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THE DANISH BOY

A FRAGMENT

                                   I

          BETWEEN two sister moorland rills
          There is a spot that seems to lie
          Sacred to flowerets of the hills,
          And sacred to the sky.
          And in this smooth and open dell
          There is a tempest-stricken tree;
          A corner-stone by lightning cut,
          The last stone of a lonely hut;
          And in this dell you see
          A thing no storm can e'er destroy,
          The shadow of a Danish Boy.

                                   II

          In clouds above, the lark is heard,
          But drops not here to earth for rest;
          Within this lonesome nook the bird
          Did never build her nest.
          No beast, no bird hath here his home;
          Bees, wafted on the breezy air,
          Pass high above those fragrant bells
          To other flowers:--to other dells
          Their burthens do they bear;
          The Danish Boy walks here alone:
          The lovely dell is all his own.

                                  III

          A Spirit of noon-day is he;
          Yet seems a form of flesh and blood;
          Nor piping shepherd shall he be,
          Nor herd-boy of the wood.
          A regal vest of fur he wears,
          In colour like a raven's wing;
          It fears not rain, nor wind, nor dew;
          But in the storm 'tis fresh and blue
          As budding pines in spring;
          His helmet has a vernal grace,
          Fresh as the bloom upon his face.

                                   IV

          A harp is from his shoulder slung;
          Resting the harp upon his knee,
          To words of a forgotten tongue
          He suits its melody.
          Of flocks upon the neighbouring hill
          He is the darling and the joy;
          And often, when no cause appears,
          The mountain-ponies prick their ears,
          --They hear the Danish Boy,
          While in the dell he sings alone
          Beside the tree and corner-stone.

                                   V

          There sits he; in his face you spy
          No trace of a ferocious air,
          Nor ever was a cloudless sky
          So steady or so fair.
          The lovely Danish Boy is blest
          And happy in his flowery cove:
          From bloody deeds his thoughts are far;
          And yet he warbles songs of war,
          That seem like songs of love,
          For calm and gentle is his mien;
          Like a dead Boy he is serene.
                                                              1799.


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