Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, TRAVELLER BY NIGHT, SELECTION, by JOANNA BAILLIE



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TRAVELLER BY NIGHT, SELECTION, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Still more pleased, through murky air
Last Line: Arouse him from the soothing state.


-- STILL more pleased, through murky air,
He spies the distant bonfire's glare;
And, nearer to the spot advancing,
Black imps and goblins round it dancing;
And nearer still, distinctly traces
The featured disks of happy faces,
Grinning and roaring in their glory,
Like Bacchants wild of ancient story,
And making murgeons to the flame,
As it were playmate in the game.
Full well, I trow, could modern stage
Such acting for the nonce engage,
A crowded audience every night
Would press to see the jovial sight;
And this, from cost and squeezing free,
November's nightly travellers see.

Through village, lane, or hamlet going,
The light from cottage window, showing
Its inmates at their evening fare,
By rousing fire, where earthenware
With pewter trenchers, on the shelf,
Give some display of worldly pelf,
Is transient vision to the eye
Of him our hasty passer by;
Yet much of pleasing import tells,
And cherish'd in his fancy dwells,
Where simple innocence and mirth
Encircle still the cottage hearth.
Across the road a fiery glare
Doth now the blacksmith's forge declare,
Where furnace-blast, and measured din
Of heavy hammers, and within
The brawny mates their labour plying,
From heated bar the red sparks flying,
Some idle neighbours standing by
With open mouth and dazzled eye:
The rough and sooty walls with store
Of chains and horse-shoes studded o'er,
And rusty blades and bars between,
All momently are heard and seen. . . . .

Yet this short scene of noisy coil
But serves our traveller as a foil,
Enhancing what succeeds, and lending
A charm to pensive quiet, sending
To home and friends, left far behind,
The kindliest musings of his mind;
Or, should they stray to thoughts of pain,
A dimness o'er the haggard train
A mood and hour like this will throw,
As vex'd and burden'd spirits know.
Night, loneliness, and motion are
Agents of power to distance care;
To distance, not discard; for then
Withdrawn from busy haunts of men,
Necessity to act suspended,
The present, past, and future blended,
Like figures of a mazy dance,
Weave round the soul a dreamy trance,
Till jolting stone of turnpike gate
Arouse him from the soothing state.





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