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Attending long in vain, I took the way, Which through a path but scarcely printed lay ; In narrow mazes oft it seem'd to meet, And look'd as lightly press’d by fairy feet. Wandering I walk'd alone, for still methought To fome strange end so strange a path was wrought : At last it led me where an arbour stood, The sacred receptacle of the wood : This place unmark'd, though oft I walk'd the green, In all my progress I had never seen : And, seiz'd at once with wonder and delight, Gaz'd all around me, new to the transporting fight. 'Twas bench'd with turf, and goodly to be seen, The thick young grass arose in fresher green : The mound was newly made, no sight could pass Betwist the nice partitions of the grass ; The well-united sods so closely lay ; And all ardund the shades defended it from day: For sycamores with eglantine were fpread, A hedge about the sides, a covering over head. And so the fragrant brier was wove between, The sycamore and flowers were mix'd with green, That nature seem’d to vary the delight; And satisfy'd at once the smell and sight. The master workman of the bower was known Through fairy-lands, and built for Oberon; Who twining leaves with such proportion drew, They rose by measure, and by rule they grew; No mortal tongue can half the beauty tell : For none but hands divine could work fo well.
Both roof and sides were like a parlour made,
A soft recess, and a cool summer shade ;
The hedge was set fo thick, no foreign eye
The persons plac'd within it could espy :
But all that pass’d without with ease was seen,
As if nor fence nor tree was plac'd between.
"Twas border'd with a field ; and some was plain
With grass, and some was sow'd with rising grain.
That (now the dew with spangles deck'd the ground)
A sweeter fpot of earth was never found.
I look'd and look'd, and still with new delight;
Such joy my foul, such pleasures fill’d my fight:
And the fresh eglantine exhald a breath,
Whose odours were of power to raise from death.
Nor'fullen discontent, nor anxious care,
Ev’n though brought thither, could inhabit there :
But thence they fled as from their mcrtal foe;
For this sweet place could only pleasure know.
Thus as I mus’d, I calt aside my eye, ,
And saw a medlar-tree was planted nigh.
The spreading branches made a goodly show,
And full of opening blooms was every bough:
A goldfinch there I saw with gawdy pride
Of painted plumes, that hopp'd from side to side,
Still pecking as she país'd; and still she drew
The sweets from every flower, and suck'd the dew :
Suffic'd at length, she warbled in her throat,
And tun’d her voice to many a merry note,
But indistinct, and neither sweet nor clear,
Yet such as sooth'd my soul, and pleas'd my ear.
Her fort performance was no sooner try'd,
When the I fought, the nightingale, reply'd :
So sweet, so thrill, fo varioutly the sung,
That the grove echoed, and the valleys rung :
And I so ravish'd with her heavenly note,
I stood intranc’d, and had no room for thought,
But, all o'er-power'd with ecítary of bliss,
Was in a pleasing dream of paradise ;
At length I wak’d, and, looking round the bower,
Search'd every tree, and pry'd on every flower,
If any-where by chance I might espy,
The rural poet of the melody :
For ftill methought she sung not far away :
At last I found her on a laurel spray.
Close by my side the sat, and fair in sight,
Fall in a line against her opposite;
Where stood with eglantine the laurel twin’d;
And both their native sweets were well conjoin'd.
On the green bank I fat, and listen’d long
(Sitting was more convenient for the song):
Nor till her lay was ended could I move,
But with’d to dwell for ever in the grove.
Only methought the time too swiftly pass’d,
every note I fear'd would be the last.
My light, and smell, and hearing, were employ'd,
And all three senses in full gust enjoy’d.
And what alone did all the rest surpass,
The sweet poffeffion of the fairy place ;
Single, and conscious to myself alone
Of pleasures to th’excluded world unknown :
Pleasures which no where else were to be found,
And all Elysium in a spot of ground.
Thus while I fat intent to see and hear,
And drew perfumes of more than vital air,
All suddenly I heard th' approaching sound
Of vocal music, on th’inchanted ground:
An host of saints it seemd, so full the quire ;
As if the bless’d above did all conspire
To join their voices, and neglect the lyre.
At length there issued from the grove behind
A fair assembly of the female kind :
A train less fair, as ancient fathers tell,
Seduc'd the sons of heaven to rebel.
I pass their form, and every charming grace,
Less than an angel would their worth debase :
But their attire, like liveries of a kind
All rich and rare, is fresh within
In velvet white as snow the troop was gown'd,
The seams with sparkling emeralds set around:
Their hoods and sleeves the same ; and purfied o’er
With diamonds, pearls, and all the shining store
Of eastern pomp : their long descending train,
With rubies edg’d, and sapphires, swept the plain :
High on their heads, with jewels richly fet,
Each lady wore a radiant coronet.
Beneath the circles, all the quire was grac'd
With chaplets green on their fair foreheads plac’d.
Of laurel fome, of woodbine many more;
And wreaths of Agnus castus others bore :
These last, who with those virgin crowns were dress’d,
Appear’d in higher honour than the rest.
They danc'd around : but in the midst was seen
A lady of a more majestic mien ;
By stature and by beauty mark’d their sovereign queen.
She in the midst began with sober grace ;
Her servant's eyes were fix'd upon her face,
And, as she mov'd or turn’d, her motions view'd,
Her measures kept, and step by step pursued.
Methought she trod the ground with greater grace,
With more of godhead shining in her face ;
And as in beauty the surpass’d the quire,
So, nobler than the rest, was her attire.
A crown of ruddy gold inclos’d her brow,
Plain without pomp, and rich without a show :
A branch of Agnus castus in her hand
She tore aloft (her fceptre of command);
Admir’d, ador'd by all the circling crowd,
For wherefoe'er she turn'd her face, they bow'd :
And as the danc'd, a roundelay she sung,
In honour of the laurel, ever young:
She rais'd her voice on high, ard sung so clear,
The fawns came fcudding from the groves to hear :
And all the bending forest lent an ear.
At every close the made, th' attending throng
Reply'd, and bore the burden of the song :
So just, so small, yet in so sweet a note,
It seem'd the music melted in the throat.
Thus dancing on, and singing as they danc’d,
They to the middle of the mead advanc'd,