Nor dares a little bawling tongue be heard,
Tho’ but in play, to break upon his story.
The children sit and listen with the rest;
And should the youngest raise its little voice,
The careful mother, ever on the watch,
And always pleas’d with what her husband says,
Gives it a gentle tap upon the fingers,
Or stops its ill tim’d prattle with a kiss.
The soldier next, but not unask’d, begins,
And tells in better speech what he has seen;
Making his simple audience to shrink
With tales of war and blood. They gaze upon him,
And almost weep to see the man so poor,
So bent and feeble, helpless and forlorn,
That oft’ has stood undaunted in the battle
Whilst thund’ring cannons shook the quaking earth,
And showering bullets hiss’d around his head.
With little care they pass away the night,
Till time draws on when they should go to bed;
Then all break up, and each retires to rest
With peaceful mind, nor torn with vexing cares,
Nor dancing with the unequal beat of pleasure.
But long accustom’d to observe the weather,
The labourer cannot lay him down in peace
Till he has look’d to mark what bodes the night,
He turns the heavy door, thrusts out his head,
Sees wreathes of snow heap’d up on ev’ry side,
And black and grimily all above his head,
Save when a red gleam shoots along the waste
To make the gloomy night more terrible
Loud blows the northern blast——
He hears it hollow grumbling from afar,
Then, gath’ring strength, roll on with doubl’d might,
And break in dreadful bellowings o’er his head;
Like pithless saplings bend the vexed trees,
And their wide branches crack. He shuts the door,
And, thankful for the roof that covers him,
Hies him to bed.
The dark-blue clouds of night in dusky lines,
Drawn wide and streaky o’er the purer sky,
Wear faint the morning purple on their skirts.
The stars that full and bright shone in the west,
But dimly twinkle to the stedfast eye;
And seen, and vanishing, and seen again,
Like dying tapers smoth’ring in their sockets,
Appear at last shut from the face of heav’n;
Whilst every lesser flame which shone by night,
The flashy meteor from the op’ning cloud,
That shoots full oft’ across the dusky sky;
Or wand’ring fire which looks across the marsh,
Beaming like candle in a lonely cot,
To cheer the hopes of the benighted trav’ller,
Till swifter than the very change of thought,
It shifts from place to place, escapes his glance,
And makes him wond’ring rub his doubtful eyes;
Or humble glow-worm, or the silver moth,
Which cast a feeble glimm’ring o’er the green,
All die away.——
For now the sun, slow moving in his grandeur,
Above the eastern mountains lifts his head.
The webs of dew spread o’er the hoary lawn,
The smooth clear bosom of the settled pool,
The polish’d ploughshare on the distant field,
Catch fire from him, and dart their new got beams
Upon die dazzled eye.