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Like the gay birds that sung them to repose, Content, and careless of to-morrow's fare. Her form was fresher than the morning rose When the dew wets its leaves; unstained and pure, As is the lily, or the mountain snow. The modest virtues mingled in her eyes, Still on the ground dejected, darting all Their humid beams into the blooming flowers: Or when the mournful tale her mother told, Of what her faithless fortune promised once, Thrilled in her thought, they, like the dewy star Of evening, shone in tears. A native grace Sat fair-proportioned on her polished limbs, Veiled in a simple robe, their best attire, Beyond the pomp of dress; for loveliness Needs not the foreign aid of ornament, But is, when unadorned, adorned the most. Thoughtless of beauty, she was beauty's self, Recluse amid the close-embowering woods. As in the hollow breast of Apennine, Beneath the shelter of encircling hills, A myrtle rises, far from human eye, And breathes its balmy fragrance o'er the wild; So flourished blooming, and unseen by all, The sweet Lavinia; till, at length, compelled By strong Necessity's supreme command, With smiling patience in her looks, she went To glean Palemon's fields. The pride of swains Palemon was, the generous, and the rich; Who led the rural life in all its joy And elegance, such as Arcadian song Transmits from ancient uncorrupted times; When tyrant custom had not shackled man, But free to follow nature was the mode. He then, his fancy with autumnal scenes Amusing, chanced beside his reaper-train To walk, when poor Lavinia drew his eye; Unconscious of her power, and turning quick With unaffected blushes from his gaze: He saw her charming, but he saw not half The charms her downcast modesty concealed. That very moment love and chaste desire Sprung in his bosom, to himself unknown; For still the world prevailed, and its dread laugh, Which scarce the firm philosopher can scorn, Should his heart own a gleaner in the field: And thus in secret to his soul he sighed :
'What pity! that so delicate a form, By beauty kindled, where enlivening sense And more than vulgar goodness seem to dwell, Should be devoted to the rude embrace Of some indecent clown! She looks, methinks, Of old Acasto's line; and to my mind Recalls that patron of my happy life, From whom my liberal fortune took its rise; Now to the dust gone down; his houses, lands, And once fair-spreading family, dissolved. Tis said that in some lone obscure retreat, Urged by remembrance sad, and decent pride, Far from those scenes which knew their better days, His aged widow and his daughter live, Whom yet my fruitless search could never find. Romantic wish! would this the daughter were!'
When, strict inquiring, from herself he found
She was the same, the daughter of his friend,
Of bountiful Acasto, who can speak
The mingled passions that surprised his heart,
And through his nerves in shivering transport ran?
Then blazed his smothered flame, avowed, and bold;
And as he viewed her, ardent, o'er and o'er,
Love, gratitude, and pity, wept at once.
Confused and frightened at his sudden tears,
Her rising beauties flushed a higher bloom,
As thus Palemon, passionate and just,
Poured out the pious rapture of his soul.
And art thou, then, Acasto's dear remains?
She, whom my restless gratitude has sought,
So long in vain? Oh heavens! the very same,
The softened image of my noble friend,
Alive his every look, his every feature,
More elegantly touched. Sweeter than Spring!
Thou sole surviving blossom from the root
That nourished up my fortune! Say, ah where,
In what sequestered desert hast thou drawn
The kindest aspect of delighted Heaven?
Into such beauty spread, and blown so fair;
Though poverty's cold wind, and crushing rain,
Beat keen and heavy on thy tender years?
Oh let me now into a richer soil
Transplant thee safe! where vernal suns and showers
Diffuse their warmest, largest influence;
And of my garden be the pride and joy!
Ill it befits thee, oh, it ill befits
Acasto's daughter, his whose open stores,
Though vast, were little to his ample heart,
The father of a country, thus to pick
The very refuse of those harvest-fields,
Which from his bounteous friendship I enjoy.
Then throw that shameful pittance from thy hand,
But ill applied to such a rugged task;
The fields, the master, all, my fair, are thine;
If to the various blessings which thy house
Has on me lavished, thou wilt add that bliss,
That dearest bliss, the power of blessing thee!'
Here ceased the youth: yet still his speaking eye
Expressed the sacred triumph of his soul,
With conscious virtue, gratitude, and love,
Above the vulgar joy divinely raised.
Nor wanted he reply. Won by the charm
Of goodness irresistible, and all
In sweet disorder lost, she blushed consent.
The news immediate to her mother brought,
While, pierced with anxious thought, she pined away
The lonely moments for Lavinia's fate;
Amazed, and scarce believing what she heard,
Joy seized her withered veins, and one bright gleam
Of setting life shone on her evening hours:
Not less enraptured than the happy pair;
Who flourished long in tender bliss, and reared
A numerous offspring, lovely like themselves,
And good, the grace of all the country round.
[A Winter Landscape.]
Through the hushed air the whitening shower descends,
At first thin-wavering, till at last the flakes
Fall broad and wide, and fast, dimming the day
With a continual flow. The cherished fields
Put on their winter robe of purest white:
'Tis brightness all, save where the new snow melts
Along the mazy current. Low the woods
Bow their hoar head; and ere the languid sun
Faint from the west, emits his evening ray;
Earth's universal face, deep hid, and chill,
Is one wide dazzling waste, that buries wide
The works of man. Drooping, the labourer-ox
Stands covered o'er with snow, and then demands
The fruit of all his toil. The fowls of heaven,
Tamed by the cruel season, crowd around
The winnowing store, and claim the little boon
Which Providence assigns them. One alone,
The red-breast, sacred to the household gods,
Wisely regardful of the embroiling sky,
In joyless fields and thorny thickets, leaves
His shivering mates, and pays to trusted man
His annual visit. Half-afraid, he first
Against the window beats; then, brisk, alights
On the warm hearth; then hopping o'er the floor,
Eyes all the smiling family askance,
And pecks, and starts, and wonders where he is:
Till more familiar grown, the table crumbs
Attract his slender feet. The foodless wilds
Pour forth their brown inhabitants. The hare, Though timorous of heart, and hard beset
By death in various forms, dark snares and dogs,
And more unpitying men, the garden seeks,
Urged on by fearless want. The bleating kine
Eye the bleak heaven, and next, the glistening earth,
With looks of dumb despair; then, sad dispersed,
Dig for the withered herb through heaps of snow.
As thus the snows arise, and foul and fierce
All winter drives along the darkened air,
In his own loose revolving fields the swain
Disastered stands; sees other hills ascend,
Of unknown joyless brow, and other scenes,
Of horrid prospect, shag the trackless plain;
Nor finds the river nor the forest, hid
Beneath the formless wild; but wanders on
From hill to dale, still more and more astray,
Impatient flouncing through the drifted heaps,
Stung with the thoughts of home; the thoughts of Refining still, the social passions work.
Rush on his nerves, and call their vigour forth
In many a vain attempt. How sinks his soul !
What black despair, what horror, fills his heart!
When for the dusky spot which fancy feigned,
His tufted cottage rising through the snow,
He meets the roughness of the middle waste,
Far from the track and blessed abode of man;
While round him night resistless closes fast,
And every tempest howling o'er his head,
Renders the savage wilderness more wild.
Then throng the busy shapes into his mind,
Of covered pits, unfathomably deep,
A dire descent! beyond the power of frost;
Of faithless bogs; of precipices huge
Smoothed up with snow; and what is land unknown,
What water of the still unfrozen spring,
In the loose marsh or solitary lake,
Where the fresh fountain from the bottom boils.
These check his fearful steps, and down he sinks
Beneath the shelter of the shapeless drift,
Thinking o'er all the bitterness of death,
Mixed with the tender anguish nature shoots
Through the wrung bosom of the dying man,
His wife, his children, and his friends, unseen.
In vain for him the officious wife prepares
The fire fair blazing, and the vestment warm:
In vain his little children, peeping out
Into the mingling storm, demand their sire
With tears of artless innocence. Alas!
Nor wife nor children more shall he behold,
Nor friends, nor sacred home. On every nerve
The deadly winter seizes, shuts up sense,
And o'er his inmost vitals creeping cold,
Lays him along the snows a stiffened corse,
Stretched out, and bleaching on the northern blast.
[Benevolent Reflections, from Winter.']
Ah little think the gay licentious proud, Whom pleasure, power, and affluence surround; They, who their thoughtless hours in giddy mirth, And wanton, often cruel, riot waste; Ah little think they, while they dance along, How many feel, this very moment, death And all the sad variety of pain. How many sink in the devouring flood, Or more devouring flame. How many bleed, By shameful variance betwixt man and man. How many pine in want and dungeon glooms; Shut from the common air, and common use Of their own limbs. How many drink the cup Of baleful grief, or eat the bitter bread Of misery. Sore pierced by wintry winds, How many shrink into the sordid hut Of cheerless poverty. How many shake With all the fiercer tortures of the mind,
Unbounded passion, madness, guilt, remorse;
Whence tumbled headlong from the height of life,
They furnish matter for the tragic muse.
Even in the vale, where wisdom loves to dwell,
With friendship, peace, and contemplation joined,
How many, racked with honest passions, droop
In deep retired distress. How many stand
Around the deathbed of their dearest friends,
And point the parting anguish. Thought fond man
Of these, and all the thousand nameless ills,
That one incessant struggle render life,
One scene of toil, of suffering, and of fate,
Vice in his high career would stand appalled,
And heedless rambling impulse learn to think;
The consious heart of charity would warm,
And her wide wish benevolence dilate;
The social tear would rise, the social sigh;
And into clear perfection, gradual bliss,
Hymn on the Seasons.
These, as they change, Almighty Father, these
Are but the varied God. The rolling year
Is full of thee. Forth in the pleasing Spring
Thy beauty walks, thy tenderness and love.
Wide flush the fields; the softening air is balm;
Echo the mountains round; the forest smiles;
And every sense and every heart is joy.
Then comes thy glory in the Summer months,
With light and heat refulgent. Then thy sun
Shoots full perfection through the swelling year:
And oft thy voice in dreadful thunder speaks,
And oft at dawn, deep noon, or falling eve,
By brooks and groves in hollow-whispering gales.
Thy bounty shines in Autumn unconfined,
And spreads a common feast for all that lives.
In Winter awful thou! with clouds and storms
Around thee thrown, tempest o'er tempest rolled,
Majestic darkness! On the whirlwind's wing
Riding sublime, thou bidst the world adore,
And humblest nature with thy northern blast.
Mysterious round! what skill, what force divine,
Deep-felt, in these appear! a simple train
Yet so delightful mixed, with such kind art,
Such beauty and beneficence combined;
Shade unperceived, so softening into shade;
And all so forming a harmonious whole,
That, as they still succeed, they ravish still.
But wandering oft, with rude unconscious gaze,
Man marks not thee, marks not the mighty hand
That, ever busy, wheels the silent spheres;
Works in the secret deep; shoots steaming thence
The fair profusion that o'erspreads the spring;
Flings from the sun direct the flaming day;
Feeds every creature; hurls the tempest forth,
And, as on earth this grateful change revolves,
With transport touches all the springs of life.
Nature, attend! join, every living soul
Beneath the spacious temple of the sky,
In adoration join; and ardent raise
One general song! To Him, ye vocal gales,
Breathe soft, whose spirit in your freshness breathes.
Oh talk of Him in solitary glooms,
Where o'er the rock the scarcely waving pine
Fills the brown shade with a religious awe.
And ye, whose bolder note is heard afar,
Who shake the astonished world, lift high to heaven
The impetuous song, and say from whom you rage.
His praise, ye brooks, attune, ye trembling rills;
And let me catch it as I muse along.
Ye headlong torrents, rapid and profound;
Ye softer floods, that lead the humid maze
Along the vale; and thou majestic main,
A secret world of wonders in thyself,
Sound His stupendous praise, whose greater voice
Or bids you roar, or bids your roaring fall.
So roll your incense, herbs, and fruits, and flowers,
In mingled clouds to Him, whose sun exalts,
Whose breath perfumes you, and whose pencil paints.
Ye forests bend, ye harvests wave to Him;
Breathe your still song into the reaper's heart,
As home he goes beneath the joyous moon.
Ye that keep watch in heaven, as earth asleep
Unconscious lies, effuse your mildest beams;
Ye constellations, while your angels strike,
Amid the spangled sky, the silver lyre.
Great source of day! blest image here below
Of thy Creator, ever pouring wide,
From world to world, the vital ocean round,
On nature write with every beam His praise.
The thunder rolls: be hushed the prostrate world,
While cloud to cloud returns the solemn hymn.
Bleat out afresh ye hills; ye mossy rocks
Retain the sound; the broad responsive low,
Ye valleys, raise; for the Great Shepherd reigns,
And his unsuffering kingdom yet will come.
Ye woodlands, all awake; a boundless song
Burst from the groves; and when the restless day,
Expiring, lays the warbling world asleep,
Sweetest of birds! sweet Philomela, charm
The listening shades, and teach the night His praise.
Ye chief, for whom the whole creation smiles;
At once the head, the heart, the tongue of all,
Crown the great hymn! in swarming cities vast,
Assembled men to the deep organ join
The long resounding voice, oft breaking clear,
At solemn pauses, through the swelling base;
And, as each mingling flame increases each,
In one united ardour rise to heaven.
Or if you rather choose the rural shade,
And find a fane in every sacred grove,
There let the shepherd's lute, the virgin's lay,
The prompting seraph, and the poet's lyre,
Still sing the God of seasons as they roll.
For me, when I forget the darling theme,
Whether the blossom blows, the Summer ray
Russets the plain, inspiring Autumn gleams,
Or Winter rises in the blackening east-
Be my tongue mute, my fancy paint no more,
And, dead to joy, forget my heart to beat.
Should fate command me to the farthest verge
Of the green earth, to distant barbarous climes,
Rivers unknown to song; where first the sun
Gilds Indian mountains, or his setting beam
Flames on the Atlantic isles, 'tis nought to me;
Since God is ever present, ever felt,
In the void waste as in the city full;
And where He vital breathes, there must be joy.
When even at last the solemn hour shall come,
And wing my mystic flight to future worlds,
I cheerful will obey; there with new powers,
Will rising wonders sing. I cannot go
Where universal love not smiles around,
Sustaining all yon orbs, and all their suns;
From seeming evil still educing good,
And better thence again, and better still,
In infinite progression. But I lose
Myself in Him, in light ineffable!
Come, then, expressive silence, muse His praise.
[The Caravan of Mecca.]
From all the boundless furnace of the sky,
And the wide glittering waste of burning sand,
A suffocating wind the pilgrim smites
With instant death. Patient of thirst and toil,
Son of the desert! e'en the camel feels,
Shot through his withered heart, the fiery blast.
Or from the black-red ether, bursting broad,
Sallies the sudden whirlwind. Straight the sands
[The Siberian Exile.]
Our infant winter sinks Divested of his grandeur, should our eye Astonished shoot into the frigid zone; Where for relentless months continual night Holds o'er the glittering waste her starry reign. There, through the prison of unbounded wilds, Barred by the hand of nature from escape, Wide roams the Russian exile. Nought around Strikes his sad eye, but deserts lost in snow; And heavy-loaded groves; and solid floods That stretch athwart the solitary waste Their icy horrors to the frozen main; And cheerless towns far distant, never blessed Save when its annual course the caravan Bends to the golden coast of rich Cathay.
[Pestilence at Carthagena.]
Walks the dire power of pestilent disease.
A thousand hideous fiends her course attend,
Sick nature blasting, and to heartless wo
And feeble desolation casting down
The towering hopes and all the pride of man.
Such as of late at Carthagena quenched
The British fire. You, gallant Vernon, saw
The miserable scene; you, pitying, saw
To infant weakness sunk the warrior's arm;
Saw the deep racking pang, the ghastly form,
The lip pale quivering, and the beamless eye
No more with ardour bright; you heard the groans
Of agonising ships, from shore to shore;
Heard, nightly plunged amid the sullen waves,
The frequent corse; while on each other fixed
In sad presage, the blank assistants seemed
Silent to ask whom Fate would next demand.
[From the 'Castle of Indolence.']
O mortal man, who livest here by toil,
Do not complain of this thy hard estate;
That like an emmet thou must ever moil,
Is a sad sentence of an ancient date;
And, certes, there is for it reason great;
For, though sometimes it makes thee weep and wail, And curse thy star, and early drudge and late, Withouten that would come a heavier bale, Loose life, unruly passions, and diseases pale.
In lowly dale, fast by a river's side,
With woody hill o'er hill encompassed round,
A most enchanting wizard did abide,
Than whom a fiend more fell is nowhere found.
It was, I ween, a lovely spot of ground:
And there a season atween June and May,
Half pranked with spring, with summer half imbrowned,
A listless climate made, where, sooth to say, No living wight could work, ne cared even for play.
Was nought around but images of rest:
Sleep-soothing groves, and quiet lawns between ;
And flowery beds that slumberous influence kest,
From poppies breathed; and beds of pleasant green,
The landskip such, inspiring perfect ease,
Where Indolence (for so the wizard hight)
Close hid his castle mid embowering trees,
That half shut out the beams of Phoebus bright,
And made a kind of checkered day and night.
Meanwhile, unceasing at the massy gate,
Beneath a spacious palm, the wicked wight
Was placed; and to his lute, of cruel fate,
And labour harsh, complained, lamenting man's
Thither continual pilgrims crowded still,
From all the roads of earth that pass there by ;
For, as they chanced to breathe on neighbouring hill,
The freshness of this valley smote their eye,
And drew them ever and anon more nigh;
Till clustering round the enchanter false they hung,
Ymolten with his syren melody;
While o'er the enfeebling lute his hand he flung,
And to the trembling chords these tempting verses
'Behold! ye pilgrims of this earth, behold!
See all but man with unearned pleasure gay:
See her bright robes the butterfly unfold,
Broke from her wintry tomb in prime of May!
What youthful bride can equal her array?
Who can with her for easy pleasure vie?
From mead to mead with gentle wing to stray,
From flower to flower on balmy gales to fly,
Is all she has to do beneath the radiant sky.
Behold the merry minstrels of the morn,
The swarming songsters of the careless grove,
Ten thousand throats! that from the flowering thorn,
Hymn their good God, and carol sweet of love,
Such grateful kindly raptures them emove:
They neither plough, nor sow; ne, fit for flail,
E'er to the barn the nodding sheaves they drove;
Yet theirs each harvest dancing in the gale,
Whatever crowns the hill, or smiles along the vale.
No cocks, with me, to rustic labour call,
From village on to village sounding clear:
To tardy swain no shrill-voiced matrons squall;
No dogs, no babes, no wives, to stun your ear;
No hammers thump; no horrid blacksmith fear;
No noisy tradesmen your sweet slumbers start,
With sounds that are a misery to hear:
But all is calm, as would delight the heart
Of Sybarite of old, all nature, and all art.
Here nought but candour reigns, indulgent ease,
Good-natured lounging, sauntering up and down:
They who are pleased themselves must always please;
On others' ways they never squint a frown,
Nor heed what haps in hamlet or in town:
Thus, from the source of tender indolence,
With milky blood the heart is overflown,
Is soothed and sweetened by the social sense,
For interest, envy, pride, and strife, are banished hence.
What, what is virtue, but repose of mind,
A pure ethereal calm, that knows no storm;
Above the reach of wild ambition's wind,
Above the passions that this world deform,
And torture man, a proud malignant worm?
But here, instead, soft gales of passion play,
And gently stir the heart, thereby to form
A quicker sense of joy; as breezes stray
Across the enlivened skies, and make them still more
The best of men have ever loved repose:
They hate to mingle in the filthy fray;
Where the soul sours, and gradual rancour grows,
Imbittered more from peevish day to day.
Even those whom Fame has lent her fairest ray,
The most renowned of worthy wights of yore,
From a base world at last have stolen away:
So Scipio, to the soft Cumaan shore
Retiring, tasted joy he never knew before.
But if a little exercise you choose,
Some zest for ease, 'tis not forbidden here.
Amid the groves you may indulge the muse,
Or tend the blooms, and deck the vernal year;
Or softly stealing, with your watery gear,
Along the brook, the crimson-spotted fry
You may delude; the whilst, amused, you hear
Now the hoarse stream, and now the zephyr's sigh,
Attuned to the birds, and woodland melody.
The pride of Turkey and of Persia land? Soft quilts on quilts, on carpets carpets spread, And couches stretched around in seemly band; And endless pillows rise to prop the head; So that each spacious room was one full-swelling bed.
And everywhere huge covered tables stood, With wines high flavoured and rich viands crowned; Whatever sprightly juice or tasteful food On the green bosom of this earth are found, And all old ocean genders in his round; Some hand unseen these silently displayed, Even undemanded by a sign or sound; You need but wish, and, instantly obeyed, Fair ranged the dishes rose, and thick the glasses
The rooms with costly tapestry were hung, Where was inwoven many a gentle tale; Such as of old the rural poets sung, Or of Arcadian or Sicilian vale: Reclining lovers, in the lonely dale, Poured forth at large the sweetly-tortured heart; Or, sighing tender passion, swelled the gale, And taught charmed echo to resound their smart ; While flocks, woods, streams, around, repose and peace
Those pleased the most, where, by a cunn.ng hand, Depainted was the patriarchal age; What time Dan Abraham left the Chaldee land, And pastured on from verdant stage to stage, Where fields and fountains fresh could best engage. Toil was not then. Of nothing took they heed, But with wild beasts the sylvan war to wage, And o'er vast plains their herds and flocks to feed; Blest sons of nature they! true golden age indeed!
Sometimes the pencil, in cool airy halls, Bade the gay bloom of vernal landscapes rise, Or autumn's varied shades imbrown the walls; Now the black tempest strikes the astonished eyes, Now down the steep the flashing torrent flies; The trembling sun now plays o'er ocean blue, And now rude mountains frown amid the skies; Whate'er Lorraine light-touched with softening hue, Or savage Rosa dashed, or learned Poussin drew.
A certain music, never known before, Here lulled the pensive melancholy mind, Full easily obtained. Behoves no more, But sidelong, to the gently-waving wind, To lay the well-tuned instrument reclined; From which with airy flying fingers light, Beyond each mortal touch the most refined, The god of winds drew sounds of deep delight; Whence, with just cause, the harp of olus it
Ah me! what hand can touch the string so fine?
Who up the lofty diapason roll
Such sweet, such sad, such solemn airs divine,
Then let them down again into the soul!
Now rising love they fanned; now pleasing dole
They breathed, in tender musings, through the heart;
And now a graver sacred strain they stole,
As when seraphic hands a hymn impart :
Wild warbling nature all, above the reach of art!
Such the gay splendour, the luxurious state Of Caliphs old, who on the Tigris' shore, In mighty Bagdad, populous and great, Held their bright court, where was of ladies store; And verse, love, music, still the garland wore; When sleep was coy, the bard in waiting there Cheered the lone midnight with the muse's lore, Composing music bade his dreams be fair, And music lent new gladness to the morning air.