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THE PASS OF KIRKSTONE

                                   I

          WITHIN the mind strong fancies work.
          A deep delight the bosom thrills
          Oft as I pass along the fork
          Of these fraternal hills:
          Where, save the rugged road, we find
          No appanage of human kind,
          Nor hint of man; if stone or rock
          Seem not his handywork to mock
          By something cognizably shaped;
          Mockery--or model roughly hewn,
          And left as if by earthquake strewn,
          Or from the Flood escaped:
          Altars for Druid service fit;
          (But where no fire was ever lit,
          Unless the glow-worm to the skies
          Thence offer nightly sacrifice)
          Wrinkled Egyptian monument;
          Green moss-grown tower; or hoary tent;
          Tents of a camp that never shall be razed--
          On which four thousand years have gazed!

                                   II

          Ye plough-shares sparkling on the slopes!
          Ye snow-white lambs that trip
          Imprisoned 'mid the formal props
          Of restless ownership!
          Ye trees, that may to-morrow fall
          To feed the insatiate Prodigal!
          Lawns, houses, chattels, groves, and fields,
          All that the fertile valley shields;
          Wages of folly--baits of crime,
          Of life's uneasy game the stake,
          Playthings that keep the eyes awake
          Of drowsy, dotard Time;--
          O care! O guilt!--O vales and plains,
          Here, 'mid his own unvexed domains,
          A Genius dwells, that can subdue
          At once all memory of You,--
          Most potent when mists veil the sky,
          Mists that distort and magnify;
          While the coarse rushes, to the sweeping breeze,
          Sigh forth their ancient melodies!

                                  III

          List to those shriller notes!--'that' march
          Perchance was on the blast,
          When, through this Height's inverted arch,
          Rome's earliest legion passed!
          --They saw, adventurously impelled,
          And older eyes than theirs beheld,
          This block--and yon, whose church-like frame
          Gives to this savage Pass its name.
          Aspiring Road! that lov'st to hide
          Thy daring in a vapoury bourn,
          Not seldom may the hour return
          When thou shalt be my guide:
          And I (as all men may find cause,
          When life is at a weary pause,
          And they have panted up the hill
          Of duty with reluctant will)
          Be thankful, even though tired and faint,
          For the rich bounties of constraint;
          Whence oft invigorating transports flow
          That choice lacked courage to bestow!

                                   IV

          My Soul was grateful for delight
          That wore a threatening brow;
          A veil is lifted--can she slight
          The scene that opens now?
          Though habitation none appear,
          The greenness tells, man must be there;
          The shelter--that the perspective
          Is of the clime in which we live;
          Where Toil pursues his daily round;
          Where Pity sheds sweet tears--and Love,
          In woodbine bower or birchen grove,
          Inflicts his tender wound.
          --Who comes not hither ne'er shall know
          How beautiful the world below;
          Nor can he guess how lightly leaps
          The brook adown the rocky steeps.
          Farewell, thou desolate Domain!
          Hope, pointing to the cultured plain,
          Carols like a shepherd-boy;
          And who is she?--Can that be Joy!
          Who, with a sunbeam for her guide,
          Smoothly skims the meadows wide;
          While Faith, from yonder opening cloud,
          To hill and vale proclaims aloud,
          "Whate'er the weak may dread, the wicked dare,
          Thy lot, O Man, is good, thy portion, fair!"
                                                              1817.


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