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Posts Tagged ‘Ruth’

My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains
My sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk,
Or emptied some dull opiate to the drains
One minute past, and Lethe-wards had sunk:
‘Tis not through envy of thy happy lot,
But being too happy in thine happiness,—
……That thou, light-winged Dryad of the trees
………In some melodious plot
Of beechen green, and shadows numberless,
……Singest of summer in full-throated ease.

O, for a draught of vintage! that hath been
Cool’d a long age in the deep-delved earth,
Tasting of Flora and the country green,
Dance, and Provençal song, and sunburnt mirth!
O for a beaker full of the warm South,
Full of the true, the blushful Hippocrene,
……With beaded bubbles winking at the brim,
………And purple-stained mouth;
That I might drink, and leave the world unseen,
……And with thee fade away into the forest dim:

Fade far away, dissolve, and quite forget
What thou among the leaves hast never known,
The weariness, the fever, and the fret
Here, where men sit and hear each other groan;
Where palsy shakes a few, sad, last gray hairs,
Where youth grows pale, and spectre-thin, and dies;
……Where but to think is to be full of sorrow
………And leaden-eyed despairs,
Where Beauty cannot keep her lustrous eyes,
……Or new Love pine at them beyond to-morrow.

Away! away! for I will fly to thee,
Not charioted by Bacchus and his pards,
But on the viewless wings of Poesy,
Though the dull brain perplexes and retards:
Already with thee! tender is the night,
And haply the Queen-Moon is on her throne,
……Cluster’d around by all her starry Fays;
………But here there is no light,
Save what from heaven is with the breezes blown
……Through verdurous glooms and winding mossy ways.

I cannot see what flowers are at my feet,
Nor what soft incense hangs upon the boughs,
But, in embalmed darkness, guess each sweet
Wherewith the seasonable month endows
The grass, the thicket, and the fruit-tree wild;
White hawthorn, and the pastoral eglantine;
……Fast fading violets cover’d up in leaves;
………And mid-May’s eldest child,
The coming musk-rose, full of dewy wine,
……The murmurous haunt of flies on summer eves.

Darkling I listen; and, for many a time
I have been half in love with easeful Death,
Call’d him soft names in many a mused rhyme,
To take into the air my quiet breath;
Now more than ever seems it rich to die,
To cease upon the midnight with no pain,
……While thou art pouring forth thy soul abroad
……..In such an ecstasy!
Still wouldst thou sing, and I have ears in vain—
……To thy high requiem become a sod.

Thou wast not born for death, immortal Bird!
No hungry generations tread thee down;
The voice I hear this passing night was heard
In ancient days by emperor and clown:
Perhaps the self-same song that found a path
Through the sad heart of Ruth, when, sick for home,
……She stood in tears amid the alien corn;
………The same that oft-times hath
Charm’d magic casements, opening on the foam
…….Of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn.

Forlorn! the very word is like a bell
To toll me back from thee to my sole self!
Adieu! the fancy cannot cheat so well
As she is fam’d to do, deceiving elf.
Adieu! adieu! thy plaintive anthem fades
Past the near meadows, over the still stream,
……Up the hill-side; and now ’tis buried deep
………In the next valley-glades:
Was it a vision, or a waking dream?
……Fled is that music:—Do I wake or sleep?

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The Great Jehovah speaks to us,
In Genesis and Exodus,
Leviticus and Numbers see,
Followed by Deuteronomy,
Joshua and Judges sway the land,
Ruth gleans a sheaf with trembling hand,
Samuel and numerous Kings appear,
Whose Chronicles we wondering hear;
Ezra and Nehemiah now
Esther the beauteous mourner show;
Job speaks in sighs, David in Psalms,
The Proverbs teach to scatter alms.
Ecclesiastes then comes on,
And the sweet song of Solomon.
Isaiah, Jeremiah then
With Lamentations takes his pen.
Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea’s lyres
Swell Joel, Amos, Obadiah’s.
Next Jonah, Micah, Nahum come,
And lofty Habakkuk finds room,
Rapt Zephaniah, Haggai calls,
While Zechariah builds the walls;
And Malachi, with garments rent,
Concludes the ancient Testament.

 

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In the sweet shire of Cardigan,
Not far from pleasant Ivor Hall,
An old man dwells, a little man, –
‘T is said he once was tall.
Full five-and-thirty years he lived
A running huntsman merry;
And still the center of his cheek
Is red as a ripe cherry.

No man like him the horn could sound,
And hill and valley rang with glee,
When Echo bandied, round and round,
The halloo of Simon Lee.
In those proud days he little cared
For husbandry or tillage;
To blither tasks did Simon rouse
The sleepers of the village.

He all the country could outrun,
Could leave both man and horse behind;
And often, ere the chase was done,
He reel’d and was stone-blind.
And still there’s something in the world
At which his heart rejoices;
For when the chiming hounds are out,
He dearly loves their voices.

But oh the heavy change! – bereft
Of health, strength, friends and kindred, see!
Old Simon to the world is left
In liveried poverty: –
His master’s dead, and no one now
Dwells in the Hall of Ivor;
Men, dogs, and horses, all are dead;
He is the sole survivor.

And he is lean and he is sick,
His body, dwindled and awry,
Rests upon ankles swoln and thick;
His legs are thin and dry.
One prop he has, and only one, –
His wife, an aged woman,
Lives with him, near the waterfall,
Upon the village common.

Beside their moss-grown hut of clay,
Not twenty paces to the door,
A scrap of land they have, but they
Are poorest of the poor.
This scrap of land he from the heath
Enclosed when he was stronger;
But what to them avails the land
Which he can till no longer?

Oft, working by her husband’s side,
Ruth does what Simon cannot do;
For she, with scanty cause for pride,
Is stouter of the two.
And, though you with your utmost skill
From labor could not wean them,
‘T is little, very little, all
That they can do between them.

Few months of life has he in store
As he to you will tell,
For still, the more he works, the more
Do his weak ankles swell.
My gentle Reader, I perceive
How patiently you’ve waited,
And now I fear that you expect
Some tale will be related.

O Reader! had you in your mind
Such stores as silent thought can bring,
O gentle Reader! you would find
A tale in every thing.
What more I have to say is short,
And you must kindly take it:
It is no tale; but, should you think,
Perhaps a tale you’ll make it.

One summer-day I chanced to see
This old Man doing all he could
To unearth the root of an old tree,
A stump of rotten wood.
The mattock totter’d in his hand;
So vain was his endeavor
That at the root of the old tree
He might have work’d for ever.

“You’ve overtask’d, good Simon Lee,
Give me your tool,” to him I said;
And at the word right gladly he
Received my proffer’d aid.
I struck, and with a single blow
The tangled root I sever’d,
At which the poor old man so long
And vainly had endeavor’d.

The tears into his eyes were brought,
And thanks and praises seem’d to run
So fast out of his heart, I thought
They never would have done.
-I’ve heard of hearts unkind, kind deed
With coldness still returning;
Alas! the gratitude of men
Hath oftener left me mourning.

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