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The pony, Betty, and her boy,
A PASTORAL POEM.
If from the public way you turn your steps:
You will suppose that with an upright path And many dreadful fears beset her,
Your feet must struggle; in such bold ascent Both for her messenger and nurse; And as her mind grew worse and worse,
The pastoral mountains front you, face to face.
(brook Her body it grew better.
But, courage! for around that boisterous
The mountains have all opened out themShe turned, she tossed herself in bed,
selves, On all sides doubts and terrors met her;
And made a hidden valley of their own. Point after point did she discuss;
No habitation can be seen but they And while her mind was fighting thus,
Who journey thither find themselves alone Her body still grew better.
With a few sheep, with rocks and stones,
and kites "Alas! what is become of them?
That overhead are sailing in the sky. These fears can never be endured,
It is in truth an utter solitude; I'll to the wood."-The word scarce said, Nor should I have made mention of this dell Did Susan rise up from her bed,
But for one object which you might pass by, As if by magic cured.
Might see and notice not. Beside the brook
Appears a straggling heap of unhewn stones! Away she posts uphill and down,
And to that place a story appertains, And to the wood at length is come;
Which, though it be ungarnished with, She spies her friends, she shouts a greeting: Is not unfit, i deem, for the fireside,
Or for the summer shade. It was the first
Of shepherds, dwellers in the valleys, men
hills And with the owls began my song, Where was their occupation and abode. And with the owls must end.
And hence this tale, while I was yet a boy
Careless of books, yet having felt the power For while they all were travelling home,
Of nature, by the gentle agency Cried Betty, "Tell uş, Johnny, do,
Of natural objects led me on to feel
On man, the heart of man, and human life.
Homely and rude, I will relate the same
For the delight of a few natural hearts;
And, with yet fonder feeling, for the sake No doubt too he the moon had seen;
Of youthful poets, who among these hills For in the moonlight he had been
will be my second self when I am gone. From eight o'clock till five.
Upon the forest-side in Grasmere Vale And thus, to Betty's question, he
There dwelt a shepherd, Michael was his Made answer, like a traveller bold,
(limb. (His very words I give to you,)
An old man, stout of heart, and strong of "The cocks did crow to-whoo, to-whoo, His bodily frame had been from youth to age And the sun did shine so cold."
Of an unusual strength: his mind was keen, Thus answered Johnny in his glory, Intense, and frugal, apt for all affairs, And that was all his travel's story. And in his shepherd's calling he was prompt And watchful more than ordinary men. With two brave sheep-dogs tried in many a Hence had he learned the meaning of all storm, winds,
The one of an inestimable worth, Of blasts of every tone; and, oftentimes, Made all their household. I may truly say, When others heeded not, he heard the south That they were as a proverb in the vale Make subterraneous music, like the noise For endless industry. When day was gone, Of bagpipers on distant Highland hills. And from their occupations out of doors The shepherd, at such warning, of his flock The son and father were come home, even Bethought him, and he to himself would say, then, "The winds are now devising work for me!" Their labour did not cease; unless when all And, truly, at all times, the storm-that Turned to their cleanly supper-board, and drives
(milk, The traveller to a shelter-summoned him Each with a mess of pottage and skimmed Up to the mountains: he had been alone Sat round their basket piled with oaten Amid the heart of many thousand mists, cakes,
(when their meal That came to him and left him on the heights. And their plain home-made cheese. Yet So lived he till his eightieth year was past. Was ended, Luke (forso the son was named) And grossly that man errs, who should sup- And his old father both betook themselves pose
[rocks, To such convenient work as might employ That the green valleys, and the streams and Their hands by the fire-side; perhaps to card Were things indifferent to the shepherd's Wool for the housewife's spindle, or repair thoughts.
[breathed Some injury done to sickle, flail, or scythe, Fields, where with cheerful spirits he had or other implement of house or field. The common air; the hills, which he so oft Had climbed with vigorous steps; which Down from the ceiling by the chimney's had impressed
edge So many incidents upon his mind
That in our ancient uncouth country style Of hardship, skill or courage, joy or fear; Did with a huge projection overbrow Which like a book preserved the memory Large space beneath, as duly as the light Of the dumb animals, whom he had saved, Of day grew dim the housewife hunga lamp; Had fed or sheltered, linking to such acts, An aged utensil, which had performed So grateful in themselves, the certainty Service beyond all others of its kind. Of honourable gain; these fields, these hills, Early at evening did it burn and late, Which were his living being, even more Surviving comrade of uncounted hours, Than his own blood—what could they less? Which going by from year to year had found had laid
And left the couple neither gay perhaps Strong hold on his affections, were to him Nor cheerful, yet with objects and with A pleasurable feeling of blind love,
Living a life of eager industry. (hopes, The pleasure which there is in life itself. And now, when Luke had reached his
eighteenth year His days had not been passed in single-There by the light of this old lamp they sat,
Father and son, while late into the night His helpmate was a comely matron, old-The housewife plied her own peculiar work, 'Though younger than himself full twenty Making the cottage through the silent hours years.
Murmur as with the sound of summer flies. She was a woman of a stirring life, This light was famous in its neighbourhood, Whose heart was in her house: two wheels And was a public symbol of the life she had
(wool, The thrifty pair had lived. For, as it chanced, Of antique form, this large for spinning Their cottage on a plot of rising ground That small for flax; and if one wheel had Stood single, with large prospect, north rest,
and south, It was because the other was at work. High into Easedale, up to Dunmail-Raise, The pair had but one inmate in their house, and westward to the village near the lake; An only child, who had been born to them And from this constant light, so regular When Michael, telling o'er his years, began And so far seen, the house itself, by all To deem that he was old,– in shepherd's Who dwelt within the limits of the vale, phrase,
Both old and young, was named THE With one foot in the grave. This only son, EVENING STAR.
Thus living on through such a length of With iron, making it throughou. in all years,
(needs Due requisites a perfect shepherd's staff, The shepherd, if he loved himself, must And gave it to the boy; wherewith equipt Have loved his helpmate; but to Michael's He as a watchman oftentimes was placed heart
At gate or gap, to stem or turn the flock; This son of his old age was yet more dear-And, to his office prematurely called, Less from instinctive tenderness, the same There stood the urchin, as you will divine, Blind spirit, which is in the blood of all - Something between a hindrance and a Than that a child, more than all other gifts, help; Brings hope with it, and forward looking And for this course not always, I believe, thoughts,
Receiving from his father hire of praise; And stirrings of inquietude, when they Though nought was left undone which By tendency of nature needs must fail.
staff or voice,
(perform. Exceeding was the love he bare to him, Cr looks, or threatening gestures could His heart and his heart's joy! For oftentimes
But soon as Luke, full ten years old, could Old Michael, while he was a babe in arms, stand
heights, Had done him female service, not alone Against the mountain blasts; and to the For pastime and delight, as is the use Not fearing toil, nor length of weary ways, Of fathers, but with patient mind enforced He with his father daily went, and they To acts of tenderness; and he had rocked Were as companions, why should I relate His cradle with a woman's gentle hand. That objects which the shepherd loved
(came And, in a later time, ere yet the boy Were dearer now? that from the boy there Had put on boy's attire, did Michael love, Feelings and emanations—things which Albeit of a stern unbending mind, To have the young one in his sight, when Light to the sun and music to the wind; he
And that the old man's heart seemed born Had work by his own door, or when he sat again. With sheep before him on his shepherd's Thus in his father's sight the boy grew up; stool,
(door And now when he had reached his eigh. Beneath that large old oak, which near their
teenth year, Stood,--and, from its enormous breadth of He was his comfort and his daily hope.
shade, Chosen for the shearer's covert from the sun, While in this sort the simple household Thence in our rustic dialect was called
(came The CLIPPING TREE,* a name which yet it From day to day, to Michael's ear there bears.
[shade, Distressful tidings. Long before the time There, while they two were sitting in the Of which I speak, the shepherd had been With others round them, earnest all and bound blithe,
In surety for his brother's son, a man Would Michael exercise his heart with looks of an industrious life, and ample meansOr fond correction and reproof bestowed But unforeseen misfortunes suddenly Upon the child, if he disturbed the sheep Had prest upon him, -and old Michael By catching at their legs, or with his shouts
(ture, Scared them, while they lay still beneath Was summoned to discharge the forfei. the shears.
A grievous penalty, but little less
Than half his substance. This unlooked And when by Heaven's good grace the
for claim boy grew up
At the first hearing, for a moment took A healthy lad, and carried in his cheek More hope out of his life than he supposed Two steady roses that were five years old, That any old man ever could have lost. Then Michael from a winter coppice cut As soon as he had gathered so much With his own hand a sapling, which he strength hooped
That he could look his trouble in the face.
It seemed that his sole refuge was to sell Clipping is the word used in the North of a portion of his patrimonial fields. England for shearing.
Such was his first resolve; he thought again,
And his heart failed him.“ Isabel," said he, And thus resumed :-"Well, Isabel ! this Two evenings after he had heard the news, scheme "I have been toiling more than seventy These two days has been meat and drink years,
to me. And in the open sunshine of God's love Far more than we have lost is left us yet. Have we all lived; yet if these fields of ours We have enough-I wish indeed that I Should pass into a stranger's hand, I think Were younger,—but this hope is a good That I could not lie quiet in my grave.
(best Our lot is a hard lot; the sun himself Make ready Luke's best garments, of the Has scarcely been more diligent than I; Buy for him more, and let us send him And I have lived to be a fool at last
forth To my own family. An evil man To-morrow, or the next day, or to-night: That was, and made an evil choice, if he If he could go, the boy should go toWere false to us; and if he were not false, night."
(forth There are ten thousand to whom loss like this Here Michael ceased, and to the fields went Had been no sorrow. I forgive him—but With a light heart. The housewife for five "Twere better to be dumb than to talk thus. days
[long When I began, my purpose was to speak Was restless morn and night, and all day Of remedies and of a cheerful hope. Wrought on with her best fingers to preOur Luke shall leave us, Isabel; the land pare Shall not go from us, and it shall be free; Things needful for the journey of her son He shall possess it free as is the wind But Isabel was glad when Sunday came That passes over it. We have, thou know-To stop her in her work : for, when she lay est,
By Michael's side, she through the two last Another kinsman-he will be our friend nights
(sleep: In this distress. He is a prosperous man, Heard him, how he was troubled in his Thriving in trade-and Luke to him shall And when they rose at morning she could go, (thrist
[noon And with his kinsman's help and his own That all his hopes were gone. That day at He quickly will repair this loss, and then She said to Luke, while they two by themMay come again to us. If here he stay, selves
[go: What can be done? Where every one is Were sitting at the door, "Thou must not poor,
(paused, We have no other child but thee to lose, What can be gained ?" At this the old man None to remember-do not go away, And Isabel sat silent, for her mind
For if thou leave thy father he will die." Was busy, looking back into past times. The youth made answer with a jocund There's Richard Bateman, thought she to voice ; herself,
And Isabel, when she had told her fears, He was a parish-boy—at the church-door Recovered heart. That evening her best They made a gathering for him, shillings, fare pence.
[bought Did she bring forth, and all together sat And halfpennies, wherewith the neighbours Like happy people round a Christmas fire. A basket, which they filled with pedlar's wares;
With daylight Isabel resumed her work; And with this basket on his arm, the lad, And all the ensuing week the house apWent up to London, found a master there, peared Who out of many chose the trusty boy As cheerful as a grove in spring : at length To go and overlook his merchandise The expected letter from their kinsman Beyond the seas : where he grew wondrous rich,
With kind assurances that he would do And left estates and moneys to the poor, His utmost for the welfare of the boy: And at his birthplace built a chapel floored To which, requests were added, that forthWith marble, which he sent from foreign with
(sort, He might be sent to him. Ten times or These thoughts, and many others of like The letter was read over ; Isabel Passed quickly through the mind of Isabel Went forth to show it to the neighbours And her face brightened. The old man round; was glad,
Nor was there at that time on English land
A prouder heart than Luke's. When Isabel | Lack any pleasure which a boy can know." Had to her house returned, the old man Luke had a manly heart; but at these said, (word words
[his hand, “He shall depart to-morrow." To this He sobbed aloud. The old man grasped The housewife answered, talking much of And said, “ Nay, do not take it so—I see things
That these are things of which I need not Which, if at such short notice he should go, speak. Would surely be forgotten. But at length Even to the utmost I have been to thes She gave consent, and Michael was at A kind and a good father : and here.n
I but repay a gift which I myself
Received at others' hands; for, though now Near the tumultuous brook of Green- old head Ghyll,
Beyond the common life of man, I still In that deep valley, Michael had designed Remember them who, loved me in my To build a sheep-fold ; and, before he youth. beard
Both of them sleep together: here they lived The tidings of his melancholy loss, As all their forefathers had done ; and when For this same purpose he had gathered up At length their time was come, they were A heap of stones, which by the streamlet's not loath edge
To give their bodies to the family mould. Lay thrown together, ready for the work. I wished that thou shouldst live the life With Luke that evening 'thitherward he they lived. walked ;
(stopped, But 'tis a long time to look back, my son, And soon as they had reached the place he And see so little gain from threescore years. And thus the old man spake to him.-"My These fields were burthened when they son,
[heart came to me ; To-morrow thou wilt leave me: with full Till I was forty years of age, not more I look upon thee, for thou art the same Than half of my inheritance was mine. That wert a promise to me ere thy birth, I toiled and toiled ; God blessed me in my And all thy life hast been my daily joy.
(was free. I will relate to thee some little part And till these three weeks past the land Of our two histories; 'twill do thee good It looks as if it never could endure When thou art from me, even if I should Another master. Heaven forgive me, Luke, speak
(After thou If I judge ill for thee, but it seems good Of things thou canst not know of.- That thou shouldst go." At this the old First cam'st into the world-as oft befalls man paused ;
(they stood, To new-born infants-thou didst sleep Then, pointing to the stones near which away
(tongue Thus, after a short silence, he resumed : Two days, and blessings from thy father's This was a work for us ; and now, my Then feil upon thee. Day by day passed son, on,
It is a work for me. But, lay one stoneAnd still I loved thee with increasing love. Here, lay it for me, Luke, with thine own Never to living ear came sweeter sounds hands.
[live Than when I heard thee by our own fire- Nay, boy, be of good hope ;-we both may side
(tune : To see a better day. At eighty-four First uttering, without words, a natural I still am strong and hale ;-do thou thy When thou, a feeding babe, didst in thy part, joy
(lowed month, I will do mine. I will begin again Sing at thy mother's breasi. Month fol. With many tasks that were resigned to thee; And in the open fields my life was passed Up to the heights, and in among the And on the mountains, else I think that storms, thou
[knees. Will I without thee go again, and do Hadst been brought up upon thy father's All works which I was wont to do alone, But we were playmates, Luke: among Before I knew thy face.—Heaven bless these hills, (young thee, boy!
[ing fast As well thou know'st, in us the old and Thy heart these two weeks has been beatHave played together, nor with me didst With many hones-It should be so—Yesthou