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WHAT AILS THIS HEART O' MINE.
What ails this heart o' mine?
What ails this watery ee? What gars me a' turn pale as death
When I take leave o' thee? When thou art far awa',
Thou 'it dearer grow to me; But change o' place and change o' folk
May gar thy fancy jee.
When I gae out at e'en,
Or walk at morning air,
I used to meet thee there.
Then I'll sit down and cry,
And live aneath the tree, And when a leaf fa's i' my lap,
I 'll ca' 't a word frae thee.
I '11 hie me to the bower
That thou wi' roses tied, And where wi' inony a blushing bud
I strove myself to hide. I 'll doat on ilka spot
Where I have been wi' thee; And ca' to mind some kindly word,
By ilka burn and tree.
[From The Farmer's Boy.]
Advancing Spring profusely spreads abroad
Flowers of all hues, with sweetest
fragrance stored; Where'er she treads Love gladdens
every plain, Delight on tiptoe bears her lucid
Sweet Hope with conscious brow before her flies,
Anticipating wealth from Summer skies;
All Nature feels her renovating sway; The sheep-fed pasture, and the
meadow gay; And trees, and shrubs, no longer
budding seen. Display the new-grown branch of
lighter green; On airy downs the idling shepherd
And sees to-morrow in the marbled
[From The Farmer's Boy.]
Anon tired laborers bless their
sheltering home, When midnight, and the frightful
tempest come. The farmer wakes, and sees, with
silent dread, The angry shafts of Heaven gleam
round his bed; The bursting cloud reiterated roars. Shakes his straw roof, and jars his
bolted doors: The slow-winged storm along the
troubled skies Spreads its dark course: the wind
begins to rise; And full-leafed elms, his dwelling's
shade by day, With mimic thunder give its fury
Sounds in the chimney-top a doleful peal
Midst pouring rain, or gusts of rattling hail;
With tenfold danger low the tempest bends,
And quick and strong the sulphurous flame descends:
The frightened mastiff from his kennel flies,
And cringes at the door with piteous cries. . . .
Where now's the trifler! where the
child of pride? These are the moments when the
heart is tried! Nor lives the man, with conscience
e'er so clear, But feels a solemn, reverential fear; Keels too a joy relieve his aching
When the spent storm hath howled itself to rest.
Still, welcome beats the long-continued shower,
And sleep protracted, comes with double power;
Calm dreams of bliss bring on the morning sun,
For every barn is filled, and Harvest done I
[From The Farmer's Boy.]
Hark! where the sweeping scythe now rips along: Each sturdy mower, emulous and strong.
Whose writhing form meridian heat defies,
Bends o'er his work, and every sinew tries:
Prostrates the waving treasure at his feet,
but spares the rising clover, short and sweet.
Come, Health! come, jollity! lightfooted, come;
Here hold your revels, and make this your home.
Each heart awaits and hails you as its own;
Each moistened brow, that scorns to wear a frown:
The unpeopled dwelling mourns its tenants strayed;
E'en the domestic laughing dairymaid
Hies to the field, the general toil to share.
Meanwhile the farmer quits his
elbow-chair, His cool brick floor, his pitcher, and
And braves the sultry beams, and
gladly sees His gates thrown open, and his team
The ready group attendant on his word,
To turn the Bwarth, the quivering
load to rear, Or ply the busy rake, the land to
Summer's light garb itself now cumbrous grown,
Each his thin doublet in the shade throws down;
Where oft the mastiff skulks with half-shut eye.
And rouses at the stranger passing by;
Whilst unrestrained the social converse flows,
And every breast Love's powerful impulse knows.
And rival wits with more than rustic grace
Confess the presence of a pretty face.
For, lo! encircled there, the lovely maid,
In youth's own bloom and native
smiles arrayed; Her hat awry, divested of her gown, Her creaking stays of leather, stout
and brown; — Invidious barrier! Why art thou so
When the slight covering of her neck slips by.
There half revealing to the eager sight,
Her full, ripe bosom, exquisitely white?
In many a local tale of harmless mirth,
And many a jest of momentary birth.
She bears a part, and as she stops to speak,
Strokes back the ringlets from her glowing cheek.
TO HIS MOTHER'S SPINDLE.
The hand that wore thee smooth is
cold, and spins No more! Debility pressed hard,
The seat of life, and terrors filled her brain, —
Nor causeless terrors. Giants grim
and bold. Three mighty ones she feared to
meet: — they came — Winter, Old Age, and Poverty,
— all came;
And when Death beheld Her tribulation, he fulfilled his task. And to her trembling hand and heart at once.
Cried. " Spin no more."—Thou then
wert left half filled With this soft downy fleece, such as
she wound through all her days, she who could
spin so well. Half filled wert thou — half finished
when she died! — Half finished? 'Tis the motto of
the world! We spin vain threads, and strive,
With sillier things than spindles on our hands!
Then feeling, as I do, resistlessly, The bias set upon my soul for verse; Oh, should old age still find my brain at work,
And Death, o'er some poor fragment
striding, cry "Hold! spin no more!" grant,
Heaven, that purity
Of thought and texture, may assimilate
That fragment unto thee, in usefulness,
In worth, and snowy innocence.
Then shall The village school-mistress, shine
brighter through The exit of her boy; and both shall
And virtue triumph too; and virtue's
Like Heaven's pure blessings, fall upon their grave.
LOVE OF THE COUNTRY. [Written at Clare Hall, Herts, June, 1804.1
Welcome, silence! welcome, peace!
Oh. most welcome, holy shade! Thus I prove, as years increase.
My heart and soul for quiet made. Thus I fix my firm belief
While rapture's rushing tears descend,
That every flower and every leaf
I would not for a world of gold
Fountain of blessings yet untold:
Fancy's fair buds, the germs of song, Unquickened midst the world's rude strife,
Shall sweet retirement render strong, And morning silence bring to life.
Then tell me not that I shall grow Forlorn, that fields and woods will cloy;
From Nature and her changes flow
I grant that summer heats will burn, That keen will come the frosty night;
But both shall please: and each in turn
Yield Reason's most supreme delight.
Build me a shrine, and I could kneel
Did I not see, did I not feel,
O Heaven, permit that I may lie
Where o'er my corse green branches wave;
And those who from life's tumult fly With kindred feelings, press my grave.
Dear Ellen, your tales are all plenteously stored
Of her chariots and dresses,
And worldly caresses,
These fields, my dear Ellen, I knew them of yore,
The distant bells ringing,
The birds round us singing,
He shouted and ran, as he leapt from the stile;
For love knows the blessing
Of ardent caressing,
George Henry Boker.
ODE TO A MOUNTAIN OAK.
Proud mountain giant, whose majestic face,
From thy high watch-tower on the
steadfast rock, looks calmly o'er the trees that
throng thy base, How long hast thou withstood the
Or bent thy ruffled brow, to let the gale
Steer its white, drifting sails just o'er thee?
Strong link 'twixt vanished ages! Thou hast a sage and reverend look;
As if life's struggle, through its varied stages, Were stamped on thee, as in a book.
Thou hast no voice to tell what thou
hast seen. Save a low moaning in thy troubled
And canst but point thy scars, and shake thy head,
With solemn warning, in the sunbeam's sheen;
And show how Time the mightiest thing bereaves,
By the sere leaves that rot upon thy bed.
Type of long-suffering power!
Even in my gayest hour, Thou 'dst still my tongue, and send
my spirit far, To wander in a labyrinth of thought; For thou hast waged with Time
unceasing war, And out of pain hast strength and
beauty brought. Thou amidst storms and tempests
hadst thy birth. Upon these bleak and scantly-shel
tering rocks. Nor much save storm and wrath
hast known on earth; Vet nobly hast thou bode the fiercest
That Circumstance can pour on patient Worth.
I see thee springing, in the vernal time,
A sapling weak, from out the barren stone.
To dance with May upon the mountain peak;
Pale leaves put forth to greet the genial clime.
And roots shot down life's sustenance to seek,
While mere existence was a joy alone — O thou wert happy then!
On summer's heat thy tinkling leaflets fed,
Each fibre toughened, and a little crown
Of green upon thy modest brow was spread,
To catch the rain, and shake it gently down.
But then came autumn, when Thy dry and tattered leaves fell dead;
And sadly on the gale
Drop'dst them, with a low, sad
On the cold, unfeeling stone. Next Winter seized thee in his iron grasp.
And shook thy bruised and straining form; Or locked thee in his icicle's cold clasp,
And piled upon thy head the shorn
cloud's snowy fleece. Wert thou not joyful, in this bitter
That the green honors, which erst
decked thy head, Sage Autumn's slow decay, had
mildly shed? Else, with their weight, they'd given
thy ills increase. And dragged thee helpless from thy
Year after year, in kind or adverse fate,
Thy branches stretched, and thy
young twigs put forth, Nor changed thy nature with the
season's date: Whether thou wrestled'st with the
gusty north. Or beat the driving rain to glittering
Or shook the snow-storm from thy
arms of might, Or drank the balmy dews on summer's night;— Laughing in sunshine, writhing in the storm. Yet wert thou still the same! Summer spread forth thy towering form. And Winter strengthened thy great frame. Achieving thy destiny On went'st thou sturdily, Shaking thy green flags in triumph and jubilee!