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Poem by William Watson
In Laleham Churchyard
(AUGUST 18, 1890) 'Twas at this season, year by year, The singer who lies songless here Was wont to woo a less austere, Less deep repose, Where Rotha to Winandermere Unresting flows,— Flows through a land where torrents call To far-off torrents as they fall, And mountains in their cloudy pall Keep ghostly state, And Nature makes majestical Man's lowliest fate. There, 'mid the August glow, still came He of the twice-illustrious name, The loud impertinence of fame Not loth to flee— Not loth with brooks and fells to claim Fraternity. Linked with his happy youthful lot, Is Loughrigg, then, at last forgot? Nor silent peak nor dalesman's cot Looks on his grave. Lulled by the Thames he sleeps, and not By Rotha's wave. 'Tis fittest thus! for though with skill He sang of beck and tarn and ghyll, The deep, authentic mountain-thrill Ne'er shook his page! Somewhat of worldling mingled still With bard and sage. And 'twere less meet for him to lie Guarded by summits lone and high That traffic with the eternal sky And hear, unawed, The everlasting fingers ply The loom of God, Than, in this hamlet of the plain, A less sublime repose to gain, Where Nature, genial and urbane, To man defers, Yielding to us the right to reign, Which yet is hers. And nigh to where his bones abide, The Thames with its unruffled tide Seems like his genius typified,— Its strength, its grace, Its lucid gleam, its sober pride, Its tranquil pace. But ah! not his the eventual fate Which doth the journeying wave await— Doomed to resign its limpid state And quickly grow Turbid as passion, dark as hate, And wide as woe. Rather, it may be, over-much He shunned the common stain and smutch, From soilure of ignoble touch Too grandly free, Too loftily secure in such Cold purity. But he preserved from chance control The fortress of his 'stablisht soul; In all things sought to see the Whole; Brooked no disguise; And set his heart upon the goal, Not on the prize. With those Elect he shall survive Who seem not to compete or strive, Yet with the foremost still arrive, Prevailing still: Spirits with whom the stars connive To work their will. And ye, the baffled many, who, Dejected, from afar off view The easily victorious few Of calm renown,— Have ye not your sad glory too, And mournful crown? Great is the facile conqueror; Yet haply he, who, wounded sore, Breathless, unhorsed, all covered o'er With blood and sweat, Sinks foiled, but fighting evermore,— Is greater yet.
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