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Nor pleasure nor tranquillity, at last,
After a wandering course of discontent
In foreign Lands, and inwardly oppressed
With malady—in part, I fear, provoked
By weariness of life, he fixed his Home,
Or, rather say, sate down by very chance,
Among these rugged hills; where now he dwells,
And wastes the sad remainder of his hours
In self-indulging spleen, that doth not want
Its own voluptuousness ;-on this resolved,
With this content, that he will live and die
Forgotten,-at safe distance from a “ world
Not moving to his mind.”
These serious words
Closed the preparatory notices
With which my Fellow-traveller had beguiled
The way, while we advanced up that wide Vale.
Now, suddenly diverging, he began
To climb upon its western side a Ridge
Pathless and smooth, a long and steep ascent;
As if the object of his quest had been
Some secret of the Mountains, Cavern, Fall
Of water-or some boastful Eminence,
Renowned for splendid prospect far and wide.
We clomb without a track to guide our steps;
And, on the summit, reached a heathy plain,
With a tumultuous waste of huge hill tops
Before us; savage region! and I walked
In weariness: when, all at once, behold!
Beneath our feet, a little lowly Vale,
A lowly Vale, and yet uplifted high
Among the mountains ; even as if the spot
Had been, from eldest time by wish of theirs,
So placed,—to be shut out from all the world!
Urn-like it was in shape, deep as an Urn;
With rocks encompassed, save that to the South
Was one small opening, where a heath-clad ridge
Supplied a boundary less abrupt and close.
A quiet treeless nook, with two green fields,
A liquid pool that glittered in the sun,
And one bare Dwelling; one Abode, no more!
It seemed the home of poverty and toil
Though not of want: the little fields, made
By husbandry of many thrifty years,
Paid cheerful tribute to the moorland House.
-There crows the Cock, single in his domain :
The small birds find in spring no thicket there
To shroud them; only from the neighbouring Vales
The Cuckoo straggling up to the hill tops
Shouteth faint tidings of some gladder place.
Ah! what a sweet Recess, thought I, is here! Instantly throwing down my limbs at ease Upon a bed of heath ;—full many a spot Of hidden beauty have I chanced to espy Among the mountains; never one like this ; So lonesome, and so perfectly secure: Not melancholy—no, for it is green, And bright, and fertile, furnished in itself With the few needful things which life requires. -In rugged arms how soft it seems to lie, How tenderly protected! Far and near We have an image of the pristine earth, The planet in its nakedness; were this Man's only dwelling, sole appointed seat, First, last, and single in the breathing world, It could not be more quiet: peace is here Or no where; days unruffled by the gale Of public news or private; years that pass
Forgetfully; uncalled upon to pay
The common penalties of mortal life,
Sickness, or accident, or grief, or pain
On these and other kindred thoughts intent, In silence by my Comrade's side I lay, He also silent: when from out the heart Of that profound Abyss a solemn Voice, Or several Voices in one solemn sound, Was heard—ascending: mournful, deep, and slow The cadence, as of Psalms—a funeral dirge! We listened, looking down towards the Hut, But seeing no One: meanwhile from below The strain continued, spiritual as before; And now distinctly could I recognize These words ;—“ Shall in the Grave thy love be known, In Death thy faithfulness ?”—“ God rest his Soul,” The Wanderer cried, abruptly breaking silence, “ He is departed, and finds peace at last!"
This scarcely spoken, and those holy strains
Not ceasing, forth appeared in view a band
Of rustic Persons, from behind the hut
Bearing a Coffin in the midst, with which
They shaped their course along the sloping side
Of that small Valley ; singing as they moved ;
A sober company and few, the Men
Bare-headed, and all decently attired !
Some steps when they had thus advanced, the dirge
Ended ; and, from the stillness that ensued
Recovering, to my Friend I said, “ You spake,
Methought, with apprehension that these rites
Are paid to Him upon whose shy retreat
This day we purposed to intrude.”—“ I did so.
But let us hence, that we may learn the truth:
Perhaps it is not he but some One else
For whom this pious service is performed;
Some other Tenant of the Solitude.”
So, to a steep and difficult descent
Trusting ourselves, we wound from crag to crag,
Where passage could be won; and, as the last
Of the mute train, upon the heathy top
Of that off-sloping Outlet, disappeared,
I, more impatient in the course I took,
Had landed upon easy ground, and there