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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 12

Malvern in the Mist

Malvern in the Mist.

By John Harris, Author of "A Story of Carn Brea," The Shaksperian Prize Poem, etc.

Ho, ho, great Malvern! wherefore art thou wroth
In thy mist-mantle? I have travelled far
In hope to see thee with a face as bright
As my own mounds, with mineral-treasures full,
The pride of old Cornubia: but, alack!
Thou'rt mourning in thy fog-shroud, and we climb
As if the daylight were but half begun,
Though it is noon, the ploughman's dinner-hour.

Full suddenly, under the dark trees hid,
We came upon a troop of noisy boys,
With patient donkeys saddled skillfully;
And dinning was their native eloquence,
That we should hire them. "Take my donkey, sir:
My donkey has been eating oats to-day.
A fine beast mine! he'll bear you to the top
Without a hoof-slip. Try my donkey sir.
That fellow's neddy is so lean on straw:
He has nought else: mine has the finest food.
How sleek his sides! and what an eye is his!
How glossy is his coat! Just stroke him down.
Look at his ears. Please take my donkey, sir."
And thus they piped away with voices high.
But long had we been journeying on by train.
Drawn by the horse of iron, and were glad
To press our feet upon the earth once more.

We leave them in the mist, and clamber on,
And when a few feet higher than the Well
Of good St. Anne, with sudden, swift delight,
We mount above the fog, and the clear sky
Cloudless and blue, is sun-full over head.
It was a joy that will not pass away.

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How like the Christian journeying sadly on
He soars above the mist, and feels the Sun,
And treads the darkness underneath his feet.
We saw a little robin on a bough
Open his beak and sing deliciously,
While under him the fog-world sank, and rose,
And heaved, and swelled, like a huge billowry sea.

Higher we rose, and higher, and the sun
Shone brighter still, and everything was grand.
O, what a throne for bard to rest upon,
The bare hill-top so far away from wrong!
Why every hollow has a harper in't
And health is here reposing on the moss.
City and village, river-face and fen,
Forest and field, on this side and on that
Gladden the vision, standing nearer heaven.
May never war-cloud blacken such a scene,
Now brooded over by the nymph of peace!
Seek we for music? here it rolls along
From Nature's organ in a sea of praise:
Seek we for health? the four winds waft it here,
In urns of nectar opened on the height:
For solitude and rest? each grassy rift
Is full of murmurs never heard below.

O, Malvern! Malvern! lonely in thy life
Of silent wonder, to the solemn sky
Lifting thy forehead, catching the first ray
Of early morning, and the last of eve,
I thank thee for thy favours. The small mounds
I love so well along my Cornish coast,
With heath, and rush, and rock-heap beautiful,
Were mole hills by thy side. Another look,
And yet another still! Come to my arms and heart!
We seem so near the dwelling-place of God!