Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

In matted grass, that with a livelier green
Betrays the secret of their silent course.
Nature inanimate employs sweet sounds,
But animated nature sweeter still,
To sooth and satisfy the human ear.
Ten thousand warblers cheer the day, and one
The livelong night; nor these alone, whose notes
Nice-finger'd Art must emulate in vain,
But cawing rooks, and kites that swim subline
In still-repeated circles, screaming loud,
The jay, the pie, and e'en the boding owl,
That hails the rising moon, have charms for me,
Sounds in harmonious in themselves and harsh,
Yet heard in scenes where peace for ever reigns,
And only there, please highly for their sake.

Peace to the artist, whose ingenious thouglit
Devis'd the weatherhouse, that useful toy !
Fearless of humid air and gath'ring rains,
Forth steps the man-an emblem of myself!
More delicate his tim'rous mate retires.
When Winter soaks the fields, and female feet,
Too weak to struggle with tenacious clay,
Or ford the rivulets, are best at home,
The task of new discov'ries falls on me.
At such a season, and with such a charge,
Once weat I forth; and found, till then unknow),
A coʻlaya, whither oft we since repair :
'Tis perces id upon the green hill top, but close
Envirwin' with a ring of branching elms,
That overhang the thatch, itself unseen
Peeps at the vale below ; so thick beset
Wiili foliage of such dark redundant growth,
I cail'd the low-roof'd lodge the peasant's nest.
And, hidden as it is, and far remote
from such unpleasing sounds as haunt the ear
In village or in town, the bay of curs

Incessant, clinking hammers, grinding wheels,
And infants clam'rous whether pleas’d or pain’d,
Oft have I wish'd the peaceful coveret mine.
Here I have said, at least I should possess
The poet's treasure, Silence, and indulge
The dreams of fancy, tranquil and secure.
Vain thought ! the dweller in that still retreat
Dearly obtains the refuge it affords.
Its elevated site forbids the wretch
To drink sweet waters of the crystal well;
He dips his bowl into the weedy ditch,
And, heavy laden, brings his bev'rage home,
Far fetch'd and little worth ; nor seldom waits,
Dependent on the baker's punctual call,
To hear his creaking paniers at the door,
Angry, and sad, and his last crust consum'd.
So farewell envy of the peasant's nest !
If solitude make scant the means of life,
Society for me !--thou seeming sweet,
Be still a pleasing object in my view;
My visit still, but never mine abode.

Not distant far, a length of colonnade
Invites us.

Monument of ancient taste,
Now scorn'd, but worthy of a beiter fate.
Our fathers knew the value of a screen
From sultry suns: and, in their shaded walks
And long protracted bow'rs, enjoy'd at noon
The gloom and coolness of declining day.
We bear our shades about us ; self depriv'd
of other screen, the thin umbrella spread,
And range and Indian waste without a tree.
Thanks to Benevolus*-- he spares me yet
These chesnuts rang'd in corresponding lines ;

*John Courtney Throckmorton, Esq. of Weston Underwood.

And, though himself so polishd, still reprieves
The obsolete prolixity of shade.

Descending now (but cautious, lest too fast)
A sudden steep upon a rustic bridge,
We pass a guif, in which the willows dip
Their pendent boughs, stooping as if to drink.
Hence, ankle keep in moss and flow'ry thyme,
We mount again, and feel at ev'ry step
Our foot hali sunk in hillocks green and soft,
Rais'd by the mole, the miner of the soil.
He, not unlike the great ones of mankind,
Disfigures Earth : and, plotting in the dark,
Toils much to earn a monumental pile
That may record the mischief he has done.

The summit gain’d, behold the proud alcove
That crowns it! yet not all its pride secures
The grand retreat from injuries impress'd
By rural carvers, who with knives deface
The panels, leaving an obscure, rude name,
In characters uncouth, and spelt amiss.
So strong the zeal ! immortalize himself
Beats in the breast of man, that e'en a few,
Few transient years, won from th' abyss abhorr'd
Of blank oblivion, seem a glorious prize,
And even to a clown. Now roves the eye;
And, posted on this speculative height,
Exults in its command. The sheepfold here
Pours out its fleecy tenants o'er the glebe.
At first progressive as a stream, they seek
The middle field ; but, scatter'd by degrees,
Each to his choicé, soon whiten all the land.
There from the sunburnt hayfield homeward creeps
The loaded wain ; while, lighten'd of his charge,
The wain that meets it passes swiftly by ;
The boorish driver leaning o'er his team
Vosif'rous, and impatient of delay.

Nor less attractive is the woodland scene,
Diversified with trees of ev'ry growth,
Alike, yet various. Ilere the gray smooth trunks
Of ash, or lime, or beech, distinctly shine,
Within the twilight of their distant shades;
There, lost behind a rising ground, the wood
Seems sunk, and shorten's to its topmost boughs.
No tree in all the grove but has its charms,
Though each its hue peculiar ; paler some,
And of a wanish gray ; the willow such,
And poplar, that with silver lines. his leaf,
And ash far-stretching his umbrageous arm;
Of deeper green the elm; and deeper still,
Lord of the woods, the long surviving oak.
Some glossy leav'd, and shining in the sun,
The maple and the beech of oily nuts
Prolifick, and the lime at dewy eve
Diffusing odours : nor unnoted pass
'The sycamore, capricious in attire,
Now green, now tawny,' and, ere autumn yet
Have chang'd the woods, in scarlet honours bright.
O'er these, but, far beyond (a spacious map
of hill and valley interpos'd between)
The Ouse, dividing the well water'd land,
Now glitters in the sun, and now retires,
As bashful, yet impatient to be seen.
Hence the declivity is sharp and short,
And such the reascent ; between them weeps
A little naid her impov'rish'd urn
All summer long, which winter fills again.
The folded gates would bar my progress now,
But that the lord* of this enclos'd demesne,
Communicative of the good he owns,
Admits me to a share ; the guiltless eye'

* See the foregoing note.

Commits no wrong, nor wastes what it enjoys.
Refreshing change where now the blazing sun ?
By short transition we have lost its glare,
And stepp'd at once into a cooler clime.
Ye fallen avenues ! once more I mourn
Your fate unmerited, once more rejoice
That yet a remnant of your race survives.
How airy and how light the graceful arch,
Yet awful as the consecrated roof
Re-echoing pious anthems! while beneath
The checker'd earth seems restless as a flood
Brush'd by the wind. So sportive is the light
Shot through the boughs, it dances as they dance,
Shadow and sunshine jutermingling quick,
And dark’ning, and enlight’ning, as the leaves
Play wanton, ev'ry moment, ev'ry spot.

And now, with nerves new brac'd and spirits cheer'd,
We tread the wilderness, whose well-roll'd walks
With curvature of slow and easy sweep-
Deception innocent-give ample space
To narrow bounds. The grove receives us next;
Between the upright shafts of whose tall elms
We may discern the thresher at his task.
Thump after thump resounds the constant fail,
That seems to swing uncertain, and yet falls
Full on the destin'd ear. Wide flies the chaff,
The rustling straw sends up a frequent mist
Of atoms, sparkling in the noonday beam.
Come hither, ye that press your beds of down,
And sleep not ; see him sweating o'er his bread
Before he eats it.-'Tis the primal curse,
But soften'd into mercy ; made the pledge
of cheerful days and nights without a groan.

By ceaseless action all that is subsists.
Constant rotation of th' unwearied wheel
That Nature rides upon, maintains her health,

« PreviousContinue »