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But, while the Vicar on the brow
Of Hangman Hill, looks down below,
Through groves and trees that intervene,
To pastures ever fair and green,
I'll tell you whence it lays its claim
To such an unpropitious name.
Some eight.or ten score years ago, The vast and fertile plains below, As well as many a neighbouring steep, Were cropped by multitudes of sheep. On these, a rogue whose cot was nigh, Had often cast a wistful eye; And as the wretch had ne'er repressed The bad suggestions of his breast, In evil hour, when Cynthia's light Was shaded by the clouds of night, He leaves his cot, and skulks along Where lay reposed the fleecy throng
Selecting of the flock the best,
It struggling in his arms he pressed ;
Then, binding it with hempen thong,
Drags the reluctant prize along.
But, finding all his efforts vain,
To drag it when beyond the plain,
Since now an ascent rough and high
Does in his homeward pathway lie ;
He breathless stops where, near bis way,
A ponderous rocky fragment lay,
On which he lifts his struggling prey :
Then, making on the rope a noose,
To keep his prize from slipping loose,
He just had o'er his cranium thrown
The circling cord, when, leaping down
The other side, his frightened prey
Tries all its strength to get away;
By which the tangled rope, in spite
Of all his care, becomes so tight
Around his neck, as stops his breath,
And yields him up a prey to death!
On this famed steep, with upraised hands,
Our learned Clerk admiring stands,
Beholding with supreme delight,
The beauteous scene that courts his sight.
On every side vast fields are seen,
Enrobed in dress of loveliest green,
Which, undulating in the breeze,
Form to the eye illusive seas.
The rugged slope beneath his feet,
Yields to the snowy flocks retreat.
Beyond, as far as meets the eye,
Vast fertile meadows sloping lie,
Towards where Dearne, with murky waves,
The smiling surface richly laves;
Where scattered groups of lowing kine,
Luxurious on the turf recline;
Or seek relief from sultry beam,
By wading in the cooling stream.
Then, midway flows a gurgling rill,
Towards the lowly village mill;
And as its crystal waters flow
Into a gentle fall below,
The falling sheet reflects the light,
On glassy surface smooth and bright;
And eddies in the gulph below,
Appear like wreaths of purest snow.
And on the left, a hanging wood,
Conspicuous on an ascent stood;
Near which, in low sequestered spot,
Arose the miller's humble cot.
Nor distant far, a ruined tower,
(An emblem sad of fallen power!)
Still proudly towering to the sky,
Upreared its awful head on high ;
On which, through many a lengthened age,
The elements had
rage. And though in every place around, Huge masses press the labouring ground,
Time's ruthless work,—the firm-built wall,
The battlements, the spacious hall,
The massive column, solid tower,
And gateway firm, that mocked the power
Of many a foe in time of old,
When Hengist owned the princely hold,
No longer now the foe defy,
But low in mingled ruins lie:
Yet still the keep its place maintains,
And stands majestic mid the plains.
Another point reveals a vill,
Placed sweetly on a sloping hill,
Whose church upon a central height,
Conspicuous challenges the sight.
Its sacred walls contain the tomb
Of one who met untimely doom ;-
One who possessed those vast domains
Around, of woodlands, hills, and plains;
Which then acknowledged him alone,
Though now they many masters own.