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And Ignorance, with sceptic eye, (view: Unfold thy robes of purest white, Hope's patient smile shall wondering Unsullied from their darksome grave,
one grave, Or mock her fond credulity,
And thy soft petals' silvery light As her soft tears the spot bedew.
In the mild breeze unfettered wave
Sweet smile of hope, delicious tear !
The sun, the shower indeed shall come;
So Faith shall seek the lowly dust
Where humble Sorrow loves to lie, And bid her thus her hopes intrust,
And watch with patient, cheerful eye;
And thou, O virgin queen of spring! And bear the long, cold, wintry night,
Shalt, from thy dark and lowly bed, And bear her own degraded doom; Bursting thy green sheath's silken string, And wait till Heaven's reviving light,
Unveil thy charms, and perfume shed; Eternal spring! shall burst the gloom,
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD. ROBERT BLOOMFIELD (1766–1823), author of the 'Farmer's Boy.' and other poems illustrative of English rural life and customs, was born at Honington, near Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk. His father, a tailor, died whilst the poet was a child, and he was placed under his uncle, a farmer. Here he remained only two years, being too weak and diminutive for field-labour, and he was taken to London by an elder brother, and brought up to the trade of a shoemaker. His two years of country service, and occasional visits to his friends in Suffolk, were of inestimable importance to him as a poet, for they afforded materials for his ‘Farmer's Boy,' and gave a freshness and reality to his descriptions. It was in the shoemaker's garret, however, that his poetry was chiefly composed; and the merit of introducing it to the world belongs to Mr. Capel Lofft, a literary gentleman residing at Troston, near Bury, to whom the manuscript was shewn, after being rejected by several London booksellers. Mr. Lofft warmly befriended the poet, and had the satisfaction of seeing his prognostications of success fully verified. At this time Bloomfield was thirtytwo years of age, was married, and had three children. The ‘Farmer's Boy' immediately became popular; the Duke of Grafton patronised the poet, settling on him a small annuity, and through the influence of this nobleman, he was appointed to a situation in the Sealoffice. In 1810, Bloomfield published a collection of 'Rural Tales,' which fully supported his reputation; and to these were afterwards added · Wild Flowers,' 'Hazelwood Hall,' a village drama, and * Mayday with the Muses.' The last was published in the year of his death, and opens with a fine burst of poetical, though melancholy feeling
O for the strength to paint my joy once more!
The worldly circumstances of the author seem to have been such as to confirm the common idea as to the infelicity of poets. His situation in the Seal-office was irksome and laborious, and he was forced to resign it from ill-health. He engaged in the bookselling business, but was unsuccessful. In his latter years he resorted to making Æolian harps, which he sold among his friends. We have been informed by the poet's son-a modest and intelligent man, a printerthat Mr. Rogers exerted himself to procure a pension for Bloomfield, and Mr. Southey also took much interest in his welfare; but his last days were embittered by ill-health and poverty. So severe were the sufferings of Bloomfield from continual headache and nervous irritability, that fears were entertained for his reason, when, happily, death stepped in, and released him from the world's poor strife.' He died at Shefford, in Bedfordshire, on the 19th of August 1823. The first remarkable feature in the poetry of this humble bard is the easy smoothness and correctness of his versification. His ear was attuned to harmony, and his taste to the beauties of expression, before he had learned anything of criticism, or had enjoyed opportunities for study. This may be seen from the opening of his principal poem:
Live, trifling incidents, and grace my song,
And as revolving seasons changed the scene
Yet each new duty brought its share of joy. It is interesting to contrast the cheerful tone of Bloomfield's descriptions of rural life in its hardest and least inviting forms, with those of Crabbe, also a native of Suffolk. Both are true, but coloured with the respective peculiarities, in their style of observation and feeling, of the two poets. Bloomfield describes the various occupations of a farm-boy in seed-time, at barvest, tending cattle and sheep, and other occupations. In his tales, he embodies more moral feeling and painting, and his incidents are pleasing and well arranged. His want of vigour and passion, joined to the humility of his themes, is perhaps the cause of his being now little read; but he is one of the most characteristic and faithful of our national poets.
Hark! where the sweeping scythe now rips along;
His cool brick floor, his pitcher, and his ease,
grew; Embanked beneath a hawthorn bower, Nor moss elastic, flowers though sweet, Sent forth its waters near my head.
Matched Hannah's cheek of rosy hue. A rosy lass approached my view;
I caught her blue eyes' modest beam; I met her where the dark woods wave, The stranger podded · How-d'ye-do?' And shaded verdure skirts the plain; And leaped across the infant stream. And when the pale moon rising gave
New glories to her rising train. The water heedless passed away;
From her sweet cot upon the moor, With me her glowing image stayed ; Our plighted vows to heaven are flown; I strove, from that auspicious day,
Truth made me welcome at her door, To meet and bless the lovely maid.
And rosy Hannah is my own. I met her where beneath our feet
Lines addressed to my Children. Occasioned by a visit to Whittlebury Forest, Northamptonshire, in August 1800. Genius of the forest shades !
The deep-toned low from either hill. Lend thy power, and lend thine ear; Down hazel aisles and arches greenA stranger trod thy lonely glades,
The herd's rude tracks from rill to rillAmidst thy dark and bounding deer; Roared echoing through the solemn Inquiring childhood claims the verse,
scene. Olet them not inquire in vain; Be with me while I thus rehearse
From my charmed heart the numbers The glories of thy silvan reign.
Though birds had ceased the choral lay, Thy dells by wintry currents worn,
I poured wild raptures from my tongue, Secluded haunts, how deaf to me!
And gave delicious tears their way. From all but nature's converse born, Then, darker shadows seeking still, No ear to hear, no eye to see.
Where human foot had seldom strayed, There honoured leaves the green oaks I read aloud to every hill reared,
Sweet Emma's love, the Nut-brown And crowned the upland's graceful
Shaking his matted mane on high, While answering through the vale was The grazing colt would raise his head, heard
Or timorous doe would rushing fly, Each distant heifer's tinkling bell. And leave to me her grassy bed ;
Where, as the azure sky appeared Hail, greenwood shades, that, stretching Through bowers of ever-varying form,
'Midst the deep gloom methought I heard Defy e'en summer's noontide power, The daring progress of the storm, When August in his barning car Withholds the clouds, withholds the How would each sweeping ponderous shower.
Resist, when straight the whirlwind Now, at the dark wood's stately side, cleaves,
Well pleased I met the sun again ;
My seat was destined to the main.
Whose trunks--with bark no longer How would the lowland torrents pour?
sheathed How deep the pealing thunder sound? Had reached their full meridian strength
Before your father's father breathed! But peace was there: no lightnings blazed;
No clouds obscured the face of heaven; Down each green opening while I gazed, Perhaps they 'll many a conflict brave, My thoughts to home and you were And many a dreadful storm defy; given.
Then, groaning o'er the adverse wave, Oh, tender minds ! in life's gay morn, Bring home the flag of victory. Some clouds must dim your coming Go, then, proud oaks; we meet no more! day;
Go, grace the scenes to me denied, Yet bootless pride and falsehood scorn, The white cliffs round my native shore, And peace like this shall cheer your And the loud ocean's swelling tide. way.
Description of a Blind Youth.
May-day with the Muses.
Banquet of an English Squire.