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WRITTEN WITH A SLATE PENCIL UPON A STONE, THE LARGEST OF A HEAP LYING NEAR A DESERTED QUARRY, UPON ONE OF THE ISLANDS AT RYDAL.

      STRANGER! this hillock of mis-shapen stones
      Is not a Ruin spared or made by time,
      Nor, as perchance thou rashly deem'st, the Cairn
      Of some old British Chief: 'tis nothing more
      Than the rude embryo of a little Dome
      Or Pleasure-house, once destined to be built
      Among the birch-trees of this rocky isle.
      But, as it chanced, Sir William having learned
      That from the shore a full-grown man might wade,
      And make himself a freeman of this spot                         10
      At any hour he chose, the prudent Knight
      Desisted, and the quarry and the mound
      Are monuments of his unfinished task.
      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,                    20
      For old Sir William was a gentle Knight,
      Bled 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                      30
      In snow-white splendour,--think again; and, taught
      By old Sir William and his quarry, leave
      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.
                                                              1800.


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