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That wears a look so full of peace, and hope,
And love, benignant Mother of the Vale,
How fair amid her brood of Cottages !
She was to him a sickness and reproach.
Much to the last remained unknown; but this
Is sure, that through remorse and grief he died ;
Though pitied among Men, absolved by God,
He could not find forgiveness in himself;
Nor could endure the weight of his own shame.
Here rests a Mother. But from her I turn And from her Grave.—Behold-upon that Ridge, Which, stretching boldly from the mountain side, Carries into the centre of the Vale Its rocks and woods—the Cottage where she dwelt; And where yet dwells her faithful Partner, left (Full eight years past) the solitary prop Of many helpless Children. I begin With words which might be prelude to a Tale Of sorrow and dejection ; but I feel No sadness, when I think of what mine eyes See daily in that happy Family. -Bright Garland form they for the pensive brow
Of their undrooping Father's widowhood,
Those six fair Daughters, budding yet-not one,
Not one of all the band, a full blown Flower !
Depressed, and desolate of soul, as once
That Father was, and filled with anxious fear,
Now by experience taught, he stands assured,
That God, who takes away, yet takes not half
Of what he seems to take; or gives it back,
Not to our prayer, but far beyond our prayer;
He gives it—the boon produce of a soil
Which our endeavours have refused to till,
And Hope hath never watered. The Abode,
Whose grateful Owner can attest these truths,
Even were the object nearer to our sight
Would seem in no distinction to surpass
The rudest habitations. Ye might think
That it had sprung self-raised from earth, or grown
Out of the living rock, to be adorned
By Nature only; but, if thither led,
Ye would discover, then, a studious work
Of many fancies, prompting many hands.
-Brought from the woods the honeysuckle twines Around the porch, and seems, in that trim place,
A Plant no longer wild; the cultured rose
There blossoms, strong in health, and will be soon
Roof-high ; the wild pink crowns the garden wall,
And with the flowers are intermingled stones
Sparry and bright, the scatterings of the hills.
These ornaments, that fade not with the year,
A hardy Girl continues to provide ;
Who, mounting fearlessly the rocky heights,
Her Father's prompt Attendant, does for him
All that a Boy could do; but with delight
More keen and prouder daring: yet hath she,
Within the garden, like the rest, a bed
For her own flowers and favourite herbs-a space,
By sacred charter, holden for her use.
These, and whatever else the garden bears
Of fruit or flower, permission asked or not,
I freely gather; and my leisure draws
A not unfrequent pastime from the sight
Of the Bees murmuring round their sheltered hives
In that Enclosure ; while the mountain rill,
That sparkling thrids the rocks, attunes his voice
To the pure course of human life, which there
Flows on in solitude from year
But at the closing-in of night, then most
This Dwelling charms me. Covered by the gloom,
Then, in my walks, I oftentimes stop short,
(Who could refrain ?) and feed by stealth my sight
With prospect of the Company within,
Laid open through the blazing window :--there
I see the eldest Daughter at her wheel
Spinning amain, as if to overtake
The never-halting time; or, in her turn,
Teaching some Novice of the Sisterhood
That skill in this, or other household work ;
Which, from her Father's honoured hand, herself
While she was yet a little One, had learned.
-Mild Man ! he is not gay, but they are gay ;
And the whole House seems filled with gaiety.
- Thrice happy, then, the Mother may be deemed,
The Wife, who rests beneath that turf, from which
I turned, that ye in mind might witness where,
And how her Spirit yet survives on Earth.
The next three Ridges—those upon the leftBy close connexion with our present thoughts Tempt me to add, in praise of humble worth,
Their brief and unobtrusive history.
One Hillock, ye may note, is small and low,
Sunk almost to a level with the plain
By weight of time; the Others, undepressed,
Are bold and swelling. There a Husband sleeps,
Deposited, in pious confidence
Of glorious resurrection with the just,
Near the loved Partner of his early days ;
And, in the bosom of that family mold,
A second Wife is gathered to his side;
The approved Assistant of an arduous course
From his mid noon of manhood to old age !
He also of his Mate deprived, was left
Alone-'mid many Children; One a Babe
Orphaned as soon as born. Alas! 'tis not
In course of nature that a Father's wing
Should warm these Little-ones ; and can he feed?
That was a thought of agony more keen.
For, hand in hand with Death, by strange mishap
And chance-encounter on their diverse road,
The ghastlier shape of Poverty had entered
Into that House, unfeared and unforeseen.