The Vale of Esthwaite

[ ? ] avaunt! with tenfold pleasure
I [ ? ] the landskip's various treasure.
Lark, O Lark, thy Song awake
Suspended o'er the glassy lake
And see the mist, as warms the day,
From the green vale steals away;
And ah! yon lingering fleecy streak,
As breaks the rainbow, soon shall break;
Now like a [ ] silver zone
On the lake's lovely bosom thrown
Yet round the mountain tops it sails
Slow born[e] upon the dewy gales.
And on yon summit brown an[d] bare,
That seems an island in the air,
The shepherd's restless dog I mark,
Who, bounding round with frequent bark,
Now leaps around the uncovered plain,
Now dives into the mist again;
And while the guiding sound he hears
The [ ] shepherd lad appears
Who knows his transport while he sees
His cottage smoking from the trees,
[ ? ] [burns?] the shepherd boy
And clasps his clinging dog for joy.
At noon I hied to gloomy glades,
Religious woods and midnight shades,
Where brooding Superstition frowned
A cold and awful horror round,
While with black arm and bending head
She wove a stole of sable thread.
And hark! the ringing harp I hear
And lo! her druid sons appear.
Why roll on me your glaring eyes?
Why fix on me for sacrifice?
But he, the stream's loud genius, seen
The black arched boughs and rocks between
That brood o'er one eternal night,
Shoots from the cliff in robe of white.
So oft in castle moated round
In black damp dungeon underground,
Strange forms are seen that, white and tall,
Stand straight against the coal-black wall.
Then musing onward would I stray
Till every rude sound died away
And naught was heard but at my feet
The faint rill tinkling softly sweet.
[ ] Gothic mansion stood
In the black centre of a wood,
[ ] ever of his rusted door
[ ] shield from death the wandering poor.

And oft as ceased the owl his song
That screamed the roofless walls among,
Spirits yelling from their pains
And lashes loud and clanking chains
Were heard by minstrel led astray
Cold wandering through the swampy way,
Who as he flies the mingled moan
Deep sighs his harp with hollow groan.
He starts the dismal sound to hear,
Nor dares revert his eyes for fear:
Again his harp with grating thrill
Shrieks at his shoulder sharp and shrill;
Aghast he views, with eyes of fire,
A grisly Phantom smite the wire.
Then fancy, like the lightning gleam,
Shot from wondrous dream to dream;
Till roused, perhaps the flickering dove
Broke from the rustling boughs above,
Or straggled sheep with white fleece seen
Between the Boughs of sombrous green,
Starting wildly from its sleep,
Shook the pebble from the steep
That gingling downward shrill and slow
[ ] in the Rill below.—

Lone wandering oft by Esthwaite's s[tream]
My soul has felt the mystic drea[m],
When Twilight, wrapped in dusky s[hroud],
Slow journeyed from her cave of cloud;
Where, as she sleeps the livelong day
And dreams of Philomela's lay,
Her Elfins round her feebly sing,
Or fan her face with silken wing.
Hark, o'er the hills with dewy feet
She comes, and warbles softly sweet,
With voice which was ordained to cheer
In Eden our first father's ear,
When first he saw day's regent drop
Behind the western mountain top;
And sure it soothed his anxious pain,
Sweet as the soft low-warbled strain
Of angels hovering round the bed
Where the dying rest their head,
That they may tempt without a fear
The night of Death so dark and drear.
While in the west the robe of day
Fades, slowly fades, from gold to grey,
The oak its boughs and foliage twines
Marked to the view in stronger lines,
Appears with foliage marked to view,
In lines of stronger, browner hue,
While every darkening leaf between,
The sky distinct and clear is seen.
But now a thicker blacker veil
Is thrown o'er all the wavering dale
[ ] assume
[ ] against the gloom
[ ] the steeple near
[ ] head seems to rear
[ ] woods and hills with hamlets graced
[ ] flat, and seem a level waste.
[ ] last of all the leafy train
[The?] black fir mingles with the plain.
While hills o'er hills in gradual pride
That swelled along the upland's side
From the blunt baffled Vision pass
And melt into one gloomy mass.
And on its bosom all around
No softly sunken vale is found,
Save those seen faintly [?that] combine
To form the Horizon's broken line.
Now holy Melancholy throws
Soft o'er the soul a still repose,
Save where we start as from a sleep
Recoiling from a gloom too deep.
Now too, while o'er the heart we feel
A tender twilight softly steal,
Sweet Pity gives her forms arrayed
In tenderer tints and softer shade;
The heart, when passed the Vision by,
Dissolves, nor knows for whom [n]or why.
If winds faint rippling paint it white
The long lake lengthening stretches on the night,
While many a dark [and?] sleeping bay
Blends with the shore and steals away,
With dew-drop eye and languid cheek
Pale as the dying western streak.

What though my griefs must never flow
For scenes of visionary woe,
I trust the Bard can never part
With Pity, Autumn of the heart!
She comes and o'er the soul we feel
Soft tender tints of Sorrow steal;
Each flaunting thought of glowing dye,
The offspring of a brighter sky
That late in Summer colours dressed
The laughing landscape of the breast,
Is dead, or tinged with darkened shades
In sickly sorrow droops and fades.
But, Charity, thy treasures show
A warmer tint and riper glow,
And richly teem with smiling store
For the long Winter of the poor.

How sweet at Eve's still hour the song
Of streams, the hills and vales among.
Wide as the Schoolboy's step the rill
Drops from the near rock tinkling shrill;
The Brook, scarce worth a bridge of stone,
Soothes the lulled ear with softer moan.
A deep majestic murmur shows
Where the slow solemn River flows;
The torrent like the raving shore
Swells the full choir['s] sullen roar.


Hoarse sound the swoln and angry floods
And high amid the rocky [woods?]
Moans the wet wind—my listening ear
The wild lone wailings seems to hear—
Of one who crazed with care and pain
Hung to her straw and clanking chain.


Yon hamlet far across the vale
Is decked in lustre soft and pale;
Hope, like this moon, emerging fair
On the dark night of sad despair
Till higher mounted cannot cheer
The sable mountains frowning near
Yet does she still all fondly play
On scenes remote with smiling ray.
'Tis thus the dawning queen of Night
While ineffectual is her light
To gild the mountains near arrayed
In gloomy blank impervious shade
Bounds o'er the gloom . . .


How sweet in life's tear-glistering morn
‘While fancy's rays the hills adorn,’
To rove as through an Eden vale
The sad maze of some tender tale,
Pluck the wild flowers and fondly place
The treasure in the bosom's face.
Yet ah! full oft the enchanting while
We crowd the heart with pile on pile.
[ ] rising high
Well from the heart, they droop, and all is dry.


To mark the white smoke rising slow
From the wood-built pile below,
Hang like a Spirit on its way,
Hang lingering round with fond delay
Round the dear Spot where late it fell,
And it had loved so long and well.
Methinks my rising soul would smile
With joy, to linger here awhile.


The ploughboy by his gingling wain
Whistles along the ringing lane
And, as he strikes with sportive lash
The leaves of thick o'erhanging ash
Wavering they fall; while at the sound
The blinking bats flit round and round.


The moaning owl shall soon
Sob long and tremulous to the moon
Who soon the dark grey cloud shall fold
In robes of azure white and gold
And to the sky a blue restore
Deeper than in the day it wore.

But Lo the night while from [ ]
The [ ? ] owl screams her song
And mark the [pain?] of fear
Waves her black banner to the r[ear]
[ ] I the while
Looked through the tall and sable isle
Of firs that to a mansion led
With many a turret on its head;
And while the wild wind raved aloud,
And each his grim black forehead bowed,
And flung his mighty arms around
That clanged and met with crashing sound,
They seemed unto my fear-struck mind
Gigantic Moors in battle joined;
While each with hollow-threatening tone
Claimed the hoar castle as his own.
I started—and with wild affright
Turned on the pale-faced child of Night,
That wandering through the pathless skies
Shot by fits before my eyes.
Now hollow sounding all around I hear
Deep murmurings creep upon my ear;
No more the wild shrieks of the storm
Drive to its cell the startling worm.
Alone, the Spirit of the surge
Sings from the rocks the tempest's dirge,
While now and then the Fisher's skiff
Clanks its small chain against the cliff.
Green isles, steep woods, emerge to view
And white rocks shagged with sable yew
The solemn mists, dark brown or pale,
March slow and solemn down the vale;
The moon with sick and watery face
Wades through the skies with heavy pace.
Now did I love the dismal gloom
Of haunted Castle's panelled room
Listening the wild wind's wailing song
Whistling the rattling doors among;
When as I heard a rustling sound
My haggard eyes would turn around,
Which strait a female form surveyed
Tall, and in silken vest arrayed.
Her face of wan and ashy hue
And in one hand a taper blue;
Fixed at the door she seemed to stand
And beckoning slowly waved her hand.
I rose, above my head a bell
The mansion shook with solemn knell.
Through aisles that shuddered as we passed
By [window?] flapping [ ? ] the blast
And green damp windings dark and steep,
She brought me to [a] dungeon deep,
Then stopped, and thrice her head she shook,
More pale and ghastly seemed her look.
[ ] [dropping?] showed
An iron coffer marked with blood.
The taper turned from blue to red
Flashed out—and with a shriek she fled.
With arms in horror spread around
I moved—a form unseen I found
Twist round my hand an icy chain
And drag me to the spot again.
But these were poor and puny joys
Fond sickly Fancy's idle toys.
I loved to haunt the giddy steep
That hung loose trembling o'er the deep,
While ghosts of Murderers mounted fast
And grimly glared upon the blast.
While the dark whirlwind robed, unseen,
With black arm reared the clouds between;
In anger Heaven's terrific Sire
Prophetic struck the mighty Lyre
Of Nature; with Hell-rouzing sound
Now shrieked the quivering strings around;
At each drear pause a hollow breath
Was heard—that sung of pain and Death,
While, her dark cheek all ghastly bright,
Like a chained Madman laughed the Night.
Again! the deep tones strike mine ear,
My soul will melt away with fear,
Or swelled to madness bid me leap
Down, headlong down, the hideous steep.
Yet Ah! that soul was never blind
To pleasures of a softer kind.
[ ]
[ ]
Her tints so shadowy soft and pale
O'er lovely Grasmere's heavenly vale
While muttering low the wayward song
I sat the wild field-flowers among;
Through what sweet scenes did fancy rove
While thus her fairy dreams she wove.
Compared with fancy what is truth?
And Reason, what art thou to Youth?
Soft sleeps the breeze upon the deep
Sweet flowers, while all in peace you [sleep?]
[ ? ] of the tempest which may blow
Tomorrow, and may lay you low.


While lighted by the star of eve
No more a curtain shall they form
Giving its shelter from the storm,
The moon retired, air blackened round,
And loud the tempest lashed the ground;
I tried the wide vault dark and blind
While Terror lashed me on behind,
While yelling loud the torrents white
Shot through the gloom upon my sight.
So in his hall in times of yore
Alone a Baron, wandering o'er
At midnight hour with melting gaze
The holy forms of other days,
Has marked slow creeping round the wall
A gloom as black as funeral pall,
And a tall Ghost of ashy hue
On every canvas met his view.
The Demons of the storm in crowds
Glared through the partings of the clouds
While Satan, calling those around,
He trod the hills with thundering sound.
Pale, faint and dismal was the trace
Of human feature on his face.


On tiptoe, as I leaned, aghast
Listening the hollow-howling blast
I started back—when at my hand
A tall thin Spectre seemed to stand.
Like two wan withered leaves his eyes,
His bones looked sable through his skin
As the pale moonbeam wan and thin
Which through a chink of rock we view
On a lone sable blasted eugh.
And on one bended arm he bore
What seemed the poet's harp of yore;
One hand he waved—and would have spoke,
But from his trembling shadow broke
Faint murmuring—sad and hollow moans
As if the wind sighed through his bones.
He waved again, we entered slow
A passage narrow, damp and low,
I heard the mountain heave a sigh
Nodding its rocky helm on high,
And on we journeyed man[y] a mile
While all was black as night the while,
Save his tall form before my sight
Seen by the wan, pale, dismal ligh[t]
Around his bones so [ ] shed
Like a white shroud that wraps [?the dead].
Now as we wandered through the gloom
In black Helvellyn's inmost womb
The Spectre made a solemn stand,
Slow round my head thrice waved his [?hand],
And [ ? ] mine ear then swept his [?lyre]
That shrieked terrific shrill and [?dire]
Shuddered the fiend, the vault among
Echoed the loud and dismal song.
'Twas [done?]. The scene of woe was o'er;
My breaking soul could bear no more.
[ ? ] when with a thunderous sound
That shook the groaning mountain round
A massy door wide open flew
[ ]
That [ ? ] [ ] my grisly guide
Each night my troubled spirit ride
[ ] unveil
To mortal ears the horrid tale
'Twere vain [ ]
Start from my body mad with fear
I saw the ghosts and heard the yell
Of every Briton [ ] who fell
When Edmund deaf to horror's cries
Trod out the cruel Brother's eyes
With [ ] heel and savage scowl,
While terror shapeless rides my soul,
[ ] together are we hurled
Far, far amid the shadowy world.
And since that hour, the world unknown,
The world of shades is all my own.


] from a blasted [?] I saw
A dark and dreary vale below,
And through it a river [?strong]
In sleepy horror heaved along,
And many a high rock black and steep
Hung brooding on the darksome deep,
And on each sable rock was seen
A Form of wild terrific mien.
Ha! that is hell-born Murder nigh
With haggard, half-reverted eye,
And now aghast he seems to stare
On some strange Vision in the air,
And Suicide with savage glance
Started from his brooding trance,
Then sunk again, anon he eyed
With sullen smiles the torpid tide;
And moody Madness aye was there
With wide-rent robe and shaggy hair.
That streamed all wildly round his f[ace]


Peace to that noisy brawling din
That jars upon the dirge within,
Dear stream, forgive thy friend, for he
Before was never harsh to thee.
But ah! fond prattler, ah! the strain
No more, as wont, can sooth[e] my pain;
Cease, cease, or rouse that sullen roar
As, when a wintry storm is o'er,
Thy rock-fraught heavy heaving flood
Sounds dear, and creeps along the freezing blood.
'Tis dear—and still with merry song
Dashed from the rough rocks lively leaps along.
At sleepy noon what idler now
Shall pore upon the willow bough?
Upon thy bosom pleasure dancing,
Still retreating or advancing,
Still art thou dear, fond prattler, run,
And glitter in tomorrow['s] sun.

No spot but claims the tender tear
By joy or grief to memory dear.
One Evening when the wintry blast
Through the sharp Hawthorn whistling passed
And the poor flocks, all pinched with cold
Sad-drooping sought the mountain fold
Long, long, upon yon naked rock
Alone, I bore the bitter shock;
Long, long, my swimming eyes did roam
For little Horse to bear me home,
To bear me—what avails my tear?
To sorrow o'er a Father's bier.
Flow on, in vain thou hast not flowed,
But eased me of a heavy load;
For much it gives my heart relief
To pay the mighty debt of grief,
With sighs repeated o'er and o'er,
I mourn because I mourned no more.
For ah! the storm was soon at rest,
Soon broke [ ? ] upon my breast
Nor did my little heart foresee
She lost a home in losing thee.
Nor did it know of thee bereft
That little more than Heaven was left.
Thanks to the voice in whisper sweet
That says we soon again shall meet;
For oft when fades the leaden day
To joy-consuming pain a prey,
Or from afar the midnight bell
Flings on mine ear its solemn knell,
A still Voice whispers to my breast
I soon shall be with them that rest.
Then, may some kind an[d] pious friend
Assiduous o'er my body bend,
Once might I see him turn aside
The kind unwilling tear to hide,
And may—for while the tempests blow,
And cold we tread this vale of woe,
So dearly shall man buy a shed
To hide but for an hour his head.
Nor is one wandering wish to roam
Fondly to his long, long home.
Ah! may my weary body sleep
In peace beneath a green grass heap,
In Churchyard, such at death of day
As heard the pensive sighs of Gray;
And if the Children loitering round
Should e'er disturb the holy ground,
Come, [oh?] come with pensive pace
The violated sod replace,
And what would even in death be dear,
Ah! pour upon the spot a tear.
Friend of my soul! for whom I feel
What words can never half reveal,
Thou too when musing by the side
Of thy Winander's darling tide,
While Hermit Eve in funeral stole
With holy thoughts inspires the soul,
Thou too shalt turn thine eager eyes
To where the Vale of Esthwaite lies
(That vale where first my eyes surveyed
Fair Friendship in thy form arrayed)
And ah! fond wish, methinks I see
One tender thought shall steal to me.
But cease my soul, ah! cease to pry
Through Time's dark veil with curious eye,
That power who gave and only knows
The hour when these sad orbs shall close
May hold before me Nature's page
Till dim seen by the eyes of age;
Then basking in the noontide blaze
Here might I fix my feeble gaze
As on a Book, companion dear
Of childhood's ever merry year,
Retrace each scene with fond delight
While memory aids the orbs of sight.
Perhaps my pains might be beguiled
By some fond vacant gazing child;
He the long wondrous tale would hear
With simple unfastidious ear
For while I wandered round the vale
From every rock would ‘hang a tale,’
While he with questions dear and dear
Called tale from tale and tear from tear.
Yet if Heaven bear me far away
To close the evening of my day,
If no vast blank impervious cloud
The powers of thought in darkness shroud,
Sick, trembling at the world unknown
And doubting what to call her own,
Even while my body pants for breath
And shrinks at the dart of Death,
My soul shall cast the wistful view
The longing look alone on you.
As Phoebus, when he sinks to rest
Far on the mountains in the west,
While all the vale is dark between
Ungilded by his golden sheen,
A lingering lustre softly throws
On the dear hills where first he rose.
[ ] For I must never share
A tender parent's guardian care;
Sure, from the world's unkind alarm,
Returning to a mother's arm;
Mist-eyed awhile upraise the head
Else sinking to Death's joyless bed,
And when by pain, by Death, depressed
Ah! sure it gentler sinks to rest.
As when a Ball, his darling toy,
Tossed upward by some watchful boy
Meets in its quick declining course
The well-known hand that gave it force,
Springs up again with feeble bound
Then softer falls upon the ground.
Sister, for whom I feel a love
What warms a Brother far above,
On you, as sad she marks the scene,
Why does my heart so fondly lean?
Why but because in you is given
All, all, my soul would wish from Heaven?
Why but because I fondly view
All, all that Heaven has claimed, in you?

What from the social chain can tear
This bosom linked for ever there,
Which feels, whene'er the hand of pain
Touches this heaven connected chain,
Feels quick as thought the electric thrill
Feels it ah me—and shudders still?
While bounteous Heaven shall Fleming leave
Of Friendship what can me bereave?
Till then shall live the holy flame,
Friendship and Fleming are the same.

Adieu, ye forms of Fear that float
Wild on the shipwreck of the thought,
While fancy in a Demon's form
Rides through the clouds and swells the storm,
To thee, sweet Melancholy, blind,
The moonlight of the Poet's mind,
Blind to the thousand worlds that lie
In the small orb of [ ] eye.

While Fancy loves apar[t] to dwell,
Scarce through the wicker of her cell
Dares shoot one timorous winking eye
To cheer me drooping on my way;
And that full soon must I resign
To delve in Mammon's joyless mine.

Your hollow echoes only moan
To toil's loud din or Sorrow's groan.

What though your dreary gloom absorb
[ ] of the rolling orb
The muses gave when first they placed
Their pencil in the hand of taste?
[ ? ] on the mental tablet throws
Each Beauty Art and Nature knows
In tints whose strength though time efface
He blends them into softer grace.
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