Obrázky na stránke
PDF
ePub

Yet never had she, well or sick,
As every man who knew her

says, A pile beforehand, turf or stick, Enough to warm her for three days.

Now, when the frost was past enduring,
And made her poor old bones to ache,
Could anything be more alluring
Than an old hedge to Goody Blake?
And, now and then, it must be said,
When her old bones were cold and chill,
She left her fire, or left her bed,
To seek the hedge of Harry Gill!

Now Harry he had long suspected
This trespass of old Goody Blake ;
And vowed that she should be detected, –
That he on her would vengeance take.
And oft from his warm fire he'd go,
And to the fields his road would take;
And there, at night, in frost and snow,
He watched to seize old Goody Blake.

And once, behind a rick of barley,
Thus looking out did Harry stand:
The moon was full and shining clearly,
And crisp with frost the stubble land.

He hears a noise, - he's all awake,
Again ? on tiptoe down the hill
He softly creeps, — 't is Goody Blake;
She's at the hedge of Harry Gill!

Right glad was he when he beheld her:
Stick after stick did Goody pull:
He stood behind a bush of elder,
Till she had filled her

apron

full.
When with her load she turned about,
The by-way back again to take,
He started forward with a shout,
And sprang upon poor Goody Blake.

And fiercely by the arm he took her,
And by the arm he held her fast,
And fiercely by the arm he shook her,
And cried, “ I've caught you then at last!”
Then Goody, who had nothing said,
Her bundle from her lap let fall ;
And, kneeling on the sticks, she prayed
To God that is the judge of all.

She prayed, her withered hand uprearing,
While Harry held her by the arm,
“ God! who art never out of hearing,
O may he never more be warm !”
The cold, cold moon above her head,
Thus on her knees did Goody pray:
Young Harry heard what she had said ;
And icy cold he turned away.

He went complaining all the morrow
That he was cold and

chill: His face was gloom, his heart was sorrow, Alas! that day for Harry Gill!

very

That day he wore a riding-coat,
But not a whit the warmer he:
Another was on Thursday brought,
And ere the Sabbath he had three.

'T was all in vain, a useless matter,
And blankets were about him pinned ;
Yet still his jaws and teeth they clatter,
Like a loose casement in the wind.
And Harry's flesh it fell away ;
And all who see him say 't is plain,
That, live as long as live he may,
He never will be warm again.

No word to any man he utters,
Abed or up, to young or old ;
But ever to himself he mutters,
“ Poor Harry Gill is very

cold.”
Abed or up, by night or day,
His teeth they chatter, chatter still.
Now think, ye farmers all, I pray,
Of Goody Blake and Harry Gill!

1798. XVI.

PRELUDE,

PREFIXED TO THE VOLUME ENTITLED “POEMS CHIEFLY

OF EARLY AND LATE YEARS."

In desultory walk through orchard grounds,
Or some deep chestnut grove, oft have I paused
The while a Thrush, urged rather than restrained
By gusts of vernal storm, attuned his song
To his own genial instincts; and was heard
(Though not without some plaintive tones between)
To utter, above showers of blossom swept
From tossing boughs, the promise of a calm,
Which the unsheltered traveller might receive
With thankful spirit. The descant, and the wind
That seemed to play with it in love or scorn,
Encouraged and endeared the strain of words
That haply flowed from me, by fits of silence
Impelled to livelier pace. But now, my Book !
Charged with those lays, and others of like mood,
Or loftier pitch if higher rose the theme,
Go, single, yet aspiring to be joined
With thy Forerunners that through many a year
Have faithfully prepared each other's way, —
Go forth upon a mission best fulfilled
When and wherever, in this changeful world,
Power hath been given to please for higher ends
Than pleasure only; gladdening to prepare

For wholesome sadness, troubling to refine,
Calming to raise; and, by a sapient Art
Diffused through all the mysteries of our Being,
Softening the toils and pains that have not ceased
To cast their shadows on our mother Earth
Since the primeval doom. Such is the grace
Which, though unsued for, fails not to descend
With heavenly inspiration ; such the aim
That Reason dictates; and, as even the wish
Has virtue in it, why should hope to me
Be wanting, that sometimes, where fancied ills
Harass the mind and strip from off the bowers
Of private life their natural pleasantness,
A Voice devoted to the love whose seeds
Are sown in every human breast, to beauty
Lodged within compass of the humblest sight,
To cheerful intercourse with wood and field,
And sympathy with man's substantial griefs —
Will not be heard in vain? And in those days
When unforeseen distress spreads far and wide
Among a People mournfully cast down,
Or into anger roused by venal words
In recklessness flung out to overturn
The judgment, and divert the general heart
From mutual good, some strain of thine, my

Book !
Caught at propitious intervals, may win
Listeners who not unwillingly admit
Kindly emotion tending to console
And reconcile; and both with young and old

« PredošláPokračovať »