Verse > Anthologies > > Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. > The Oxford Book of Victorian Verse
Arthur Quiller-Couch, comp.  The Oxford Book of Victorian Verse.  1922.
Two Long Vacations: Grasmere
By Arthur Gray Butler (1831–1909)
SEVEN we were, and two are gone:
  Two! What are those remaining?
Ghosts of the Past, with cloud o’ercast,
  Cloud that is always raining!
Ah me! Last year, when I came back,        5
  Like faithful hound returning
For old sake’s sake to each loved track,
  With heart and memory burning;
There was the knoll, there was the road,
  There was our humble dwelling;        10
There o’er the Raise of Dunmail showed
  The shoulder of Helvellyn;
And there the great heights black with cloud,
  Whence flow’d the white stream under;
And glens with echoing torrent loud,        15
  And cataracts’ distant thunder;
And seven men’s eyes looked dimly out
  Beneath our old house rafter;
And seven men’s forms crept round about
  With peals of ghostly laughter;        20
And sad yews dripp’d on the mossy stone;
  And fuchsia and rose grew rank;
And the woodbine wept as the rain pour’d on;
  And ferns spread over the bank;
And trees o’ergrown shut out the light        25
  Of Easedale’s cascade falling;
And hearing, after-born of sight,
  No longer heard it calling.
And no one cared: save only there
  Where flowers make silence sweet,        30
By pilgrims worn, that rocky stair!
  Look up! It is Wordsworth’s seat.
Where glass’d in those far-reaching eyes
  He read all nature plain;
And saw more things in earth and skies        35
  Than will ever be seen again.
There found he wealth, to others dearth,
  And peace, from a world’s wild din;
And, would we know the soul of earth,
  He bade us look within.        40
All else is changed. Yet rain may pour,
  Weeds spread, and all grow rotten;
But something lives from days of yore,
  Still fresh, still unforgotten:
The lamp of truth we lit in youth,        45
  The dreams of life’s young morning:
In that dark hour I found their power
  Still in the embers burning.
O vows, I cried, so oft denied,
  And you resolves forsaken,        50
Befriend me still! A new-born will
  Trusts in you newly taken.
But, how to live, O, tell me, friend,
  In age still wisdom gaining?
The clouds descend; ah, bid them blend        55
  With fires of youth remaining!

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