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Robert Southey.


MY days among the dead are passed;

Around me I behold,

Where'er these casual eyes are cast,

The mighty minds of old;
My never-failing friends are they,
With whom I converse day by day.

With them I take delight in weal,
And seek relief in woe;
And while I understand and feel
How much to them I owe,

My cheeks have often been bedewed
With tears of thoughtful gratitude.

My thoughts are with the dead; with them I live in long-past years;

Their virtues love, their faults condemn,

Partake their hopes and fears,

And from their lessons seek and find
Instruction with an humble mind.

My hopes are with the dead; anon
My place with them will be,
And I with them shall travel on

Through all futurity:

Yet leaving here a name, I trust,
That will not perish in the dust.



WELL there is in the west country, And a clearer one never was seen; There is not a wife in the west country But has heard of the well of St. Keyne.

An oak and an elm-tree stand beside,

And behind does an ash-tree grow; And a willow from the bank above Droops to the water below.

A traveller came to the well of St. Keyne;
Joyfully he drew nigh,

For from cock-crow he had been travelling,
And there was not a cloud in the sky.

He drank of the water so cool and clear,
For thirsty and hot was he;

And he sat down upon the bank

Under the willow-tree.

There came a man from the neighbouring town, At the well to fill his pail;

On the well-side he rested it,

And he bade the stranger hail.

"Now, art thou a bachelor, stranger?" quoth he; "For an if thou hast a wife,

The happiest draught thou hast drank this day
That ever thou didst in thy life.

"Or has thy good woman, if one thou hast, Ever here in Cornwall been?

For an if she have, I'll venture my life

She has drank of the well of St. Keyne."

"I have left a good woman who never was here,"

The stranger he made reply;

"But that my draught should be the better for that, I pray you answer me why."

"St. Keyne," quoth the Cornish man, Drank of this crystal well;

And before the angel summoned her,
She laid on the water a spell.

"If the husband of this gifted well
Shall drink before his wife,
A happy man henceforth is he,

For he shall be master for life.

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"But if the wife should drink of it first,
God help the husband then!"

The stranger stooped to the well of St. Keyne,
And drank of the water again.

"You drank of the well I warrant betimes ?" He to the Cornish man said;

But the Cornish man smiled as the stranger spoke, And sheepishly shook his head.

"I hastened as soon as the wedding was done, And left my wife in the porch;

But i' faith she had been wiser than I,

For she took a bottle to church."



ASPAR was poor, and vice and want Had made his heart like stone: And Jaspar looked with envious eyes On riches not his own.

On plunder bent, abroad he went
Toward the close of day,
And loitered on the lonely road
Impatient for his prey.

No traveller came, he loitered long,
And often looked around,
And paused and listened eagerly
To catch some coming sound.

He sate him down beside the stream
That crossed the lonely way.
So fair a scene might well have charmed
All evil thoughts away:

He sate beneath a willow-tree,
Which cast a trembling shade;
The gentle river full in front
A little island made-

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Where pleasantly the moonbeam shone
Upon the poplar-trees,

Whose shadow on the stream below
Played slowly to the breeze.

He listened and he heard the wind
That waved the willow-tree;
He heard the waters flow along,
And murmur quietly.


He listened for the traveller's tread,
The nightingale sang sweet ;-
He started up, for now he heard
The sound of coming feet:

He started up, and grasped a stake,
And waited for his prey;
There came a lonely traveller,
And Jaspar crossed his way.

But Jaspar's threats and curses failed
The traveller to appal;

He would not lightly yield the purse
Which held his little all.

Awhile he struggled, but he strove

With Jaspar's strength in vain ; Beneath his blows he fell and groaned, And never spake again.

Jaspar raised up the murdered man,
And plunged him in the flood,
And in the running water then

He cleansed his hands from blood.

The waters closed around the corpse,
And cleansed his hands from gore;
The willow waved, the stream flowed on,
And murmured as before.

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