Lines Written upon Doulting Sheep-Slate

John Edmund Reade

near Shepton Mallet, Somersetshire.

I knelt down as I poured my spirit forth by that gray gate,
In the fulness of my gratitude and with a joy sedate;
Alone on that wild heath I stood, and offered up apart
The frankincense of love that, fount-like, gushed from my deep heart.

And while I breathed that thankfulness, and felt its holy glow,
And my heart gathered gladness in its calm and equal flow,
Wliile the sun shone within me, and the air elastic played,
And to and fro the wheat-field like the wavy ocean swayed;

And while the black firs tossed their boughs against the intense blue,
Light glinting on the grassy sward as broken rays flashed through,
I felt that nature answered like an angel from her throne,
And echoed back the rapture of my bosom from her own.

I saw the rich red pathway in the opening distance rolled,
As if it led through vistas to some throne or shore of gold,
And while the light breeze murmured there like sighs of love suppressed,
My heart poured forth its blessing on the loveliness it blessed.

I felt I stood on sacred ground that hallowed was to me,
To boyhood's years far faded on the verge of memory:
Sacred to me the gray-haired man who drank God's blessed air,
Though thirty years had rolled away since last I entered there!

The oak drooped o'er that gate, a withered thing in dead repose.
Gray Doulting's spire above the waste a sheeted spectre rose;
And Mendip's bleak and barren heights again enclosed me round,
Like faces of forgotten friends met on forgotten ground.

But heath and landscape, boundless once, were shrunken: all was changed:
I felt I stood a stranger there, the place and me estranged:
Each glance was memory-, each step a joy, a welcome sense
Of gratitude's fine ecstasy, calm, voiceless, but intense.

All stirring impulses of life were sobered by the scene,
While staid Reflection looked within the glass of what had been;
For not a mound I trod upon was unforgot, nor tree
Rose in that surging scene whose image had not entered me.