haired man of glee:

"Down to the vale this water steers, How merrily it goes!

"Twill murmur on a thousand years,

And flow as now it flows.

"And here, on this delightful day,
I cannot choose but think

How oft, a vigorous man, I lay
Beside this Fountain's brink.

"My eyes are dim with childish tears,

My heart is idly stirred,

For the same sound is in my ears

Which in those days I heard.

"Thus fares it still in our decay:
And yet the wiser mind

Mourns less for what age takes away
Than what it leaves behind.

"The Blackbird in the summer trees, The Lark upon the hill,

Let loose their carols when they please, Are quiet when they will.

"With Nature never do they wage
A foolish strife; they see

A happy youth, and their old age
Is beautiful and free:

"But we are pressed by heavy laws;

And often, glad no more,

We wear a face of joy, because

We have been glad of yore.

"If there be one who need bemoan

His kindred laid in earth,

The household hearts that were his own, It is the man of mirth.


My days, my Friend, are almost gone, My life has been approved,

And many love me; but by none

Am I enough beloved."

"Now both himself and me he wrongs,

The man who thus complains!
I live and sing my idle songs

Upon these happy plains,

And, Matthew, for thy Children dead I'll be a son to thee!"

At this he grasped my hand, and said, "Alas! that cannot be."

We rose up from the fountain-side
And down the smooth descent


Of the green sheep-track did we glide;
And through the wood we went;

And, ere we came to Leonard's rock,
He sang those witty rhymes

About the crazy old church clock,
And the bewildered chimes.




How richly glows the water's breast
Before us, tinged with evening hues,
While, facing thus the crimson west,
The Boat her silent course pursues!
And see how dark the backward stream!
A little moment past so smiling!
And still, perhaps, with faithless gleam,
Some other Loiterers beguiling.

Such views the youthful Bard allure;
But, heedless of the following gloom,
He deems their colours shall endure
Till peace go with him to the tomb.

[ocr errors]

And let him nurse his fond deceit,
And what if he must die in sorrow!

Who would not cherish dreams so sweet,
Though grief and pain may come to-morrow?




GLIDE gently, thus for ever glide,

O Thames! that other Bards may see
As lovely visions by thy side

As now,
O glide, fair Stream! for ever so,
Thy quiet soul on all bestowing,
Till all our minds for ever flow
As thy deep waters now are flowing.

fair River! come to me.

Vain thought!-Yet be as now thou art,
That in thy waters may be seen

The image of a poet's heart,

How bright, how solemn, how serene!

Such as did once the Poet bless,
Who murmuring here a later* ditty,
Could find no refuge from distress

But in the milder grief of pity.

* Collins's Ode on the Death of Thomson, the last written, I believe, of the poems which were published during his life-time. This Ode is also alluded to in the next stanza.

« PreviousContinue »