« PreviousContinue »
My course I stopped as soon as I espied
As a huge Stone is sometimes seen to lie
By what means it could thither come, and whence;
Like a Sea-beast crawled forth, which on a shelf
Of rock or sand reposeth, there to sun itself.
Such seemed this Man, not all alive nor dead,
As if some dire constraint of pain, or rage
A more than human weight upon his frame had cast.
Himself he propped, his body, limbs, and face,
And, still as I drew near with gentle pace,
At length, himself unsettling, he the Pond
And now such freedom as I could I took;
A gentle answer did the Old Man make,
In courteous speech which forth he slowly drew:
His words came feebly, from a feeble chest,
Yet each in solemn order followed each,
With something of a lofty utterance drest;
Choice word, and measured phrase; above the reach Of ordinary men; a stately speech;
Such as grave Livers do in Scotland use,
Religious men, who give to God and Man their dues.
He told me that he to this pond had come
From Pond to Pond he roamed, from moor to moor;
The Old Man still stood talking by my side;
But now his voice to me was like a stream
Scarce heard; nor word from word could I divide;
And the whole Body of the man did seem
Like one whom I had met with in a dream;
Or like a Man from some far region sent,
To give me human strength, and strong admonishment.
My former thoughts returned: the fear that kills;
Cold, pain, and labour, and all fleshly ills;
And mighty Poets in their misery dead.
But now, perplex'd by what the Old Man had said,
"How is it that you live, and what is it you do?"
He with a smile did then his words repeat;
While he was talking thus, the lonely place,
The Old Man's shape, and speech, all troubled me:
In my mind's I seemed to see him pace
About the weary moors continually,
Wandering about alone and silently.
While I these thoughts within myself pursued,
He, having made a pause, the same discourse renewed.
And soon with this he other matter blended,
But stately in the main; and, when he ended,
"God," said I, "be my help and stay secure;
I'll think of the Leech-gatherer on the lonely moor."