« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
V. THE WINTER MORNING WALK. 183 And patient of the now-pac'd swain's delay. He from the stack carves out th'accustom'd load, Deep-plunging, and again deep plunging oft, His broad keen knife into the folid mass: Smooth as a wall the upright remnant stands, With such undeviating and even force He fevers it away: no needless care, Left storms should overset the leaning pile Deciduous, or its own unbalanc'd weight. Forth goes the woodman, leaving unconcern'd The cheerful haunts of man; to wield the axe And drive the wedge, in yonder forest drear, From morn to eve his solitary task. Shaggy, and lean, and shrewd, with pointed ears And tail cropp'd short, half lurcher and half curHis dog attends him. Close behind his heel Now creeps he now; and now, with many a frisk Wide-scamp'ring, snatches up the drifted snow With iv'ry teeth, or ploughs it with his snout; Then shakes his powder'd coat, and barks for joy.
Heedless of all his pranks, the sturdy chur!
Moves right toward the mark; nor stops for aught,
But now and then with preffure of his thumb , ;
T'adjust the fragrant charge of a short tube
That fumes beneath his nose: the trailing cloud .
Streams far behind him, scenting all the air. .
Now from the rooft, or from the neighb’ring pale,
Where, diligent to catch the first faint gleam
Of smiling day, they gossip'd side by side,
Come trooping at the housewife's well-known call
The feather'd tribes domestic. Half on wing,
And half on foot, they brush the fleecy flood,
Conscious, and fearful of too deep a plunge.
The sparrows peep, and quit the shelt’ring eaves
To seize the fair occasion. Well they eye
The scatter'd grain; and, thievishly resolv’d
T'escape th’impending faminé; often scar’d,
As oft return—a pert voracious kind.
Clean riddance quickly made, one only care
Remains to each--the search of funny nook, "
Or shed impervious to the blast. Resign'd
To fad necessity, the cock foregoes
His wonted strut; and, wading at their head
With well-consider'd steps, seems to resent
His alter'd gait and stateliness retrench’d.
How find the myriads, that in summer cheer
The hills and vallies with their ceaseless fongs,
Due sustenance, or where sublist they now?
Earth yields them nought: th’ imprison'd worm is safe
Beneath the frozen clod; all feeds of herbs
Lie cover'd close; and berry-bearing thorns,
That feed the thrush, (whatever some suppose)
Afford the smaller minstrels no supply.
The long protracted rigour of the year
Thins all their num'rous flocks. In chinks and holes
Ten thousand seek an unmolested end,
As instinct prompts ; felf-buried ere they die.
The very rooks and daws forsake the fields,
Where neither grub, nor root, nor earth-nut, now
Repays their labour more; and, perch'd aloft
By the way-side, or stalking in the path,
Lean pensioners upon the travler’s track,
Pick up their nauseous dole, though sweet to them,
Of voided pulse or half-digested grain.
The streams are lost amid the splendid blank,
O'erwhelming all distinction. On the flood,
Indurated and fixt, the snowy weight
Lies undiffolv’d; while silently beneath,
And unperceiv'd, the current steals away.
Noe fo where, scornful of a check, it leaps
The mill-dam, dashes on the restless wheel,
And wantons in the pebbly gulph below:
No frost can bind it there; its utmost force
Can but arrest the light and smoky mist
That in its fall the liquid sheet throws wide.
And see where it has hung th' embroider'd banks
With forms fo various, that no pow’rs of art,
The pencil or the pen, may trace the scene !
Here glitering turrets rise, upbearing high
(Fantastic misarrangement!) on the roof
Large growth of what may seem the sparkling trees
And shrubs of fairy land. The crystal drops
That trickle down the branches, fast congeald,
Shoot into pillars of pellucid.length,
And prop the pile they but adorn'd before..
Here grotto within grotto fafe defies
The sun-beam ; there, emboss’d and fretted wild,
The growing wonder takes a thousand shapes
Capricious, in which fancy seeks in vain
The likeness of some object seen before.
Thus nature works as if to mock at art,
And in defiance of her rival pow'rs;
By these fortuitous and random strokes ...
Performing such inimitable feats
As she with all her rules can never reach.
Less worthy of applause, though more admir'd,
Because a novelty, the work of man,
Imperial mistress of the fur-clad Russ!
Thy most magnificent and mighty freak
The wonder of the North. No forest fell