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The block on which these lines are traced, perhaps,
Was once selected as the corner-stone
Of that intended Pile, which would have been
Some quaint odd plaything of elaborate skill,
So that, I guess, the linnet and the thrush,
And other little builders who dwell here,
Had wondered at the work. But blame him not,
For old Sir William was a gentle Knight,
Bred in this vale, to which he appertained
With all his ancestry. Then peace to him,
And for the outrage which he had devised
Entire forgiveness !—But if thou art one
On fire with thy impatience to become
An inmate of these mountains,—if, disturbed
By beautiful conceptions, thou hast hewn
Out of the quiet rock the elements
Of thy trim Mansion destined soon to blaze
In snow-white splendour,-think again; and, taught
By old Sir William and his quarry,
Thy fragments to the bramble and the rose;
There let the vernal slow-worm sun himself,
And let the redbreast hop from stone to stone.
[ENGRAVEN, during my absence in Italy, upon a brass plate inserted
in the Stone.]
In these fair vales hath many a Tree
At Wordsworth's suit been spared ;
And from the builder's hand this Stone,
For some rude beauty of its own,
(The walk is what we call the Par-terrace, beyond the summer
house at Rydal Mount. The lines were written when we were afraid of being obliged to quit the place to which we were so much attached.]
The massy Ways, carried across these heights
By Roman perseverance, are destroyed,
Or hidden under ground, like sleeping worms.
How venture then to hope that Time will spare
This humble Walk ? Yet on the mountain's side
A POET's hand first shaped it; and the steps
Of that same Bard-repeated to and fro
At morn, at noon, and under moonlight skies
Through the vicissitudes of many a year-
Forbade the weeds to
No longer, scattering to the heedless winds
The vocal raptures of fresh poesy,
Shall he frequent these precincts; locked no more
In earnest converse with beloved Friends,
Here will he gather stores of ready bliss,
As from the beds and borders of a garden
Choice flowers are gathered! But, if Power may spring
Out of a farewell yearning-favoured more
Than kindred wishes mated suitably
With vain regrets—the Exile would consign
This Walk, his loved possession, to the care
Of those pure Minds that reverence the Muse.
INSCRIPTIONS SUPPOSED TO BE FOUND IN AND NEAR A
HOPEs what are they ?-Beads of morning
Strung on slender blades of grass ;
Or a spider's web adorning
In a strait and treacherous pass.
What are fears but voices airy ?
Whispering harm where harm is not;
And deluding the unwary
Till the fatal bolt is shot!
What is glory ?-in the socket
See how dying tapers fare !
What is pride ?-whizzing rocket
That would emulate a star.
What is friendship ?-do not trust her,
Nor the vows which she has made;
Diamonds dart their brightest lustre
From a palsy-shaken head.
What is truth ?-a staff rejected;
Duty ?-an unwelcome clog;
Joy ?-a moon by fits reflected
In a swamp or watery bog;
Bright, as if through ether steering,
To the Traveller's eye it shone:
He hath hailed it re-appearing-
And as quickly it is gone;
Such is Joy—as quickly hidden,
Or mis-shapen to the sight,
And by sullen weeds forbidden
To resume its native light.
What is youth ?-a dancing billow, (Winds behind, and rocks before !) Age?-a drooping, tottering willow On a flat and lazy shore.
What is peace ?-when pain is over,
And love ceases to rebel,
Let the last faint sigh discover
That precedes the passing-knell !
[The monument of ice here spoken of I observed while ascending the
middle road of the three ways that lead from Rydal to Grasmere. It was on my right hand, and my eyes were upon it when it fell, as told in these lines.]
PAUSE, Traveller! whosoe'er thou be
Whom chance may lead to this retreat,
Where silence yields reluctantly
Even to the fleecy straggler's bleat;
Give voice to what my hand shall trace,
And fear not lest an idle sound
Of words unsuited to the place
Disturb its solitude profound.
I saw this Rock, while vernal air
Blew softly o'er the russet heath,
Uphold a Monument as fair
As church or abbey furnisheth.
Unsullied did it meet the day,
Like marble, white, like ether, pure;
As if, beneath, some hero lay,
Honoured with costliest sepulture.
My fancy kindled as I gazed;
And, ever as the sun shone forth,
The flattered structure glistened, blazed,
And seemed the proudest thing on earth.