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TO THE LADY FLEMING

ON SEEING THE FOUNDATION PREPARING FOR THE ERECTION OF RYDAL CHAPEL, WESTMORELAND

                                   I

          BLEST is this Isle--our native Land;
          Where battlement and moated gate
          Are objects only for the hand
          Of hoary Time to decorate;
          Where shady hamlet, town that breathes
          Its busy smoke in social wreaths,
          No rampart's stern defence require,
          Nought but the heaven-directed spire,
          And steeple tower (with pealing bells
          Far-heard)--our only citadels.

                                   II

          O Lady! from a noble line
          Of chieftains sprung, who stoutly bore
          The spear, yet gave to works divine
          A bounteous help in days of yore,
          (As records mouldering in the Dell
          Of Nightshade haply yet may tell;)
          Thee kindred aspirations moved
          To build, within a vale beloved,
          For Him upon whose high behests
          All peace depends, all safety rests.

                                  III

          How fondly will the woods embrace
          This daughter of thy pious care,
          Lifting her front with modest grace
          To make a fair recess more fair;
          And to exalt the passing hour;
          Or soothe it with a healing power
          Drawn from the Sacrifice fulfilled,
          Before this rugged soil was tilled,
          Or human habitation rose
          To interrupt the deep repose!

                                   IV

          Well may the villagers rejoice!
          Nor heat, nor cold, nor weary ways,
          Will be a hindrance to the voice
          That would unite in prayer and praise;
          More duly shall wild wandering Youth
          Receive the curb of sacred truth,
          Shall tottering Age, bent earthward, hear
          The Promise, with uplifted ear;
          And all shall welcome the new ray
          Imparted to their sabbath-day.

                                   V

          Nor deem the Poet's hope misplaced,
          His fancy cheated--that can see
          A shade upon the future cast,
          Of time's pathetic sanctity;
          Can hear the monitory clock
          Sound o'er the lake with gentle shock
          At evening, when the ground beneath
          Is ruffled o'er with cells of death;
          Where happy generations lie,
          Here tutored for eternity.

                                   VI

          Lives there a man whose sole delights
          Are trivial pomp and city noise,
          Hardening a heart that loathes or slights
          What every natural heart enjoys?
          Who never caught a noon-tide dream
          From murmur of a running stream;
          Could strip, for aught the prospect yields
          To him, their verdure from the fields;
          And take the radiance from the clouds
          In which the sun his setting shrouds.

                                  VII

          A soul so pitiably forlorn,
          If such do on this earth abide,
          May season apathy with scorn,
          May turn indifference to pride;
          And still be not unblest--compared
          With him who grovels, self-debarred
          From all that lies within the scope
          Of holy faith and christian hope;
          Or, shipwrecked, kindles on the coast
          False fires, that others may be lost.

                                  VIII

          Alas! that such perverted zeal
          Should spread on Britain's favoured ground!
          That public order, private weal,
          Should e'er have felt or feared a wound
          From champions of the desperate law
          Which from their own blind hearts they draw;
          Who tempt their reason to deny
          God, whom their passions dare defy,
          And boast that they alone are free
          Who reach this dire extremity!

                                   IX

          But turn we from these "bold bad" men;
          The way, mild Lady! that hath led
          Down to their dark opprobrious den,"
          Is all too rough for Thee to tread.
          Softly as morning vapours glide
          Down Rydal-cove from Fairfield's side,
          Should move the tenor of 'his' song
          Who means to charity no wrong;
          Whose offering gladly would accord
          With this day's work, in thought and word.

                                   X

          Heaven prosper it! may peace, and love,
          And hope, and consolation, fall,
          Through its meek influence, from above,
          And penetrate the hearts of all;
          All who, around the hallowed Fane,
          Shall sojourn in this fair domain;
          Grateful to Thee, while service pure,
          And ancient ordinance, shall endure,
          For opportunity bestowed
          To kneel together, and adore their God!
                                                              1823.


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