« PreviousContinue »
Paint cards and dolls, and every idle thing,
Thus oft, reclined at ease, I lose an hour That fancy finds in her excursive flights.
At evening, till at length the freezing blast, Come Evening, once again, season of peace; That sweeps the bolted shutter, summons home Return sweet Evening, and continue long!
The recollected powers; and snapping short Methinks I see thee in the streaky west,
The glassy threads, with which the fancy weaves With matron-step slow-moving, while the night
Her brittle toils, restores me to myself. Treads on thy sweeping train; one hand employed How calm is my recess; and how the frost, In letting fall the curtain of repose
Raging abroad, and the rough wind endear On bird and beast, the other charged for man
The silence and the warmth enjoyed within! With sweet oblivion of the cares of day:
I saw the woods and fields at close of day, Not sumptuously adorned, nor needing aid,
A variegated show; the meadows green, Like homely-featured night, of clustering gems;
Though faded; and the lands, where lately waved A star or two, just twinkling on thy brow,
The golden harvest, of a mellow brown, Suffices thee; save that the moon is thine
Upturned so lately by the forceful share. No less than hers, not worn indeed on high
I saw far off the weedy fallows smile With ostentatious pageantry, but set
Witb verdure not unprofitable, grazed With modest grandeur in thy purple zone,
By flocks, fast feeding, and selecting each Resplendent less, but of an ampler round.
His favourite herb; while all the leafless groves Come then, and thou shalt find thy votary calm,
That skirt the horizon, wore a sable hue, Or make me so. Composure is thy gift,
Scarce noticed in the kindred dusk of eve. And, whether I devote thy gentle hours
To-morrow brings a change, a total change! To books, to music, or the poet's toil;
Which even now, though silently performed, To weaving nets for bird-alluring fruit;
And slowly, and by most unfelt, the face Or twining silken threads round ivory reels,
Of universal nature undergoes. When they command whom man was born to please ;
Fast falls a fleecy shower: the downy flakes I slight thee not, but make thee welcome still. Descending, and with never-ceasing lapse
Just when our drawing-rooms begin to blaze Softly alighting upon all below, With lights, by clear reflection multiplied
Assimilate all objects. Earth receives From many a mirror, in which he of Gath,
Gladly the thickening mantle; and the green Goliah, might have seen bis giant bulk
And tender blade, that feared the chilling blast, Whole without stooping, towering crest and all, Escapes unhurt beneath so warın a veil. My pleasures too begin. But me perhaps
In such a world, so thorny, and where none The glowing hearth may satisfy a while
Finds happiness unblighted; or, if found, With faint illumination, that uplifts
Without some thistly sorrow at its side; The shadows to the cieling, there by fits
It seems the part of wisdom, and no sin Dancing uncouthly to the quivering flame.
Against the law of love, to measure lots Not undelightful is an hour to me
With less distinguished than ourselves; that thus So spent in parlour twilight: such a gloom
We may with patience bear our moderate ills, Suits well the thoughtful or unthinking mind, And sympathize with others, suffering more. The mind contemplative, with some new theme Ill fares the traveller now, and he that stalks Pregnant, or indisposed alike to all.
In ponderous boots beside his reeking team.
By congregated loads adhering close
To the clogged wheels; and in its sluggish pace Fearless a soul, that does not always think.
Noiseless appears a moving hill of snow.
The toiling steeds expand the nostril wide,
L'pon their jutting chests. He, formed to bear I gazed, myself creating what I saw.
The pelting brunt of the tempestuous night, Nor less amused have I quiescent watched
With half-shut eyes, and puckered cheeks, and teeth The sooty films, that play upon the bars
Presented bare against the storm, plods on. Pendulous, and foreboding in the view
One hand secures his hat, save when with both Of superstition, prophesying still,
He brandishes his pliant length of whip, Though still deceived, some stranger's near ap- Resounding oft, and never heard in vain. proach.
O bappy; and in my account denied ”Tis thus the understanding takes repose
That sensibility of pain, with which In indolent vacuity of thought,
Refinement is endued, thrice happy thou ! And sleeps and is refreshed. Meanwhile the face Thy frame, robust and hardy, feels indeed Conceals the mood lethargic with a mask
The piercing cold, but feels it unimpaired. Of deep deliberation, as the man
The learned finger never need explore Were tasked to his full strength, absorbed and lost. Thy vigorous pulse; and the unhealthful east,
That breathes the spleen, and searches every bone Nor what a wealthier than ourselves may send. Of the infirm, is wholesome air to thee.
I mean the man, who, when the distant poor Thy days roll on exempt from household care; Need help, denies them nothing but his name. Thy waggon is thy wife; and the poor beasts, That drag the dull companion to and fro,
PRAISE OF THE COUNTRY. Thine helpless charge, dependent on thy care. Ah treat them kindly; rude as thou appearest, Man in society is like a flower Yet show that thou hast mercy! which the great Blown in its native bed: 'tis there alone With needless hurry whirled from place to place, His faculties, expanded in full bloom, Humane as they would seem, not always show. Shine out; there only reach their proper use. Poor, yet industrious, modest, quiet, neat,
But man, associated and leagued with man Such claim compassion in a night like this,
By regal warrant, or self-joined by bond And have a friend in every feeling heart.
For interest-sake, or swarming into clans Warmed, while it lasts, by labour, all day long Beneath one head for purposes of war, They brave the season, and yet find at eve,
Like flowers selected from the rest, and bound
And bundled close to fill some crowded vase, Ill clad, and fed but sparely, time to cool. The frugal housewife trembles while she lights Fades rapidly, and by compression marred Her scanty stock of brushwood, blazing clear, Contracts defilement not to be endured. But dying soon, like all terrestrial joys.
Hence chartered boroughs are such public plagues; The few small embers left she nurses well;
And burghers, men immaculate perhaps And, while her infant race, with outspread bands In all their private functions, once combined, And crowded knees, sit cowering o'er the sparks, Become a loathsome body, only fit Retires, content to quake, so they be warmed. For dissolution, hurtful to the main. The man feels least, as more inured than she
Hence merchants, unimpeachable of sin To winter, and the current in his veins
Against the charities of domestic life, More briskly moved by his severer toil;
Incorporated seem at once to lose Yet he too finds his own distress in theirs.
Their nature; and disclaiming all regard The taper soon extinguished, which I saw
For mercy and the common rights of man, Dangled along at the cold finger's end
Build factories with blood, conducting trade Just when the day declined, and the brown loaf At the sword's point, and dyeing the white robe Lodged on the shelf, half eaten without sauce Of innocent commercial justice red. Of savory cheese, or butter, costlier still;
Hence too the field of glory, as the world Sleep seems their only refuge: for alas,
Misdeems it, dazzled by its bright array, is felt the thought is chained, With all its majesty of thundering pomp, And sweet colloquial pleasures are but few! Enchanting music and immortal wreaths, With all this thrift they thrive not. All the care, Is but a school, where thoughtlessness is taught Ingenious parsimony takes, but just
On principle, where foppery atones Saves the small inventory, bed, and stool,
For folly, gallantry for every vice. Skillet, and old carved chest, from public sale. But slighted as it is, and by the great They live, and live without extorted alms
Abandoned, and, which still I more regret, From grudging hands; but other boast have none Infected with the manners and the modes To sooth their honest pride, that scorns to beg, It knew not once, the country wins me still. Nor comfort else, but in their mutual love.
I never framed a wish, or formed a plan, I praise you much, ye meek and patient pair, That flattered me with hopes of earthly bliss, For ye are worthy; choosing rather far
But there I laid the scene. There early strayed A dry but independent crust, hard earned,
My fancy, ere yet liberty of choice And eaten with a sigh, than to endure
Had found me, or the hope of being free. The rugged frowns and insolent rebuffs
My very dreams were rural; rural 100 Of knaves in office, partial in the work
The first-born efforts of my youthful Muse, Of distribution ; liberal of their aid
Sportive and jingling her poetic bells, To clamorous importunity in rags,
Ere yet her ear was mistress of their powers. But ost-times deaf to suppliants, who would blush No bard could please me but whose lyre was tuned To wear a tattered garb however coarse,
To Nature's praises. Heroes and their feats Whom fainine cannot reconcile to filth:
Fatigued me; never weary of the pipe These ask with painful shyness, and, refused Of Tityrus, assembling, as he sang, Because deserving, silently retire!
The rustic throng beneath his favourite beech. But be ye of good courage! Time itself
Then Milton had indeed a poet's charms: Shall much befriend you. Time shall give increase; New to my taste his Paradise surpassed And all your numerous progeny, well-trained The struggling efforts of my boyish tongue But helpless, in few years shall find their hands, To speak its excellence. I danced for joy. And labour too. Meanwhile ye shall not want I marvelled much that, at so ripe an age What, conscious of your virtues, we can spare,
As twice seven years, his beauties had then first
Engaged my wonder; and admiring still,
Sad witnessess how close-pent man regrets And still admiring, with regret supposed
The country, with what ardour he contrives 1 he joy half lost because not sooner found.
A peep at nature, when he can no more. Thee, too, enamoured of the life I loved,
Hail, therefore, patroness of health and ease, Pathetic in its praise, in its pursuit
And contemplation, heart-consoling joys Determined, and possessing it at last
And harmless pleasures, in the thronged abode With transports, such as favoured lovers feel, Of multitudes unknown; hail, rural life! I studied, prized, and wished that I had known, Address himself who will to the pursuit Ingenious Cowley! and, though now reclaimed Of honours, or emolument, or fame; By modern lights from an erroneous taste,
I shall not add myself to such a chase, I cannot but lament thy splendid wit
'Thwart his attempts, or envy his success. Entangled in the cobwebs of the schools,
Some must be great. Great offices will have I still revere thee, courtly though retired;
Great talents. And God gives to every man Though stretched at ease in Chertsey's silent bowers, The virtue, temper, understanding, taste, Not unemployed; and finding rich amends
That lifts him into life, and lets him fall For a lost world in solitude and verse.
Just in the niche he was ordained to fill. 'Tis born with all: the love of Nature's works To the deliverer of an injured land Is an ingredient in the compound man,
He gives a tongue to enlarge upon, a heart Infused at the creation of the kind.
To feel, and courage to redress her wrongs; And, though the Almighty Maker lias throughout To monarchs dignity; to judges sense; Discriminated each from each, by strokes
To artists ingenuity and skill; And touches of his hand, with so much art
To me, an unambitious mind, content Diversified, that two were never found
In the low vale of life, that early felt Twins at all points-yet this obtains in all,
A wish for ease and leisure, and ere long That all discern a beauty in his works, [formed Found here that leisure and that ease I wished. And all can taste them: minds, that have been And tutored with a relish more exact, But none without some relish, none unmoved.
THE WINTER MORNING WALK. It is a flame, that dies not even there,
'Tis morning; and the sun, with ruddy orb Where nothing feeds it: neither business, crowds, Ascending, fires the horizon; while the clouds, Nor habits of luxurious city-life,
That crowd away before the driving wind, Whatever else they smother of true worth
More ardent as the disk emerges more, In human bosoms, quench it or abate.
Resemble most some city in a blaze, The villas, with which London stands begirt, Seen through the leafless wood. His slanting ray Like a swarth Indian with his belt of beads,
Slides ineffectual down the snowy vale, Prove it. A breath of unadulterate air,
And, tinging all with his own rosy bue, The glimpse of a green pasture, how they cheer From every herb and every spiry blade The citizen, and brace his languid frame!
Stretches a length of shadow o'er the field. Evin in the stilling bosom of the town
Mine, spindling into longitude immense, A garden, in which nothing thrives, has charms, In spite of gravity, and sage remark That soothe the rich possessor; much consoled, That I myself am but a fleeting shade, That here and there some sprigs of mournful mint, Provokes me to a smile. With eye askance Of nightshade or valerian, grace the wall
I view the muscular proportioned limb He cultivates. These serve him with a hint Transformed to a lean shank. The shapeless pair, That nature lives; tliat sight-refreshing green As they designed to mock me, at my side Is still the livery she delights to wear,
Take step for step; and, as I near approach Though sickly samples of the exuberant whole.
The cottage, walk along the plastered wall, What are the casements lined with creeping herbs, Preposterous sight! the legs without the man. The prouder sashes fronted with a range
The verdure of the plain lies buried deep Of orange, myrtle, or the fragrant weed,
Beneath the dazzling deluge; and the bents, The Frenchman's darling? Are they not all proofs And coarser grass, upspearing o'er the rest, That man, immured in cities, still retains
Of late unsightly and upseen, now shine Ilis inborn inextinguishable thirst
Conspicuous, and in bright apparel clad, Of rural scenes, compensating his loss
And fledged with icy feathers, nod superb. By supplemental shifts, the best he may?
The cattle mourn in corners where the fence The most unfurnished with the means of life, Screens them, and seem half petrified to sleep And they, that never pass their brick-wall bounds In unrecumbent sadness. There they wait To range the fields and treat their lungs with air, Their wonted fodder ; not like hungering man, Yet feel the burning instinct: over-head
Fretful if unsupplied; but silent, meek, Suspend their crazy boxes, planted thick,
And patient of the slow-paced swain's delay. And watered duly. There the pitcher stands He from the stack carves out the accustomed load, A fragment, and the spoutless tea-pot there; Deep-plunging, and again deep-plunging ost,
His broad keen knife into the solid mass :
O'erwhelming all distinction. On the flood,
Lies undissolved; while silently beneath,
And unperceived, the current steals away. Lest storms should overset the leaning pile
Not so where, scornful of a check, it leaps Deciduous, or its own unbalanced weight.
The mill-dam, dashes on the restless wheel, Forth goes the woodman, leaving unconcerned And wantons in the pebbly gulph below: The cheerful haunts of man, to wield the axe No frost can bind it there; its utmost force And drive the wedge in yonder forest drear, Can but arrest the light and smoky mist, From morn to eve his solitary task.
That in its fall the liquid sheet throws wide. Shaggy, and lean, and shrewd, with pointed ears And see where it has hung the embroidered banks And tail cropped short, half lurcher and half cur, With forms so various, that no powers of art, His dog attends him. Close behind his heel The pencil or the pen, may trace the scene ! Now creeps he slow; and now, with many a frisk Here glittering turrets rise, upbearing high Wide-scampering, snatches up the drifted snow (Fantastic misarrangement!) on the roof With ivory teeth, or ploughs it with his snout; Large growth of what may seem the sparkling trees Then shakes his powdered coat, and barks for joy. And shrubs of fairy land. The crystal drops, Heedless of all his pranks, the sturdy churl
That trickle down the branches, fast congealed, Moves right toward the mark: nor stops for aught, Shoot into pillars of pellucid length, But now and then with pressure of his thumb And prop the pile they but adorned before. To adjust the fragrant charge of a short tube, Here grotto within grotto safe defies That fumes beneath his nose: the trailing cloud The sun-beam; there, embossed and fretted wild, Streams far behind him, scenting all the air. The growing wonder takes a thousand shapes Now from the roost, or from the neighbouring pale, Capricious, in which fancy seeks in vain Where, diligent to catch the first faint gleam The likeness of some object seen berore. Of smiling day, they gossiped side by side,
Thus nature works as if to mock at art, Come trooping at the housewife's well-known call And in defiance of her rival powers; The feathered tribes domestic. Half on wing, By these fortuitous and random strokes And half on foot, they brush the fleecy flood, Performing such inimitable feats, Conscious and fearful of too deep a plunge.
As she with all her rules can never reach. The sparrows peep, and quit the sheltering eaves Less worthy of applause, though more admired, To seize the fair occasion. Well they eye
Because a novelty, the work of man, The scattered grain, and thievishly resolved Imperial mistress of the fur-clad Russ! To escape the impending famine, often scared Thy most magnificent and mighty freak, As oft return, a pert voracious kind.
The wonder of the North. No forest fell Clean riddance quickly made, one only care When thou wouldst build; no quarry sent its store Remains to each, the search of sunny nook,
To enrich thy walls: but thou didst hew the floods,
In such a palace Aristæus found
Of his lost bees to her maternal ear:
In such a palace poetry might place
And wraps him in an unexpected tomb.
Ice upon ice, the well-adjusted parts
Were soon conjoined, nor other cement asked Thins all their numerous flocks. In chinks and holes Than water interfused to make them one. Ten thousand seek an unmolested end,
Lamps gracefully disposed, and of all hues, As instinct prompts; self-buried ere they die. Illumined every side: a watery light (seemed The very rooks and daws forsake the fields, Gleamed through the clear transparency, that Where neither grub, nor root, nor earth-nut, now Another moon new risen, or meteor fallen Repays their labour more; and perched aloft From heaven to earth, of lambent flame serene. By the way-side, or stalking in the path,
So stood the brittle prodigy; though smooth Lean pensioners upon the traveller's track,
And slippery the materials, yet frost-bound, Pick up their nauseous dole, though sweet to them, Firm as a rock. Nor wanted aught within Of voided pulse or half-digested grain.
That royal residence might well befit, The streams are lost amid the splendid blank, For grandeur or for use. Long wavy wreaths
Of flowers, that feared no enemy but warmth, In politic convention) put your trust
In fancied peace beneath his dangerous branch, Convivial table and commodious seat
Rejoice in him, and celebrate his sway; (What seemed at least commodious seat) were there; Where find ye passive fortitude! Whence springs Sofa, and couch, and high-built throne august. Your self-denying zeal, that holds it good The same lubricity was found in all,
To stroke the prickly grievance, and to hang And all was moist to the warm touch : a scene His thorns with streamers of continual praise ? Of evanescent glory, once a stream,
We too are friends to loyalty. We love And soon to slide into a stream again.
The king, who loves the law, respects his bounds, Alas! 'twas but a mortifying stroke
And reigns content within them: him we serve Of undesigned severity, that glanced
Freely and with delight, who leaves us free: (Made by a monarch) on her own estate,
But recollecting still that he is man, On human grandeur and the courts of kings. We trust him not too far. King though he be, 'Twas transient in its nature, as in show
And king in England too, he may be weak, 'Twas durable; as worthless, as it seemed
And vain enough to be ambitious still; Intrinsically precious; to the foot
May exercise amiss his proper powers, Treacherous and false ; it smiled, and it was cold. Or covet more than freemen choose to grant: Great princes have great playthings. Some have Beyond that mark is treason. He is ours played
To administer, to guard, to adorn, the state, At hewing mountains into men, and some
But not to warp or change it. We are his At building human wonders mountain-high. To serve him nobly in the common cause, Some have amused the dull, sad years of life, True to the death, but not to be his slaves. (Life spent in infolence, and therefore sad) Mark now the difference, ye that boast your love With schemes of monumental fame; and sought Of kings, between your loyalty and ours. By pyramids and mausolean pomp,
We love the man, the paltry pageant you:
You the regardless author of its woes:
Yours, a blind instinct, crouches to the rod,
And licks the foot, that treads it in the dust.
Were kingship as true treasure as it seems,
I would not be a king to be beloved
Causeless, and daubed with undiscerning praise, Such dupes are men to custom, and so prone
Where love is mere attachment to the throne, To reverence'what is ancient, and can plead Not to the man, who fills it as he ought. A course of long observance for its use,
'Tis liberty alone that gives the flower That even servitude, the worst of ills,
Of fleeting life its lustre and perfume; Because delivered down from sire to son,
And we are weeds without it. All constraint, Is kept and guarded as a sacred thing.
Except what wisdom lays on evil men, But is it fit, or can it bear the shock
Is evil: hurts the faculties, impedes Of rational discussion, that a man,
Their progress in the road of science; blinds Compounded and made up like other men
The eyesight of discovery; and begets Of elements tumultuous, in whom lust
In those that suffer it, a sordid mind And folly in as ample measure meet,
Bestial, a meagre intellect, uufit As in the bosoms of the slaves he rules,
To be the tenant of man's noble form. Should be a despot absolute, and boast
Thee therefore still, blame-worthy as thou art, Himself the only freeman of his land?
With all thy loss of empire, and though squeezed Should, when he pleases, and on whom he will, By public exigence till annual food Wage war, with any or with no pretence
Fails for the craving hunger of the state, Of provocation given, or wrong sustained,
Thee I account still happy, and the chief And force the beggarly last doit, by means
Among the nations, seeing thou art free; That his own humour dictates, from the clutch My native nook of earth! Thy clime is rude, Of poverty, that thus he may procure
and disposes much His thousands, weary of penurious life,
All hearts to sadness, and none more than mine: A splendid opportunity to die?
Thine unadulterate manners are less soft Say ye, who (with less prudence than of old
And plausible than social life requires, Jothan ascribed to his assembled trees
And thou hast need of disciplina and art