[In the vale of Grasmere, by the side of an old highway leading to Ambleside, is a gate, which, from time out of
mind, has been called the Wishing-gate, from a belief that
wishes formed or indulged there have a favorable issue.]
HOPE rules a land forever green:
All powers that serve the bright-eyed Queen
Are confident and gay;
Clouds at her bidding disappear;
Points she to aught?—the bliss draws near,
And Fancy smooths the way.
Not such the land of Wishes—there
Dwell fruitless day-dreams, lawless prayer,
And thoughts with things at strife;
Yet how forlorn, should ye depart
Ye superstitions of the heart,
How poor, were human life!
When magic lore abjured its might,
Ye did not forfeit one dear right,
One tender claim abate;
Witness this symbol of your sway,
Surnving near the public way,
The rustic Wishing-gate!
Inquire not if the faery race
Shed kindly influence on the place,
Ere northward they retired;
If here a warrior left a spell,
Panting for glory as he fell;
Or here a saint expired.
Enough that all arouud is fair,
Composed with Nature’s finest care,
And in her fondest love—
Peace to embosom and content—
To overawe the turbulent,
The selfish to reprove.
Yea! even the Stranger from afar,
Reclining on this moss-grown bar,
Unknowing, and unknown,
The infection of the ground partakes,
Longing for his Beloved—who maker
All happiness her own.
Then why should conscious Spirits fear
The mystic stirrings that are here,
The ancient faith disclaim?
The local Genius ne’er befriends
Desires whose course in folly ends,
Whose just reward is shame.
Smile if thou wilt, but not in scorn,
If some, by ceaseless pains outworn,
Here crave an easier lot;
If some have thirsted to renew
A broken vow, or bind a true,
With firmer, holier knot.
And not in vain, when thoughts are cast
Upon the irrevocable past,
Some Penitent sincere
May for a worthier future sigh,
While trickles from his downcast eye
No unavailing tear.
The Worldling, pining to be freed
From turmoil, who would turn or speed
The current of his fate,
Might stop before this favored scene,
At Nature’s call, nor blush to lean
Upon the Wishing-gate.
The Sage, who feels how blind, how weak
Is man, though loth such help to seek,
Yet, passing, here might pause,
And thirst for insight to allay
Misgiving, while the crimson day
In quietness withdraws;
Or when the church-clock’s knell profound
To Time’s first step across the bound
Of midnight makes reply
Time pressing on with starry crest,
To filial sleep upon the breast
Of dread eternity.