Never a lovelier scene my eye has viewed
Than Dartmoor—that romantic solitude :
There mountain torrents rush through rock strewed glens,
A hundred springs gush up from secret dens ;
There, rock-piled slopes with rugged chasms yawn,
As if by thunderbolts asunder sawn ;
There, busy bees their soothing lullaby
Hum in the spiral foxglove’s speckled eye :
The breeze the purple heath-bloom moves in turn,
With nodding cotton rush and waving fern—
Fit place for those who find in botany
Somewhat to change their life’s monotony.
There, mountain-spires uplift their stony crests
And pierce the clouds recumbent on their breasts ;
There, silvery aspens bend in light arcades,
And sycamores wave cool and darksome shades :
And there the ashen trees with beeches blend,
And clustering oaks a greener roof extend
Above the forest flowers so thick and gay ;
There, watery nymphs have sung the spousal lay,
And ancient Pan hath tuned his reed, and all
The jocund fairies danced around each fall,
While bounding fauns and mirthsome dryads wove
Some sportive measure in a neighbouring grove.
And there, dark rites in bygone days were done
On wilds o’er which uncounted storms have blown :
There I have clambered up the dangerous steep
Or pathless glen, and watched the cataract’s leap.
Or loitered by the mere, the crag, the stream,
When billows flashed beneath the sunset’s beam,
When shone the stars with their perennial ray,
Which brought the joy as of serener day,
And from the vault of heaven those first-born lights
Bestowed a loveliness to darksome nights.
I’ve seen the meteor’s glance with treacherous ray—
A moment seen, but fled the next away.
‘Tis there the poet finds fit theme for song,
Though by the noble bard too long unsung !
And there the falcon builds its lonely nest
In crannies where no truant hands molest ;
And there the cascades, flashing, foaming, free,
Boil wildly up in their tremendous glee ;
And shivered giant trunks to man declare,
In rocky crevices firm-rooted there,
What whirlwinds rage, what blasts and tempests rude
And scath of storm for ages they have stood.
Round peaks, at times, dark clouds and whirlwinds throng.
|And to the strife loud tempests sweep along,
While man recoils before the dreadful rage
Of wind, and earth, and sky, which Titan battles wage ;
Then foamy masses from their ridges leap,
And speed their billows through the valleys deep,
And terror walks beneath, and rules on high ;
Storms roll their raging pennons through the sky,
And from their secret magazines a store
Of fury send at jagged peaks and hoar ;
And wildly sweeps their breath from hill to hill
More loud than thunder’s roar, yet hang there still,
Amid the peal of each portentous rush,
When roll the warring winds in elemental gush,
Uninjured mountain brows. Along the vale
The night-bird’s cries are heard ; upon the gale
Are borne the bittern’s scream and curlew’s note,
And whirring wings o’er waste and waters float.
And there the cliffs form a dark interlune
To hide the pale and broad and placid moon ;
There streams give life and greenness to the soft
And lovely landscapes, north and south. Aloft
The screaming hawk his eyrie sails around.
What subject can more meet for song be found
Than Dartmoor, hallowed by a thousand views,
And interesting beauty as the Muse
Would fire ? How grand when visited by gales—
When mighty tors the tempest fierce assails !
The whisper of the brook swells to a voice
Of power ; the thunder’s loud terrific noise
Salutes the ear, and next the vivid fork
Of arrowy lightning, when the storm’s at work,
Unfailing, greets the eye of him who dares
To front the fiend as he his standard rears.
There, I have loved the spells of summer’s hours,
The joy of sunlight and the smile of flowers ;
To hear glad murmurs from the birds and rills,
When with delight were clothed the dales and hills.
On uplands near I’ve seen, along the sky,
An eagle seeking prey sail heavily ;
The eagle sailed into the distant gray,
Down plumped the hawk and cushioned on his prey ;
And, with a furtive look, the silent fox
Slunk down the covert, as a noise of cocks
Fell startling on the ear, with cluck and crow.