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And other shepherds dwell with other mates,
By such examples taught I paint the cot
As Truth will paint it and as bards will not.
Nor you, ye poor, of lettered scorn complain:
To you the smoothest song is smooth in vain;
O'ercome by labour and bowed down by time,
Feel you the barren flattery of a rhyme?
Can poets soothe you, when you pine for bread,
By winding myrtles round your ruined shed?
Can their light tales your weighty griefs o'erpower,
Or glad with airy mirth the toilsome hour?
Turn to the watery world! But who to thee
(A wonder yet unviewed) shall paint-the sea?
Various and vast, sublime in all its forms,
When lulled by zephyrs or when roused by storms;
Its colours changing when from clouds and sun
Shades after shades upon the surface run;
Embrowned and horrid now, and now serene
In limpid blue and evanescent green;
And oft the foggy banks on ocean lie,
Lift the far sail, and cheat th' experienced eye.
Be it the summer noon: a sandy space
The ebbing tide has left upon its place;
Then, just the hot and stony beach above,
Light twinkling streams in bright confusion move
(For, heated thus, the warmer air ascends,
And with the cooler in its fall contends);
Then the broad bosom of the ocean keeps
An equal motion, swelling as it sleeps,
Then slowly sinking, curling to the strand,
Faint, lazy waves o'ercreep the ridgy sand,
Or tap the tarry boat with gentle blow,
And back return in silence, smooth and slow;
Ships in the calm seem anchored, for they glide
On the still sea, urged solely by the tide.
Art thou not present, this calm scene before,
Where all beside is pebbly length of shore,
And far as eye can reach it can discern no more?
Yet sometimes comes a ruffling cloud to make
The quiet surface of the ocean shake,
As an awakened giant with a frown
Might show his wrath and then to sleep sink down.
View now the winter storm! Above, one cloud,
Black and unbroken, all the skies o'ershroud;
Th' unwieldy porpoise through the day before
Had rolled in view of boding men on shore,
And sometimes hid and sometimes showed his form,
Dark as the cloud and furious as the storm.
All where the eye delights yet dreads to roam,
The breaking billows cast the flying foam
Upon the billows rising; all the deep
Is restless change, the waves so swelled and steep
Breaking and sinking, and the sunken swells,
Nor one, one moment, in its station dwells.
But nearer land you may the billows trace,
As if contending in their watery chase,
May watch the mightiest till the shoal they reach,
Then break and hurry to their utmost stretch;
Curled as they come, they strike with furious force,
And then, re-flowing, take their grating course,
Raking the rounded flints, which ages past
Rolled by their rage, and shall to ages last.
Far off the petrel in the troubled way
Swims with her brood or flutters in the spray;
She rises often, often drops again,
And sports at ease on the tempestuous main.
High o'er the restless deep, above the reach
Of gunner's hope, vast flights of wild ducks stretch;
Far as the eye can glance on either side,
In a broad space and level line they glide;
All in their wedge-like figures from the north,
Day after day, flight after flight, go forth.
Inshore their passage tribes of sea-gulls urge,
And drop for prey within the sweeping surge;
Oft in the rough opposing blast they fly
Far back, then turn and all their force apply,
While to the storm they give their weak complaining cry;
Or clap the sleek white pinion to the breast,
And in the restless ocean dip for rest.
Darkness begins to reign. The louder wind
Appals the weak and awes the firmer mind;
But frights not him whom evening and the spray
In part conceal-yon prowler on his way:
Lo! he has something seen; he runs apace,
As if he feared companion in the chase;
He sees his prize, and now he turns again,
Slowly and sorrowing. "Was your search in vain?"
Gruffly he answers, "'T is a sorry sight!
A seaman's body: there'll be more to-night!"
Hark to those sounds! they're from distress at sea.
How quick they come! What terrors may there be!
Yes, 't is a driven vessel: I discern
Lights, signs of terror, gleaming from the stern.
Others behold them too, and from the town
In various parties seamen hurry down.
Their wives pursue and damsels, urged by dread
Lest men so dear be into danger led:
Their head the gown has hooded, and their call
In this sad night is piercing like the squall;
They feel their kinds of power, and, when they meet,
Chide, fondle, weep, dare, threaten, or intreat.
See! one poor girl, all terror and alarm,
Has fondly seized upon her lover's arm:
"Thou shalt not venture!" and he answers, "No,
I will not"-still she cries, "Thou shalt not go!"
No need of this: not here the stoutest boat
Can through such breakers, o'er such billows float;
Yet may they view these lights upon the beach,
Which yield them hope whom help can never reach.
From parted clouds the moon her radiance throws
On the wild waves, and all the danger shows;
But shows them beaming in her shining vest,
Terrific splendour! gloom in glory drest!
This for a moment; and then clouds again
Hide every beam, and fear and darkness reign.
But hear we now those sounds? Do lights appear?
I see them not! the storm alone I hear!
And, lo, the sailors homeward take their way:
Man must endure-let us submit and pray.
Old Peter Grimes made fishing his employ;
His wife he cabined with him and his boy,
And seemed that life laborious to enjoy.
To town came quiet Peter with his fish,
And had of all a civil word and wish.
He left his trade upon the Sabbath day,
And took young Peter in his hand to pray:
But soon the stubborn boy from care broke loose,
At first refused, then added his abuse;
His father's love he scorned, his power defied,
But, being drunk, wept sorely when he died.
Yes, then he wept, and to his mind there came
Much of his conduct, and he felt the shame :-
How he had oft the good old man reviled,
And never paid the duty of a child;
How, when the father in his Bible read,
He in contempt and anger left the shed:
"It is the word of life," the parent cried;
"This is the life itself," the boy replied,
And, while old Peter in amazement stood,
Gave the hot spirit to his boiling blood:-
How he, with oath and furious speech, began
To prove his freedom and assert the man;
And when the parent checked his impious rage,
How he had cursed the tyranny of age-
Nay, once had dealt the sacrilegious blow
On his bare head and laid his parent low;
The father groaned; "If thou art old," said he,
"And hast a son-thou wilt remember me;
Thy mother left me in an happy time,
Thou kill'dst not her-Heav'n spares the double crime."
On an inn-settle, in his maudlin grief,
This he revolved, and drank for his relief.
Now lived the youth in freedom, but debarred
From constant pleasure, and he thought it hard;
Hard that he could not every wish obey,
But must awhile relinquish ale and play;
Hard that he could not to his cards attend,
But must acquire the money he would spend.
With greedy eye he looked on all he saw;
He knew not justice, and he laughed at law:
On all he marked he stretched his ready hand;
He fished by water, and he filched by land.
Oft in the night has Peter dropped his oar,
Fled from his boat, and sought for prey on shore;
Oft up the hedge-row glided, on his back
Bearing the orchard's produce in a sack,
Or farm-yard load, tugged fiercely from the stack;
And as these wrongs to greater numbers rose,
The more he looked on all men as his foes.
He built a mud-walled hovel, where he kept
His various wealth, and there he oft-times slept.
But no success could please his cruel soul:
He wished for one to trouble and control;
He wanted some obedient boy to stand
And bear the blow of his outrageous hand,
And hoped to find in some propitious hour
A feeling creature subject to his power.
Peter had heard there were in London then-
Still have they being!-workhouse-clearing men,
Who, undisturbed by feelings just or kind,
Would parish-boys to needy tradesmen bind;
They in their want a trifling sum would take,
And toiling slaves of piteous orphans make.
Such Peter sought; and when a lad was found,
The sum was dealt him, and the slave was bound.
Some few in town observed in Peter's trap
A boy, with jacket blue and woollen cap:
But none enquired how Peter used the rope,
Or what the bruise that made the stripling stoop;
None could the ridges on his back behold,
None sought him shiv'ring in the winter's cold;
None put the question, "Peter, dost thou give
The boy his food? What, man, the lad must live!
Consider, Peter: let the child have bread;
He'll serve thee better if he's stroked and fed."