Recollections after a Ramble (VI)

[Image: 'Lots of life in a lovely meadow' - Carry Akroyd]

Sweet the birds did chant their songs,
Blackbird, linnet, lark, and thrush;
Music from a many tongues
Melted from each dripping bush:
Deafen'd echo, on the plain,
As the sunbeams broke the cloud,
Scarce could help repeat the strain,
Nature's anthem flow'd so loud.

What a fresh'ning feeling came,
As the sun's smile gleam'd again;
Summer seem'd no more the same,
Such a mildness swept the plain;
Breezes, such as one would seek,
Cooling infants of the shower,
Fanning sweet the burning cheek,
Trembled through the bramble-bower.

Insects of mysterious birth
Sudden struck my wondering sight,
Doubtless brought by moisture forth,
Hid in knots of spittle white;
Backs of leaves the burthen bear,
Where the sunbeams cannot stray,
"Wood seers" call'd, that wet declare,
So the knowing shepherds say.

As the cart-rut rippled down
With the burden of the rain,
Boys came drabbling from the town,
Glad to meet their sports again;
Stopping up the mimic rills,
Till they forc'd their frothy bound,
Then the keck made water-mills
In the current whisk'd around.

Recollections after a Ramble (V)

And full sweet it was to look,
How clouds misted o'er the hill,
Rain-drops how they dimp'd the brook,
Falling fast and faster still;
While the gudgeons darting by,
Cring'd 'neath water-grasses' shade,
Startling as each nimble eye
Saw the rings the dropples made.

And upon the dripping ground,
As the shower had ceas'd again,
As the eye was wandering round,
Trifling troubles caus'd a pain;
Overtaken in the shower,
Bumble-bees I wander'd by,
Clinging to The drowking flower,
Left without the power to fly:

And full often, drowning wet,
Scampering beetles rac'd away,
Safer shelter glad to get,
Flooded out from whence they lay:
While the moth, for night's reprief,
Waited safe and snug withal
'Neath the plantain's bowery leaf,
Where not e'en a drop could fall.

Then the clouds dispers'd again,
And full sweet it was to view
Sunbeams, trembling long in vain,
Now they 'gan to glimmer through:
And as labour strength regains
From ale's booning bounty given,
So reviv'd the fresh'ning plains
From the smiling showers of heaven.

Recollections after a Ramble (IV)

[Near Royce Wood, Helpston]
And as while I clomb the hill,
Many a distant charm I found;
Pausing on the lagging mill,
That scarcely mov'd its sails around:
Hanging o'er a gate or stile,
Till my curious eye did tire,
Leisure was employ'd awhile,
Counting many a peeping spire.

While the hot sun 'gan to wane,
Cooling glooms fast deep'ning still,
Refreshing greenness spread the plain,
As black clouds crept the southern hill;
Labour sought a sheltering place,
'Neath some thick wood-woven bower,
While odd rain-drops damp'd his face,
Heralds of the coming shower.

Where the oak-plank cross'd the stream,
Which the early-rising lass
Climbs with milk-pail gathering cream,
Crook'd paths tracking through the grass:
There, where willows hang their boughs,
Briars and blackthorns form'd a bower
Stunted thick by sheep and cows, -
There I stood to shun the shower.

Sweet it was to feel the breeze
Blowing cool without the sun,
Bumming gad-flies ceas'd to teaze,
All seem'd glad the shower to shun:
Sweet it was to mark the flower,
Rain-drops glist'ning on its head,
Perking up beneath the bower,
As if rising from the dead.

Good Friday

[Hares Chasing - Carry Akroyd]

The primrose looks happy in every field;
In strange woods the violets their odours will yield,
And flowers in the sunshine, all brightly arrayed,
Will bloom just as fresh and as sweet in the shade,
But the wild flowers that bring me most joy and content
Are the blossoms that glow where my childhood was spent.

The trees are all naked, the bushes are bare,
And the fields are as brown as if Winter was there;
But the violets are there by the dykes and the dell,
Where I played "hen and chickens" and heard the church bell,
Which called me to prayer-book and sermons in vain:
O when shall I see my own valleys again?

The churches look bright as the sun at noon-day;
There the meadows look green ere the winter's away;
There the pooty still lies for the schoolboy to find,
And a thought often brings these sweet places to mind;
Where trees waved and wind moaned; no music so well:
There nought sounded harsh but the school-calling bell.

(From 'My Schoolboy Days')

Recollections after a Ramble (III)

In the wood's deep shade did stand,
As I pass'd, the sticking-troop;
And Goody begg'd a helping hand
To heave her rotten faggot up:
The riding-gate, sharp jerking round,
Follow'd fast my heels again,
While echo mock'd the clapping sound,
And "clap, clap," sang the woods amain.

The wood is sweet -I love it well,
In spending there my leisure hours,
To seek the snail its painted shell,
And look about for curious flowers;
Or 'neath the hazel's leafy thatch,
On a stulp or mossy ground,
Little squirrel's gambols watch,
Dancing oak trees round and round.

Green was the shade -I love the woods,
When autumn's wind is mourning loud,
To see the leaves float on the floods,
Dead within their yellow shroud:
The wood was then in glory spread –
I love the browning bough to see
That litters autumn's dying bed –
Her latest sigh is dear to me.

'Neath a spreading shady oak
For awhile to muse I lay;
From its grains a bough I broke,
To fan the teasing flies away:
Then I sought the woodland side,
Cool the breeze my face did meet,
And the shade the sun did hide;
Though 'twas hot, it seemed sweet.

Recollections after a Ramble (II)

[Caster Hanglands]
Labour sought the water cool,
And stretching took a hearty sup,
The fish were playing in the pool,
And turn'd their milk-white bellies up;
Clothes laid down behind a bush
Boys were wading near the path,
Deeply did the maiden blush
As she pass'd the merry bath.

Some with lines the fish to catch,
Quirking boys let loose from school,
Others side the hedge-row watch,
Where the linnet took the wool:
'Tending Hodge had slept too fast,
While his cattle stray'd abroad,
Swift the freed horse gallop'd past,
Pattering down the stony road.

The gipsies' tune was loud and strong,
As round the camp they danc'd a jig,
And much I lov'd the brown girl's song,
While list'ning on the wooden brig;
The shepherd, he was on his rounds,
The dog stopt short to lap the stream,
And jingling in the fallow grounds
The ploughman urg'd his reeking team.

Often did I stop to gaze
On each spot once dear to me,
Known 'mong those remember'd days
Of banish'd, happy infancy:
Often did I view the shade
Where once a nest my eyes did fill,
And often mark'd the place I play'd
At "roly poly" down the hill.

Recollections after a Ramble (I)

[Clare's Cottage]

THE rosy day was sweet and young,
The clod-brown lark that hail'd the morn
Had just her summer anthem sung,
And trembling dropped in the corn;
The dew-rais'd flower was perk and proud,
The butterfly around it play'd;
The sky's blue clear, save woolly cloud
That pass'd the sun without a shade.

On the pismire's castle hill,
While the burnet-buttons quak'd,
While beside the stone-pav'd rill
Cowslip bunches nodding shak'd,
Bees in every peep did try,
Great had been the honey shower,
Soon their load was on their thigh,
Yellow dust as fine as flour.

Brazen magpies, fond of clack,
Full of insolence and pride,
Chattering on the donkey's back
Perch'd, and pull'd his shaggy hide;
Odd crows settled on the path,
Dames from milking trotting home
Said the sign foreboded wrath,
And shook their heads at ills to come.

While cows restless from the ground
Plung'd into the stream and drank,
And the rings went whirling round,
Till they touch'd the flaggy bank,
On the arch's wall I knelt,
Curious, as I often did,
To see the words the sculpture spelt,
But the moss its letters hid.

(to be continued)


I would not that my memory all should die,
And pass away with every common lot:
I would not that my humble dust should lie
In quite a strange and unfrequented spot,
By all unheeded and by all forgot,
With nothing save the heedless winds to sigh,
And nothing but the dewy morn to weep
About my grave, far hid from the world's eye:
I fain would have some friend to wander nigh
And find a path to where my ashes sleep--
Not the cold heart that merely passes by,
To read who lies beneath, but such as keep
Past memories warm with deeds of other years,
And pay to friendship some few friendly tears.

March [From Hone's 'Year Book']

[An Orange Tip - the archtype English Spring Butterfly]
The insect world, now sunbeams higher climb,
Oft dream of Spring, and wake before their time:
Bees stroke their little legs across their wings,
And venture short flights where the snow-drop hings
Its silver bell, and winter aconite
Its buttercup-like flowers that shut at night,
With green leaf furling round its cup of gold,
Like tender maiden muffled from the cold:
They sip and find their honey-dreams are vain,
Then feebly hasten to their hives again.
The butterflies, by eager hopes undone,
Glad as a child come out to greet the sun,
Beneath the shadows of a sunny shower
Are lost, nor see to-morrow's April flower.