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That you will gladly listen to discourse,
However trivial, if you thence be taught
That they, with whom you once were happy, talk
Familiarly of you and of old times.
While I was seated, now some ten days past, Beneath those lofty firs, that overtop Their ancient neighbor, the old steeple-tower, The Vicar from his gloomy house hard by Came forth to greet me; and when he had asked, “ How fares Joanna, that wild-hearted Maid? And when will she return to us ? ” he paused ; And, and after short exchange of village news, He with grave looks demanded, for what cause, Reviving obsolete idolatry, I, like a Runic Priest, in characters Of formidable size had chiselled out Some uncouth name upon the native rock, Above the Rotha, by the forest-side. — Now, by those dear immunities of heart Engendered between malice and true love, I was not loth to be so catechized, And this was my reply :
6 As it befell, One summer morning we had walked abroad At break of day, Joanna and myself.
-’T was that delightful season when the broom, Full-flowered, and visible on every steep, Along the copses runs in veins of gold. Our pathway led us on to Rotha's banks ; And when we came in front of that tall rock
That eastward looks, I there stopped short, and
Tracing the lofty barrier with my eye
From base to summit; such delight I found
To note in shrub and tree, in stone and flower,
That intermixture of delicious hues,
Along so vast a surface, all at once,
In one impression, by connecting force
Of their own beauty, imaged in the heart.
- When I had gazed perhaps two minutes' space,
Joanna, looking in my eyes, beheld
That ravishment of mine, and laughed aloud.
The Rock, like something starting from a sleep,
Took up the Lady's voice, and laughed again ;
That ancient Woman seated on Helm-crag
Was ready with her cavern ; Hammar-scar,
And the tall steep of Silver-how, sent forth
A noise of laughter; southern Loughrigg heard,
And Fairfield answered with a mountain tone;
Helvellyn far into the clear blue sky
Carried the Lady's voice, — old Skiddaw blew
His speaking-trumpet ; — back out of the clouds
Of Glaramara southward came the voice;
And Kirkstone tossed it from his misty head.
Now whether” (said I to our cordial Friend, Who in the heyday of astonishment Smiled in my face) “this were in simple truth A work accomplished by the brotherhood Of ancient mountains, or my ear was touched With dreams and visionary impulses
To me alone imparted, sure I am
That there was a loud uproar in the hills.
And while we both were listening, to my side
The fair Joanna drew, as if she wished
To shelter from some object of her fear.
- And hence, long afterwards, when eighteen
Were wasted, as I chanced to walk alone
Beneath this rock, at sunrise, on a calm
And silent morning, I sat down, and there,
of affections old and true,
I chiselled out in those rude characters
Joanna's name deep in the living stone:
And I, and all who dwell by my fireside,
Have called the lovely rock, JOANNA's Rock.”
NOTE. — In Cumberland and Westmoreland are several in. scriptions, upon the native rock, which, from the wasting of time, and the rudeness of the workmanship, have been mistaken for Runic. They are, without doubt, Roman.
The Rotha, mentioned in this poem, is the river which, flowing through the lakes of Grasmere and Rydale, falls into Wynandermere. On Helm-crag, that impressive single mountain at the head of the Vale of Grasmere, is a rock which from most points of view bears a striking resemblance to an old woman cowering. Close by this rock is one of those fissures or caverns, which in the language of the country are called dungeons. Most of the mountains here mentioned immediately surround the Vale of Grasmere; of the others, some are at a considerable distance, but they belong to the same cluster.
THERE is an Eminence, - of these our hills
The last that parleys with the setting sun;
We can behold it from our orchard-seat ;
And, when at evening we pursue our walk
Along the public way, this Peak, so high
Above us, and so distant in its height,
Is visible; and often seems to send
Its own deep quiet to restore our hearts.
The meteors make of it a favorite haunt:
The star of Jove, so beautiful and large
In the mid-heavens, is never half so fair
As when he shines above it. 'Tis in truth
The loneliest place we have among the clouds.
And she who dwells with me, whom I have loved
With such communion, that no place on earth
Can ever be a solitude to me,
Hath to this lonely Summit given my Name.
A NARROW girdle of rough stones and crags,
A rude and natural causeway, interposed
Between the water and a winding slope
Of copse and thicket, leaves the eastern shore
Of Grasmere safe in its own privacy :
And there myself and two beloved Friends,
One calm September morning, ere the mist
Had altogether yielded to the sun,
Sauntered on this retired and difficult way.
Ill suits the road with one in haste; but we
Played with our time; and, as we strolled along,
It was our occupation to observe
Such objects as the waves had tossed ashore,
Feather, or leaf, or weed, or withered bough,
Each on the other heaped, along the line
Of the dry wreck. And, in our vacant mood,
Not seldom did we stop to watch some tuft
Of dandelion seed or thistle's beard,
That skimmed the surface of the dead calm lake,
Suddenly halting now, -- a lifeless stand!
And starting off again with freak as sudden;
In all its sportive wanderings, all the while,
Making report of an invisible breeze
That was its wings, its chariot, and its horse,
Its playmate, rather say, its moving soul.
And often, trifling with a privilege Alike indulged to all, we paused, one now, And now the other, to point out, perchance To pluck, some flower or water-weed, too fair Either to be divided from the place On which it grew, or to be left alone To its own beauty. Many such there are, Fair ferns and flowers, and chiefly that tall fern, So stately, of the Queen Osmunda named;