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The careless eye can find no grace, No beauty in the scaly folds, Nor see within the dark embrace What latent loveliness it holds.

Yet in that bulb, those sapless scales,
The lily wraps her silver vest,
Till vernal suns and vernal gales
Shall kiss once more her fragrant breast.

Yes, hide beneath the mouldering heap The undelighting slighted thing; There in the cold earth buried deep,

In silence let it wait the spring.

Oh! many a stormy night shall close

In gloom upon the barren earth, While still, in undisturbed repose,

Uninjured lies the future birth: And Ignorance, with sceptic eye,

Hope's patient smile shall wondering view: Or mock her fond credulity,

As her soft tears the spot bedew.

Sweet smile of hope, delicious tear!

The sun, the shower indeed shall come; The promised verdant shoot appear,

And nature bid her blossoms bloom.

And thou, O virgin queen of spring!

Shalt, from thy dark and lowly bed, Bursting thy green sheath's silken string, Unveil thy charms, and perfume shed; Unfold thy robes of purest white,

Unsullied from their darksome grave, And thy soft petals' silvery light

In the mild breeze unfettered wave.

So Faith shall seek the lowly dust
Where humble Sorrow loves to lie,
And bid her thus her hopes intrust,

And watch with patient, cheerful eye; And bear the long, cold wintry night,

And bear her own degraded doom; And wait till Heaven's reviving light, Eternal spring! shall burst the gloom.


ROBERT BLOOMFIELD, author of The Farmer's Boy, and other poems illustrative of English rural life and customs, was born at Honington, near Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, in the year 1766. His father, a tailor, died whilst the poet was a child, and he was placed under his uncle, a farmer. Here he remained only two years, being too weak and diminutive for field labour, and he was taken to London by an elder brother, and brought up to the trade of a shoemaker. His two years of country service, and occasional visits to his friends in Suffolk, were of inestimable importance to him as a poet, for they afforded materials for his Farmer's Boy,' and gave a freshness and reality to his descriptions. It was in the shoemaker's garret, however, that his poetry was chiefly composed; and the merit of introducing it to the world belongs to Mr Capel Lofft, a literary gentleman residing at Troston, near Bury, to whom the manuscript was shown, after being rejected by several London booksellers. Mr Lofft warmly befriended the poet, and had the satisfaction of seeing his prognostications of success fully verified. At this time Bloomfield was thirty-two years of age, Iwas married, and had three children. The Far mer's Boy' immediately became popular; the Duke of Grafton patronised the poet, settling on him a

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O for the strength to paint my joy once more! That joy I feel when winter's reign is o'er; When the dark despot lifts his hoary brow, And seeks his polar realm's eternal snow: Though bleak November's fogs oppress my brain, Shake every nerve, and struggling fancy chain; Though time creeps o'er me with his palsied hand, And frost-like bids the stream of passion stand. The worldly circumstances of the author seem to have been such as to confirm the common idea as to the infelicity of poets. His situation in the Sealoffice was irksome and laborious, and he was forced to resign it from ill health. He engaged in the bookselling business, but was unsuccessful. In his latter years he resorted to making Eolian harps, which he sold among his friends. We have been informed by the poet's son (a modest and intelligent man, a printer), that Mr Rogers exerted himself to procure a pension for Bloomfield, and Mr Southey also took much interest in his welfare; but his last days were imbittered by ill health and poverty. So severe were the sufferings of Bloomfield from continual headache and nervous irritability, that fears were entertained for his reason, when, happily, death stepped in, and released him from the world's poor strife.' He died at Shefford, in Bedfordshire, on the 19th of August 1823. The first remarkable feature in the poetry of this humble bard is the easy smoothness and correctness of his versification. His ear was attuned to harmony, and his taste to the beauties of expression, before he had learned anything of


criticism, or had enjoyed opportunities for study. This may be seen from the opening of his principal poem :

O come, blest Spirit! whatsoe'er thou art,
Sweet inmate, hail! thou source of sterling joy,
Thou kindling warmth that hover'st round my heart;
That poverty itself can not destroy,
Be thou my Muse, and faithful still to me,
Retrace the steps of wild obscurity.

No deeds of arms my humble lines rehearse;
No Alpine wonders thunder through my verse,
The roaring cataract, the snow-topt hill,
Inspiring awe till breath itself stands still:
Nature's sublimer scenes ne'er charmed mine eyes,
Nor science led me through the boundless skies;
From meaner objects far my raptures flow:
O point these raptures! bid my bosom glow,
And lead my soul to ecstacies of praise
For all the blessings of my infant days!
Bear me through regions where gay Fancy dwells;
But mould to Truth's fair form what memory tells.


Live, trifling incidents, and grace my song,
That to the humblest menial belong:
To him whose drudgery unheeded goes,
His joys unreckoned, as his cares or woes:
Though joys and cares in every path are sown,
And youthful minds have feelings of their own,
Quick-springing sorrows, transient as the dew,
Delights from trifles, trifles ever new.
"Twas thus with Giles, meek, fatherless, and poor,
Labour his portion, but he felt no more;
No stripes, no tyranny his steps pursued,
His life was constant cheerful servitude;
Strange to the world, he wore a bashful look,
The fields his study, nature was his book;
And as revolving seasons changed the scene
From heat to cold, tempestuous to serene,
Through every change still varied his employ,
Yet each new duty brought its share of joy.

It is interesting to contrast the cheerful tone of Bloomfield's descriptions of rural life in its hardest and least inviting forms, with those of Crabbe, also a native of Suffolk. Both are true, but coloured with the respective peculiarities, in their style of observation and feeling, of the two poets. Bloomfield describes the various occupations of a farm boy in seed-time, at harvest, tending cattle and sheep, and other occupations. In his tales, he embodies more moral feeling and painting, and his incidents are pleasing and well arranged. His want of vigour and passion, joined to the humility of his themes, is perhaps the cause of his being now little read; but he is one of the most characteristic and faithful of our national poets.

[Turnip-Sowing-Wheat Ripening-Sparrows-Insects
-The Sky-Lark-Reaping, &c.-Harvest Field.]
The farmer's life displays in every part
A moral lesson to the sensual heart.
Though in the lap of plenty, thoughtful still,
He looks beyond the present good or ill;
Nor estimates alone one blessing's worth,
From changeful seasons, or capricious earth!
But views the future with the present hours,
And looks for failures as he looks for showers;
For casual as for certain want prepares,
And round his yard the reeking haystack rears;
Or clover, blossomed lovely to the sight,
His team's rich store through many a wintry night.
What though abundance round his dwelling spreads,
Though ever moist his self-improving meads
Supply his dairy with a copious flood,
And seem to promise unexhausted food;

That promise fails when buried deep in snow, And vegetative juices cease to flow.

For this his plough turns up the destined lands,
Whence stormy winter draws its full demands;
For this the seed minutely small he sows,
Whence, sound and sweet, the hardy turnip grows.
But how unlike to April's closing days!
High climbs the sun and darts his powerful rays;
Whitens the fresh-drawn mould, and pierces through
The cumbrous clods that tumble round the plough.
O'er heaven's bright azure, hence with joyful eyes
The farmer sees dark clouds assembling rise;
Borne o'er his fields a heavy torrent falls,
And strikes the earth in hasty driving squalls.
'Right welcome down, ye precious drops,' he cries;
But soon, too soon, the partial blessing flies.
'Boy, bring the harrows, try how deep the rain
Has forced its way.' He comes, but comes in vain ;
Dry dust beneath the bubbling surface lurks,
And mocks his pains the more the more he works.
Still, 'midst huge clods, he plunges on forlorn,
That laugh his harrows and the showers to scorn.
E'en thus the living clod, the stubborn fool,
Resists the stormy lectures of the school,
Till tried with gentler means, the dunce to please,
His head imbibes right reason by degrees;
As when from eve till morning's wakeful hour,
Light constant rain evinces secret power,
And, ere the day resumes its wonted smiles,
Presents a cheerful easy task for Giles.
Down with a touch the mellow soil is laid,
And yon tall crop next claims his timely aid;
Thither well-pleased he hies, assured to find
Wild trackless haunts, and objects to his mind.

Shut up from broad rank blades that droop below,
The nodding wheat-ear forms a graceful bow,
With milky kernels starting full weighed down,
Ere yet the sun hath tinged its head with brown:
There thousands in a flock, for ever gay,
Loud chirping sparrows welcome in the day,
And from the mazes of the leafy thorn
Drop one by one upon the bending corn.
Giles with a pole assails their close retreats,
And round the grass-grown dewy border beats,
On either side completely overspread,

Here branches bend, there corn o'erstoops his head.
Green covert hail! for through the varying year
No hours so sweet, no scene to him so dear.
Here Wisdom's placid eye delighted sees
His frequent intervals of lonely ease,
And with one ray his infant soul inspires,
Just kindling there her never-dying fires.
Whence solitude derives peculiar charms,
And heaven-directed thought his bosom warms.
Just where the parting bough's light shadows play,
Scarce in the shade, nor in the scorching day,
Stretched on the turf he lies, a peopled bed,
Where swarming insects creep around his head.
The small dust-coloured beetle climbs with pain
O'er the smooth plantain leaf, a spacious plain!
Thence higher still, by countless steps conveyed,
He gains the summit of a shivering blade,
And flirts his filmy wings, and looks around,
Exulting in his distance from the ground.
The tender speckled moth here dancing seen,
The vaulting grasshopper of glossy green,
And all prolific Summer's sporting train,
Their little lives by various powers sustain.
But what can unassisted vision do?
What but recoil where most it would pursue;
His patient gaze but finish with a sigh,
When Music waking speaks the skylark nigh.
Just starting from the corn, he cheerily sings,
And trusts with conscious pride his downy wings;
Still louder breathes, and in the face of day
Mounts up, and calls on Giles to mark his way.

Close to his eyes his hat he instant bends,
And forms a friendly telescope, that lends
Just aid enough to dull the glaring light,
And place the wandering bird before his sight,
That oft beneath a light cloud sweeps along,
Lost for a while, yet pours the varied song;
The eye still follows, and the cloud moves by,
Again he stretches up the clear blue sky;
His form, his motion, undistinguished quite,
Save when he wheels direct from shade to light:
E'en then the songster a mere speck became,
Gliding like fancy's bubbles in a dream,
The gazer sees; but yielding to repose,
Unwittingly his jaded eyelids close.
Delicious sleep! From sleep who could forbear,
With guilt no more than Giles, and no more care;
Peace o'er his slumbers waves her guardian wing,
Nor Conscience once disturbs him with a sting;
He wakes refreshed from every trivial pain,
And takes his pole, and brushes round again.

Its dark green hue, its sicklier tints all fail,
And ripening harvest rustles in the gale.
A glorious sight, if glory dwells below,
Where heaven's munificence makes all things show,
O'er every field and golden prospect found,
That glads the ploughman's Sunday morning's round;
When on some eminence he takes his stand,
To judge the smiling produce of the land.
Here Vanity slinks back, her head to hide;
What is there here to flatter human pride?
The towering fabric, or the dome's loud roar,
And steadfast columns may astonish more,
Where the charmed gazer long delighted stays,
Yet traced but to the architect the praise;
Whilst here the veriest clown that treads the sod,
Without one scruple gives the praise to God;
And twofold joys possess his raptured mind,
From gratitude and admiration joined.
Here, 'midst the boldest triumphs of her worth,
Nature herself invites the reapers forth;
Dares the keen sickle from its twelvemonth's rest,
And gives that ardour which in every breast
From infancy to age alike appears,
When the first sheaf its plumy top uprears.
No rake takes here what Heaven to all bestows-
Children of want, for you the bounty flows!
And every cottage from the plenteous store
Receives a burden nightly at its door.

Hark! where the sweeping scythe now rips along; Each sturdy mower, emulous and strong, Whose writhing form meridian heat defies, Bends o'er his work, and every sinew tries; Prostrates the waving treasure at his feet, But spares the rising clover, short and sweet. Come Health! come Jollity! light-footed come; Here hold your revels, and make this your home. Each heart awaits and hails you as its own; Each moistened brow that scorns to wear a frown: The unpeopled dwelling mourns its tenants strayed: E'en the domestic laughing dairymaid Hies to the field the general toil to share. Meanwhile the farmer quits his elbow-chair, His cool brick floor, his pitcher, and his ease, And braves the sultry beams, and gladly sees His gates thrown open, and his team abroad, The ready group attendant on his word To turn the swath, the quivering load to rear, Or ply the busy rake the land to clear. Summer's light garb itself now cumbrous grown, Each his thin doublet in the shade throws down: Where oft the mastiff skulks with half-shut eye, And rouses at the stranger passing by; While unrestrained the social converse flows, And every breast Love's powerful impulse knows, And rival wits with more than rustic grace Confess the presence of a pretty face.

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Hail, greenwood shades, that, stretching far, Defy e'en summer's noontide power, When August in his burning car

Withholds the clouds, withholds the shower. The deep-toned low from either hill,

Down hazel aisles and arches green (The herd's rude tracks from rill to rill),

Roared echoing through the solemn scene. From my charmed heart the numbers sprung, Though birds had ceased the choral lay; I poured wild raptures from my tongue,

And gave delicious tears their way. Then, darker shadows seeking still,

Where human foot had seldom strayed, I read aloud to every hill


Sweet Emma's love, the Nut-brown maid.'

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How would each sweeping ponderous bough
Resist, when straight the whirlwind cleaves,
Dashing in strengthening eddies through

A roaring wilderness of leaves?
How would the prone descending shower
From the green canopy rebound?
How would the lowland torrents pour!

How deep the pealing thunder sound?
But peace was there: no lightnings blazed;
No clouds obscured the face of heaven;
Down each green opening while I gazed,

My thoughts to home and you were given. O, tender minds! in life's gay morn,

Some clouds must dim your coming day; Yet bootless, pride and falsehood scorn,

And peace like this shall cheer your way. Now, at the dark wood's stately side,

Well pleased I met the sun again; Here fleeting fancy travelled wide;

My seat was destined to the main.
For many an oak lay stretched at length,
Whose trunks (with bark no longer sheathed)
Had reached their full meridian strength
Before your father's father breathed!
Perhaps they'll many a conflict brave,

And many a dreadful storm defy;
Then, groaning o'er the adverse wave,
Bring home the flag of victory.
Go, then, proud oaks; we meet no more!
Go, grace the scenes to me denied,
The white cliffs round my native shore,
And the loud ocean's swelling tide.
'Genius of the forest shades,'

Sweet from the heights of thy domain, When the gray evening shadow fades,

To view the country's golden grain; To view the gleaming village spire

'Midst distant groves unknown to meGroves that, grown bright in borrowed fire,

Bow o'er the peopled vales to thee. Where was thy elfin train, that play

Round Wake's huge oak, their favourite tree, Dancing the twilight hours away?

Why were they not revealed to me! Yet, smiling fairies left behind,

Affection brought you all to view; To love and tenderness resigned,


My heart heaved many a sigh for
When morning still unclouded rose,
Refreshed with sleep and joyous dreams,
Where fruitful fields with woodlands close,
I traced the births of various streams.
From beds of clay, here creeping rills,

Unseen to parent Ouse, would steal;
Or, gushing from the northward hills,
Would glitter through Tove's winding dale.
But ah! ye cooling springs, farewell!

Herds, I no more your freedom share; But long my grateful tongue shall tell

What brought your gazing stranger there. 'Genius of the forest shades,'

Lend thy power, and lend thine ear; But dreams still lengthen thy long glades, And bring thy peace and silence here.

Description of a Blind Youth.]

For from his cradle he had never seen
Soul-cheering sunbeams, or wild nature's green.
But all life's blessings centre not in sight;
For Providence, that dealt him one long night,
Had given, in pity, to the blooming boy
Feelings more exquisitely tuned to joy.

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Fond to excess was he of all that grew;
The morning blossom sprinkled o'er with dew,
Across his path, as if in playful freak,
Would dash his brow and weep upon his cheek;
Each varying leaf that brushed where'er he came,
Pressed to his rosy lip he called by name;
He grasped the saplings, measured every bough,
Inhaled the fragrance that the spring's months throw
Profusely round, till his young heart confessed
That all was beauty, and himself was blessed.
Yet when he traced the wide extended plain,
Or clear brook side, he felt a transient pain;
The keen regret of goodness, void of pride,
To think he could not roam without a guide.
May-Day with the Muses.

[Banquet of an English Squire.]

Then came the jovial day, no streaks of red
O'er the broad portal of the morn were spread,
But one high-sailing mist of dazzling white,
A screen of gossamer, a magic light,
Doomed instantly, by simplest shepherd's ken,
To reign awhile, and be exhaled at ten.

O'er leaves, o'er blossoms, by his power restored,
Forth came the conquering sun and looked abroad;
Millions of dew-drops fell, yet millions hung,
Like words of transport trembling on the tongue,
Too strong for utterance. Thus the infant boy,
With rosebud cheeks, and features tuned to joy,
Weeps while he struggles with restraint or pain;
But change the scene, and make him laugh again,
His heart rekindles, and his cheek appears

A thousand times more lovely through his tears.
From the first glimpse of day, a busy scene
Was that high-swelling lawn, that destined green,
Which shadowless expanded far and wide,
The mansion's ornament, the hamlet's pride;
To cheer, to order, to direct, contrive,
Even old Sir Ambrose had been up at five;
There his whole household laboured in his view-
But light is labour where the task is new.
Some wheeled the turf to build a grassy throne
Round a huge thorn that spread his boughs alone,
Rough-rined and bold, as master of the place;
Five generations of the Higham race

Had plucked his flowers, and still he held his sway,
Waved his white head, and felt the breath of May.
Some from the greenhouse ranged exotics round,
To bask in open day on English ground:
And 'midst them in a line of splendour drew
Long wreaths and garlands gathered in the dew.
Some spread the snowy canvass, propped on high
O'er sheltering tables with their whole supply;
Some swung the biting scythe with merry face,
And cropped the daisies for a dancing space;
Some rolled the mouldy barrel in his might,
From prison darkness into cheerful light,
And fenced him round with cans; and others bore
The creaking hamper with its costly store;
Well corked, well flavoured, and well taxed, that came
From Lusitanian mountains dear to fame,
Whence Gama steered, and led the conquering way
To eastern triumphs and the realms of day.
A thousand minor tasks filled every hour,
Till the sun gained the zenith of his power,
When every path was thronged with old and young,
And many a skylark in his strength upsprung
To bid them welcome. Not a face was there
But, for May-day at least, had banished care;
No cringing looks, no pauper tales to tell,
No timid glance they knew their host too well-
Freedom was there, and joy in every eye:
Such scenes were England's boast in days gone by.
Beneath the thorn was good Sir Ambrose found,
His guests an ample crescent formed around;

Nature's own carpet spread the space between,
Where blithe domestics plied in gold and green.
The venerable chaplain waved his wand,
And silence followed as he stretched his hand :
The deep carouse can never boast the bliss,
The animation of a scene like this.

At length the damasked cloths were whisked away
Like fluttering sails upon a summer's day;
The hey-day of enjoyment found repose;
The worthy baronet majestic rose.

They viewed him, while his ale was filling round,
The monarch of his own paternal ground.
His cup was full, and where the blossoms bowed
Over his head, Sir Ambrose spoke aloud,
Nor stopped a dainty form or phrase to cull.
His heart elated, like his cup was full:-
'Full be your hopes, and rich the crops that fall;
Health to my neighbours, happiness to all.'
Dull must that clown be, dull as winter's sleet,
Who would not instantly be on his feet:
An echoing health to mingling shouts give place,
'Sir Ambrose Higham and his noble race!'
May-Day with the Muses.

[The Soldier's Home.]

[The topic is trite, but in Mr Bloomfield's hands it almost
assumes a character of novelty. Burns's Soldier's Return is not,
to our taste, one whit superior.'-Professor Wilson.]
My untried Muse shall no high tone assume,
Nor strut in arms-farewell my cap and plume!
Brief be my verse, a task within my power;
I tell my feelings in one happy hour:

But what an hour was that! when from the main
I reached this lovely valley once again!
A glorious harvest filled my eager sight,
Half shocked, half waving in a flood of light;
On that poor cottage roof where I was born,
The sun looked down as in life's early morn.
I gazed around, but not a soul appeared;
I listened on the threshold, nothing heard;
I called my father thrice, but no one came;
It was not fear or grief that shook my frame,
But an o'erpowering sense of peace and home,
Of toils gone by, perhaps of joys to come.
The door invitingly stood open wide;
I shook my dust, and set my staff aside.

How sweet it was to breathe that cooler an,
And take possession of my father's chair!
Beneath my elbow, on the solid frame,
Appeared the rough initials of my name,
Cut forty years before! The same old clock
Struck the same bell, and gave my heart a shock
never can forget. A short breeze sprung,
And while a sigh was trembling on my tongue,
Caught the old dangling almanacs behind,
And up they flew like banners in the wind;
Then gently, singly, down, down, down they web,
And told of twenty years that I had spent
Far from my native land. That instant came
A robin on the threshold; though so tame,
At first he looked distrustful, almost shy,
And cast on me his coal-black steadfast eye,
And seemed to say (past friendship to renew)
Ah ha! old worn-out soldier, is it you?'
Through the room ranged the imprisoned humble bee,
And bombed, and bounced, and struggled to be free;
Dashing against the panes with sullen roar,
That threw their diamond sunlight on the floor;
That floor, clean sanded, where my fancy strayed,
O'er undulating waves the broom had made;
Reminding me of those of hideous forms
That met us as we passed the Cape of storms,
Where high and loud they break, and peace comes

They roll and foam, and roll and foam for ever.

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