WHERE, under Loughrigg, the stream
Of Rotha sparkles, the fields
Are green, in the house of one
Friendly and gentle, now dead,
Wordsworth’s son-in-law, friend—
Four years since, on a mark’d
Evening, a meeting I saw.
Two friends met there, two fam’d
Gifted women. The one,
Brilliant with recent renown,
Young, unpractis’d, had told
With a Master’s accent her feign’d
Story of passionate life:
The other, maturer in fame,
Earning, she too, her praise
First in Fiction, had since
Widen’d her sweep, and survey’d
History, Politics, Mind.
They met, held converse: they wrote
In a book which of glorious souls
Held memorial: Bard,
Warrior, Statesman, had left
Their names:—chief treasure of all,
Scott had consign’d there his last
Breathings of song, with a pen
Tottering, a death-stricken hand.
I beheld; the obscure
Saw the famous. Alas!
Years in number, it seem’d,
Lay before both, and a fame
Heighten’d, and multiplied power.
Behold! The elder, to-day,
Lies expecting from Death,
In mortal weakness, a last
Summons: the younger is dead.
First to the living we pay
Mournful homage: the Muse
Gains not an earth-deafen’d ear.
Hail to the steadfast soul,
Which, unflinching and keen,
Wrought to erase from its depth
Mist, and illusion, and fear!
Hail to the spirit which dar’d
Trust its own thoughts, before yet
Echoed her back by the crowd!
Hail to the courage which gave
Voice to its creed, ere the creed
Won consecration from Time!
Turn, O Death, on the vile,
Turn on the foolish the stroke
Hanging now o’er a head
Active, beneficent, pure!
But, if the prayer be in vain—
But, if the stroke must fall—
Her, whom we cannot save,
What might we say to console?
She will not see her country lose
Its greatness, nor the reign of fools prolong’d.
She will behold no more
This ignominious spectacle,
Power dropping from the hand
Of paralytic factions, and no soul
To snatch and wield it: will not see
Her fellow people sit
Helplessly gazing on their own decline.
Myrtle and rose fit the young,
Laurel and oak the mature.
Private affections, for these,
Have run their circle, and left
Space for things far from themselves,
Thoughts of the general weal,
Country, and public cares:
Public cares, which move
Seldom and faintly the depth
Of younger passionate souls
Plung’d in themselves, who demand
Only to live by the heart,
Only to love and be lov’d.
How shall we honour the young,
The ardent, the gifted? how mourn
Console we cannot; her ear
Is deaf. Far northward from here,
In a churchyard high mid the moors
Of Yorkshire, a little earth
Stops it for ever to praise.
Where, behind Keighley, the road
Up to the heart of the moors
Between heath-clad showery hills
Runs, and colliers’ carts
Poach the deep ways coming down,
And a rough, grim’d race have their homes—
There, on its slope, is built
The moorland town. But the church
Stands on the crest of the hill,
Lonely and bleak; at its side
The parsonage-house and the graves.
See! in the desolate house
The childless father! Alas—
Age, whom the most of us chide,
Chide, and put back, and delay—
Come, unupbraided for once
Lay thy benumbing hand,
Gratefully cold, on this brow!
Shut out the grief, the despair!
Weaken the sense of his loss!
Deaden the infinite pain!
Another grief I see,
Younger: but this the Muse,
In pity and silent awe
Revering what she cannot soothe,
With veil’d face and bow’d head,
Salutes, and passes by.
Strew with roses the grave
Of the early-dying. Alas!
Early she goes on the path
To the Silent Country, and leaves
Half her laurels unwon,
Dying too soon: yet green
Laurels she had, and a course
Short, but redoubled by Fame.
For him who must live many years
That life is best which slips away
Out of the light, and mutely; which avoids
Fame, and her less-fair followers, Envy, Strife,
Stupid Detraction, Jealousy, Cabal,
Insincere Praises:—which descends
The mossy quiet track to Age.
But, when immature Death
Beckons too early the guest
From the half-tried Banquet of Life,
Young, in the bloom of his days;
Leaves no leisure to press,
Slow and surely, the sweet
Of a tranquil life in the shade—
Fuller for him be the hours!
Give him emotion, though pain!
Let him live, let him feel, I have liv’d.
Heap up his moments with life!
Quicken his pulses with Fame!
And not friendless, nor yet
Only with strangers to meet,
Faces ungreeting and cold,
Thou, O Mourn’d One, to-day
Enterest the House of the Grave.
Those of thy blood, whom thou lov’dst,
Have preceded thee; young,
Loving, a sisterly band:
Some in gift, some in art
Inferior; all in fame.
They, like friends, shall receive
This comer, greet her with joy;
Welcome the Sister, the Friend;
Hear with delight of thy fame.
Round thee they lie; the grass
Blows from their graves toward thine.
She, whose genius, though not
Puissant like thine, was yet
Sweet and graceful: and She—
(How shall I sing her?)—whose soul
Knew no fellow for might,
Passion, vehemence, grief,
Daring, since Byron died,
That world-fam’d Son of Fire; She, who sank
Baffled, unknown, self-consum’d;
Whose too bold dying song
Shook, like a clarion-blast, my soul.
Of one too I have heard,
A Brother—sleeps he here?—
Of all his gifted race
Not the least gifted; young,
Unhappy, beautiful; the cause
Of many hopes, of many tears.
O Boy, if here thou sleep’st, sleep well!
On thee too did the Muse
Bright in thy cradle smile:
But some dark Shadow came
(I know not what) and interpos’d.
Sleep, O cluster of friends,
Sleep! or only, when May,
Brought by the West Wind, returns
Back to your native heaths,
And the plover is heard on the moors,
Yearly awake, to behold
The opening summer, the sky,
The shining moorland; to hear
The drowsy bee, as of old,
Hum o’er the thyme, the grouse
Call from the heather in bloom:
Sleep; or only for this
Break your united repose.