But, mid their drink and clatter, he would fly:
And I myself seem half to know thy looks,
put the shepherds, Wanderer, on thy trace;
And boys who in lone wheatfields scare the rooks
I ask if thou
hast passd their quiet place;
Or in my boat I lie
Moord to the cool bank in the summer heats,
grass meadows which the sunshine fills,
And watch the warm green-muffled Cumner hills,
And wonder if
thou hauntst their shy retreats.
For most, I know, thou lovst retiràed ground.
Thee, at the ferry, Oxford riders blithe,
home on summer nights, have met
Crossing the stripling Thames at Bablock-hithe,
Trailing in the cool
stream thy fingers wet,
As the slow punt swings round:
And leaning backwards in a pensive dream,
fostering in thy lap a heap of flowers
Pluckd in shy fields and distant Wychwood bowers,
And thine eyes
resting on the moonlit stream:
And then they land, and thou art seen no more.
Maidens who from the distant hamlets come
dance around the Fyfield elm in May,
Oft through the darkening fields have seen thee roam,
Or cross a
stile into the public way.
Oft thou hast given them store
Of flowersthe frail-leafd, white anemone
bluebells drenchd with dews of summer eves,
And purple orchises with spotted leaves
But none has
words she can report of thee.
And, above Godstow Bridge, when hay-times here
In June, and many a scythe in sunshine
Men who through those wide fields of breezy grass
Whereblack-wingd swallows haunt the glittering
To bathe in the abandond lasher pass,
Have often passd thee near
Sitting upon the river bank
Markd thine outlandish garb, thy figure spare,
Thy dark vague eyes, and soft abstracted air;
when they came from bathing, thou wert gone.
At some lone homestead in the Cumner hills,
Where at her open door the housewife darns,
hast been seen, or hanging on a gate
To watch the threshers in the mossy barns.
Children, who early
range these slopes and late
For cresses from the rills,
Have known thee watching, all an April day,
springing pastures and the feeding kine;
And markd thee, when the stars come out and shine,
the long dewy grass move slow away.
In autumn, on the skirts of Bagley Wood,
Where most the Gipsies by the turf-edged way
their smoked tents, and every bush you see
With scarlet patches taggd and shreds of gray,
forest-ground calld Thessaly
The blackbird picking food
Sees thee, nor stops his meal, nor fears at
So often has he known thee past him stray
Rapt, twirling in thy hand a witherd spray,
And waiting for
the spark from Heaven to fall.
And once, in winter, on the causeway chill
Where home through flooded fields foot-travellers
Have I not passd thee on the wooden bridge
Wrapt in thy cloak and battling with the snow,
towards Hinksey and its wintry ridge?
And thou hast climbd the hill
And gaind the white brow of the Cumner
Turnd once to watch, while thick the snowflakes fall,
The line of festal light in Christ Church hall
sought thy straw in some sequesterd grange.
But whatI dream! Two hundred years are flown
Since first thy story ran through Oxford
And the grave Glanvil did the tale inscribe
That thou wert wanderd from the studious walls
strange arts, and join a Gipsy-tribe:
And thou from earth art gone
Long since, and in some quiet churchyard
Some country nook, where oer thy unknown grave
Tall grasses and white flowering nettles wave
a dark red-fruited yew-trees shade.
No, no, thou hast not felt the lapse of hours.
For what wears out the life of mortal men?
that from change to change their being rolls:
Tis that repeated shocks, again, again,
Exhaust the energy
of strongest souls,
And numb the elastic powers.
Till having used our nerves with bliss and teen,
upon a thousand schemes our wit,
To the just-pausing Genius we remit
Our worn-out life, and arewhat
we have been.