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THE TASK.

BOOK VI.

THE WINTER WALK AT NOON.

There is in souls a sympathy with sounds ;
And, as the mind is pitch'd, the car is pleas'd
With melting airs, or martial, brisk, or grave:
Some chord in unison with what we hear
Is touch'd within us, and the heart replies
How soft the music of those village bells,
Falling at intervals upon the ear
In cadence sweet, now dying all away,
Now pealing loud again, and louder still,
Clear and sonorous, as the gale comes on!
With easy force it opens all the cells
Where mem'ry slept. Wherever I have heard
A kindred melody, the scene recurs,

And with it all its pleasures and its pains. Such comprehensive views the spirit takes, That in a few short moments I retrace (As in a map the voyager bis course) The windings of my way through many years. Short as in retrospect the journey seems, It seem'd not always short; the rugged path,' And prospect oft so dreary and forlorn, Mov'd many a figh at its disheart'ning length. Yet, feeling present evils, while the past Faintly impress the mind, or not at all, How readily we wish time spent revok’d, That we might try the ground again, where once (Through inexperience, as we now perceive) We miss'd that happiness we might have found ! Some friend is gone, perhaps his son's best friend! A father, whose authority, in show When most severe, and must'ring all its force, Was but the graver countenance of love ! Whose favour, like the clouds of spring, might low's, And utter now and then an awful voice, But had a blessing in its darkest frown, Threat’ning at once and nourishing the plant. We lov’d, but not enough, the gentle hand That rear'd us. At a thoughtless age, allur'd By ev'ry gilded folly, we renounc'd

His shelt'ring fide, aod wilfully forewent
That converse which we now in vain regret.
How gladly would the man recall to life
The boy's neglected fire! a mother too,
That softer friend, perhaps more gladly ftill,
Might he demand them at the gates of death.
Sorrow has, since they went, fubdu'd and tam’d
The playful humour; he could now endure
(Himself grown fober in the vale of tears)
And feel a parent's presence no restraint.
But not to underftand a treasure's worth
Till time has stol'n away the flighted

good,
Is cause of half the poverty we feel,
And makes the world the wilderness it is.
The few
that
pray pray

oft amiss, And, seeking grace t’improve the prize they hold, Would urge a wiser suit than asking more.

at all

The night was winter in his roughest mood; The morning sharp and clear. But now at noon, Upon the southern side of the slant bills, And where the woods fence off the northern blast, The season smiles, resigning all its rage, And has the warmth of May. The vault is blue Without a cloud, and white without a speck The dazzling splendour of the scene below.

Again the harmony comes o'er the vale ;
And through the trees I view th’embattled tow'r
Whence all the music. I again perceive
The foothing influence of the wafted strains,
And settle in soft musings as I tread
The walk, still verdant, under oaks and elms,
Whose outspread branches overarch the glade.
The roof, though moveable through all its length
As the wind sways it, has yet well suffic’d,
And, intercepting in their filent fall
The frequent flakes has kept a path for me.
No noise is here, or none that hinders thought.
The red-breast warbles still, but is content
With Nender notes, and more than half suppress’d:
Pleas'd with his folitude, and fitting light
From spray to spray, where'er he rests he shakes
From many a twig the pendent drops of ice,
That tinkle in the wither'd leaves below.
Stillness, accompanied with sounds so soft,
Charms more than filence. Méditation here
May think down hours to moments. Here the heart
May give an ufeful lesson to the head,
And learning wiser grow without his books.
Knowledge and wisdom, far from being one,
Have oft-times no connection. Knowledge dwells
In heads replete with thoughts of other men;

Wisdom in minds attentive to their own.
Knowledge, a rude unprofitable mass,
The mere materials with which wisdom builds,
Till smooth'd and squar'd, and fitted to its place,
Does but encumber whom it seems ťenrich.
Knowledge is proud that he has learn'd so much;
Wisdom is humble that he knows no more.
Books are not seldom talismans and spells,
By which the magic art of shrewder wits
Holds an unthinking multitude enthrallid.
Some to the fascination of a name
Surrender judgment, hood-wink'd. Some the style
Infatuates, and through labyrioths and wilds
Of error leads them by a tune entranc'd.
While sloth seduces more, too weak to bear -
The insupportable fatigue of thought,
And swallowing, therefore, without pause or choice,
The total grist unsifted, hulks and all.
But trees, and rivulets whose rapid course
Defies the check of winter, haunts of deer,
And sheep-walks populous with bleating lambs,
And lanes in which the primrose ere her time
Peeps through the moss that clothes the hawthorn roots
Deceive no student. Wisdom there, and truth,
Not shy, as in the world, and to be won

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