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Listen ! you can scarcely hear !
The Horses have worked with right good-will, And so have gained the top of the hill; He was patient, they were strong, And now they smoothly glide along, Recovering breath, and pleased to win The praises of mild Benjamin. Heaven shield him from mishap and snare! But why so early with this prayer? Is it for threatenings in the sky ? Or for some other danger nigh? No; none is near him yet, though he Be one of much infirmity; For at the bottom of the brow, Where once the Dove and OLIVE-BOUGH Offered a greeting of good ale To all who entered Grasmere Vale, And called on him who must depart To leave it with a jovial heart, There, where the Dove and OLIVE-BOUGH Once hung, a Poet harbors now, A simple water-drinking Bard ;
Why need our Hero then (though frail
Here is no danger,
none at all! Beyond his wish he walks secure; But pass a mile - and then for trial, Then for the pride of self-denial; If he resist that tempting door, Which with such friendly voice will call ; If he resist those casement panes, And that bright gleam which thence will fall Upon his Leaders' bells and manes, Inviting him with cheerful lure : For still, though all be dark elsewhere, Some shining notice will be there, Of open house and ready fare.
The place to Benjamin right well Is known, and by as strong a spell As used to be that sign of love And hope, — the OLIVE-BOUGH and DOVE; He knows it to his cost, good Man ! Who does not know the famous Swan?
Object uncouth ! and yet our boast,
Well! that is past, — and in despite
Now am I fairly safe to-night, -
* This rude piece of self-taught art (such is the progress of refinement) has been supplanted by a professional production.
And, to my soul's content, I find
horses yet! My jolly team, he finds that ye Will work for nobody but me! Full proof of this the Country gained ; It knows how ye were vexed and strained, And forced unworthy stripes to bear, When trusted to another's care. Here was it, on this rugged slope, Which now ye climb with heart and hope, I saw you, between rage and fear, Plunge, and fling back a spiteful ear, And ever more and more confused, As ye were more and more abused : As chance would have it, passing by, I saw you in that jeopardy : A word from me was like a charm; Ye pulled together with one mind; And your huge burden, safe from harm, Moved like a vessel in the wind !
Yes, without me, up hills so high 'Tis vain to strive for mastery. Then grieve not, jolly team! though tough The road we travel, steep, and rough ; Though Rydal heights and Dunmail-raise, And all their fellow banks and braes, Full often make you stretch and strain, And halt for breath and halt again,
Yet to their sturdiness 't is owing
While Benjamin in earnest mood His meditations thus pursued, A storm, which had been smothered long, Was growing inwardly more strong; And, in its struggles to get free, Was busily employed as he. The thunder had begun to growl,He heard not, too intent of soul; The air was now without a breath,He marked not that 't was still as death. But soon large rain-drops on his head Fell with the weight of drops of lead; He starts, — and takes, at the admonition,
, A sage survey of his condition. The road is black before his
eyes, Glimmering faintly where it lies ; Black is the sky, — and every hill, Up to the sky, is blacker still, Sky, hill, and dale, one dismal room, Hung round and overhung with gloom ; Save that above a single height Is to be seen a lurid light, Above Helm-crag, * a streak half dead, A burning of portentous red;
* A mountain of Grasmere, the broken summit of which presents two figures, full as distinctly shaped as that of the famous Cobbler near Arroquhar in Scotland.