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Obdurate and unyielding, glassy smooth,
The nurse sleeps sweetly, hir’d to watch the sick, Whom snoring she disturbs. As sweetly he, Who quits the coach-box at a midnight hour, To sleep within the carriage more secure, His legs depending at the open door. Sweet sleep enjoys the curate in his desk, . The tedious rector drawling o'er his head;
95 And sweet the clerk below. But neither sleep Of lazy nurse, who snores the sick man dead; Nor his, who quits the box at midnight hour To slumber in the carriage more secure; Nor sleep enjoy'd by curate in his desk;
100 Nor yet the dozings of the clerk, are sweet, Compar'd with the repose the Sofa yields.
O may I live exempted (while I live Guiltless of pamper'd appetite obscene) From pangs arthritic, that infest the toe . 105 Of libertine Excess. The Sofa suits The gouty limb, 'tis true: but gouty limb, Though on a Sofa, may I never feel: For I have lov'd the rural walk through lanes Of grassy swarth, close cropp'd by nibbling sheep, 110 And skirted thick with intertexture firm Of thorny boughs; have lov'd the rural walk O’er hills, through valleys, and by rivers’ brink, E’er since a truant boy I pass’d my bounds. T enjoy a ramble on the banks of Thames; And still remember, not without regret, Of hours, that sorrow since has much endear’d, How oft, my slice of pocket store consumid, Still hung'ring, pennyless, and far from home, I fed on scarlet hips and stony haws,
120 Or blushing crabs, or berries, that emboss Tha bramble, black as jet, or sloes austere. Hard fare! but such as boyish appetite Disdains not; nor the palate, undepravd By culinary arts, unsav'ry deems.
No Sofa then awaited my return;
Their length and colour from the locks they spare; The elastick spring of an unwearied foot, 135 That mounts the stile with ease, or leaps the fence; That play of lungs, inhaling and again Respiring freely the fresh air, that makes Swift pace or steep ascent no toil to me, Mine have not pilfer'd yet; nor yet impair'd 140 My relish of fair prospect; scenes that sooth'd Or charm’d me young, no longer young, I find Still soothing, and of pow'r to charm me still. And witness, dear companion of my walks, Whose arm this twentieth winter I perceive 145 Fast lock'd in mine, with pleasure such as love, Confirm’d by long experience of thy worth And well-tried virtues, could alone inspireWitness a joy that thou hast doubled long. Thou know'st my praise of nature most sincere, 150 And that my raptures are not conjur'd up To serve occasions of poetic pomp, But genuine, and art partner of them all. How oft upon yon eminence our pace Has slacken’d to a pause, and we have borne 155 The ruffling wind, scarce conscious that it blew, While Admiration, feeding at the eye, And still unsated, dwelt upon the scene. Thence, with what pleasure have we just discern'd The distant plough slow moving, and beside 160 His lab’ring team, that swerv'd not from the track, The sturdy swain diminish'd to a boy! Here Ouse, slow winding through a level plain
Of spacious meads, with cattle sprinkled o’er,
165 Delighted. There, fast rooted in their bank, Stand, never overlook'd, our fav’rite elms, That screen the herdsman's solitary hut; While far beyond, and overthwart the stream, That, as with molten glass, inlays the vale, -170 The sloping land recedes into the clouds; Displaying on its varied side the grace Of hedge-row beauties numberless, square tow'r, Tall spire, from which the sound of cheerful bells Just undulates upon the list'ning ear,
175 Groves, heaths, and smoking villages, remote. Scenes must be beautiful, which daily view'd Please daily, and whose novelty survives Long knowledge and the scrutiny of years. Praise justly due to those that I describe.
180 Nor rural sights alone, but rural sounds, Exhilirate the spirit, and restore The tone of languid Nature. Mighty winds, That sweep the skirt of some far-spreading wood Of ancient growth, make music not unlike i 185 The dash of Ocean on his winding shore, And lull the spirit while they fill the mind; Unnumber'd branches waving in the blast, And all their leaves fast flutt'ring, all at once. Nor less composure waits upon the roar Of distant floods, or on the softer voice Of neighb’ring fountain, or of rills that slip . Through the cleft rock, and chiming as they fall Upon loose pebbles, lose themselves at length In matted grass, that with a livelier green
195 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 200 The livelong night; nor these alone, whose notes
Nice-fingerd Art must emulate in vain,
Peace to the artist, whose ingenious thought
Tis perch'd upon the green hill top, but close