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But thou, O Nymph, retir’d and coy!
In what brown hamlet dost thoujoy
To tell thy simple tale?
The lowliest children of the ground,
Moss-rose and violet, blossom round,
O say what soft propitious hour
I best may chuse to hail thy pow'r,
And court thy gentle sway?
When Autumn, friendly to the Muse,
Shall thy own modest tints diffuse
And shed thy milder day.
When Eve, her dewy star beneath,
Thy balmy spirit loves to breathe,
And ev'ry storm is laid;
If such an hour was eer thy choice,
Oft let me hearthy soothing voice
Low whisp'ring through the shade.
There are that love the shades of life,
And shun the splendid walks of fame;
There are that hold it rueful strife,
To risk ambition's losing game.
That far from Envy's lurid eye,
The fairest fruits of Genius rear;
Content to see them bloom and die
In friendship's small, but genial sphere.
Than vainer flowers, though sweeter far,
The Evening Primrose shuns the day;
Blooms only to the western star,
And loves its solitary ray.
In Eden's vale an aged hind,
At the dim twilight's closing hour,
On his time-smoothed staff reclin'd,
With wonder view'd the op'ning flower.
“Ill-fated flower, at eve to blow,
In pity's simple thought,” he cries,
“Thy bosom must not feel the glow
Of splendid suns, or smiling skies.
“Nor thee, the vagrants of the field,
The hamlet's little train behold;
Their eyes to sweet oppression yield,
When thine the falling shades unfold.
“Nor thee, the hasty shepherd heeds,
When love has fill'd his heart with cares;
For flowers he rifles all the meads,
For waking flowers—but thine forbears.
“Ah! waste no more that beauteous bloom,
On night's chill shade, that fragrant breath;
Let smiling suns those gems illume!
Fair flower, to live unseen is death.”
Soft as the voice of vernal gales,
That o'er the bending meadow blow;
Or streams that steal through even vales,
And murmur that they move so slow,
Deep in her unfrequented bower,
Sweet Philomela pour'd her strain;
The Bird of Eve approv'd her flower,
And answer'd thus the anxious swain:
By moon-light shades in valleys green,
Lovely flower, we'll live unseen:
Of our pleasure deem not lightly,
Laughing day may look more sprightly,
But I love the modest mien,
Still I love the modest mien
Of gentle evening fair; and her star-train’d queen.
Did'st thou, shepherd, never find
Pleasure is of pensive kind?
Has thy cottage never known
That she loves to live alone?
Dost thou not at evening hour
Feel some soft and secret pow'r,
Gliding o'er thy yielding mind,
Leave sweet serenity behind:
While all disarm’d, the cares of day
Steal through the falling gloom away?
Love to think thy lot was laid
In this undistinguish’d shade.
Far from the world’s infectious view
Thy little virtues safely blew;
Go, and in day's more dang'rous hour,
Guard thy emblematic flower.
YE fairy sprites, who oft by dusky eve,
When no rude noise disturbs this peaceful grove,
O'er cowslips' heads your airy dances weave,
Or with your females whisper tales of love.
A favourite's urn protect with ev'ry spell,
That by the conscious moon ye here prepare:
Nor in the breast the heaving sigh repel,
Nor in the redden'd eye the starting tear.
For ye have seen her at the rise of day,
Fair as the blushing flower, whose name she bore;
Try the thick copse, or in the valleys play,
Neglect her not, though all her beauty’s o'er.
Lest should some heifer from the neighbouring mead, Or playful colt her little tomb profane;
Lest on that breast the turf too hard they tread, Which ne'er knew sorrow, nor e'er tasted pain.