A HILL POEM
ON THE DOWNS.
Broad and bare to the skies
The great Down-country lies,
Green in the glance of the sun,
Fresh with the clean salt air :
Screaming the gulls rise from the fresh»turned mould,
Where the round bosom of the wind-swept wold
Slopes to the valley fair.
Where the pale stubble shines with golden gleam
The silver ploughshare cleaves its hard-won way
Behind the patient team,
The slow black oxen toiling through the day
Tireless, impassive still,
From dawning dusk and chill
To twilight grey.
Far off the pearly sheep
Along the upland steep
Follow their shepherd from the wattled fold,
With tinkling bell-notes falling sweet and cold
As a stream's cadence, while a skylark sings
High in the blue, with eager outstretched wings,
Till the strong passion of his joy be told.
But when the day grows old,
And night cometh fold on fold,
Dulling the western gold,
Blackening bush and tree,
Veiling the ranks of cloud,
In their pallid pomp and proud
That hasten home from the sea,
Listen—now and again if the night be still enow,
You may hear the distant sea range to and fro
Tearing the shingly bourne of his bounden track,
Moaning with hate as he fails and falleth back ;
The Downs are peopled then ;
Fugitive, low-browed men
Start from the slopes around
Over the murky ground
Crouching they run with rough-wrought bow and spear,
Now seen, now hid, they rise and disappear,
Lost in the gloom again.