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At first thin wavering, till at last the flakes
Fall broad and wide and fast, dimming the day
With a continual flow. The cherished fields
Put on their winter robe of purest white;
'T is brightness all, save where the new snow melts
Along the mazy current; low the woods
Bow their hoar head; and ere the languid sun
Faint from the west emits his evening ray,
Earth's universal face, deep-hid and chill,
Is one wild dazzling waste, that buries wide
The works of man. Drooping, the labourer-ox
Stands covered o'er with snow, and then demands
The fruit of all his toil. The fowls of heaven,
Tamed by the cruel season, crowd around
The winnowing store, and claim the little boon
Which Providence assigns them. One alone,
The redbreast, sacred to the household gods,
Wisely regardful of th' embroiling sky,
In joyless fields and thorny thickets leaves
His shivering mates, and pays to trusted man
His annual visit: Half-afraid, he first
Against the window beats; then brisk alights
On the warm hearth; then, hopping o'er the floor,
Eyes all the smiling fanily askance,
And pecks, and starts, and wonders where he is,
Till, more familiar grown, the table-crumbs
Attract his slender feet. The foodless wilds
Pour forth their brown inhabitants. The hare,
Though timorous of heart and hard beset
By death in various forms—dark snares, and dogs,
And more unpitying men,—the garden seeks,
Urged on by fearless want. The bleating kind
Eye the black heaven, and next the glistening earth,
With looks of dumb despair; then, sad dispersed,
Dig for the withered herb through heaps of snow.

Now, shepherds, to your helpless charge be kind :
Baffle the raging year, and fill their pens
With food at will; lodge them below the storm,
And watch them strict, for from the bellowing east,
In this dire season, oft the whirlwind's wing
Sweeps up the burthen of whole wintry plains





At one wide waft, and o'er the hapless flocks,
Hid in the hollow of two neighbouring hills,

The billowy tempest whelms, till, upward urged,
The valley to a shining mountain swells,
Tipt with a wreath high-curling in the sky,

As thus the snows arise, and foul and fierce All Winter drives along the darkened air,

55 In his own loose-revolving fields the swain Disastered stands; sees other hills ascend, Of unknown, joyless brow, and other scenes, Of horrid prospect, shag the trackless plain; Nor finds the river nor the forest, hid

бо Beneath the formless wild, but wanders on From hill to dale, still more and more astray, Impatient flouncing through the drifted heaps, Stung with the thoughts of home. The thoughts of home Rush on his nerves, and call their vigour forth

65 In many a vain attempt. How sinks his soul, What black despair, what horror fills his heart, When, for the dusky spot which fancy feigned His tufted cottage rising through the snow, He meets the roughness of the middle waste,

70 Far from the track and blest abode of man, While round him night resistless closes fast, And every tempest, howling o'er his head, Renders the savage wilderness more wild ! Then throng the busy shapes into his mind

75 Of covered pits unfathomably deep (A dire descent !), beyond the power of frost; Of faithless bogs; of precipices huge, Smoothed

up with snow; and—what is land unknown, What water-of the still unfrozen spring,

80 In the loose marsh or solitary lake, Where the fresh fountain from the bottom boils. These check his fearful steps; and down he sinks Beneath the shelter of the shapeless drift, Thinking o'er all the bitterness of death, Mixed with the tender anguish. nature shoots Through the wrung bosom of the dying manHis wife, his children, and his friends unseen. In vain for him th' officious wife prepares



The fire fair-blazing and the vestment warm;
In vain his little children, peeping out
Into the mingling storm, demand their sire,
With tears of artless innocence. Alas!
Nor wife nor children more shall he behold,
Nor friends nor sacred home: on every nerve
The deadly Winter seizes, shuts up sense,
And, o'er his inmost vitals creeping cold,
Lays him along the snows a stiffened corse,
Stretched out and bleaching in the northern blast.







Now swarms the village o'er the joyful mead:
The rustic youth, brown with meridian toil,
Healthful and strong; full as the summer rose
Blown by prevailing suns, the ruddy maid,
Half naked, swelling on the sight, and all
Her kindled graces burning o'er her cheek;
Even stooping age is here; and infant hands
Trail the long rake, or, with the fragrant load
O'ercharged, amid the kind oppression roll.
Wide flies the tedded grain; all in a row
Advancing broad, or wheeling round the field,
They spread the breathing harvest to the sun,
That throws refreshful round a rural smell :
Or, as they rake the green-appearing ground,
And drive the dusky wave along the mead,
The russet hay-cock rises thick behind,
In order gay: while, heard from dale to dale,
Waking the breeze, resounds the blended voice
Of happy labour, love, and social glee.

Or, rushing thence in one diffusive band,
They drive the troubled flocks, by many a dog
Compelled, to where the mazy-running brook
Forms a deep pool, this bank abrupt and high,
And that fair-spreading in a pebbled shore.
Urged to the giddy brink, much is the toil,
The clamour much, of men and boys and dogs,



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Ere the soft fearful people to the flood
Commit their woolly sides; and oft the swain,
On some impatient seizing, hurls them in:
Emboldened then, nor hesitating more,
Fast, fast they plunge amid the flashing wave,
And, panting, labour to the farther shore.
Repeated this, till deep the well-washed fleece
Has drunk the flood, and from his lively haunt
The trout is banished by the sordid stream,
Heavy and dripping, to the breezy brow
Slow move the harmless race; where, as they spread
Their swelling treasures to the sunny ray,
Inly disturbed, and wondering what this wild
Outrageous tumult means, their loud complaints
The country fill, and, tossed from rock to rock,
Incessant bleatings run around the hills.
At last, of snowy white, the gathered flocks
Are in the wattled pen innumerous pressed,
Head above head; and, ranged in lusty rows,
The shepherds sit and whet the sounding shears.
The housewife waits to roll her fleecy stores,
With all her gay-drest maids attending round:
One, chief, in gracious dignity enthroned,
Shines o'er the rest, the pastoral queen, and rays
Her smiles, sweet-beaming, on her shepherd-king,
While the glad circle round them yield their souls
To festive mirth and wit that knows no gall.
Meantime their joyous task goes on apace:
Some, mingling, stir the melted tar, and some
Deep on the new-shorn vagrant's heaving side
To stamp his master's cipher ready stand;
Others the unwilling wether drag along;
And, glorying in his might, the sturdy boy
Holds by the twisted horns th' indignant ram.
Behold where, bound and of its robe bereft
By needy man, that all-depending lord,
How meek, how patient the mild creature lies !
What softness in its melancholy face,
What dumb complaining innocence, appears !
Fear not, ye gentle tribes, 't is not the knife
Of horrid slaughter that is o'er you waved;




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No, 't is the tender swain's well-guided shears,
Who having now, to pay his annual care,
Borrowed your fleece, to you a cumbrous load,
Will send you bounding to your hills again.

A simple scene: yet hence Britannia sees
Her solid grandeur rise; hence she commands
Th’ exalted stores of every brighter clime,
The treasures of the sun without his rage;
Hence, fervent all, with culture, toil, and arts,
Wide glows her land; her dreadful thunder hence
Rides o'er the waves sublime, and now, even now,
Impending hangs o'er Gallia's humbled coast;
Hence rules the circling deep, and awes the world.

'T is raging noon; and, vertical, the sun
Darts on the head direct his forceful rays.
O'er heaven and earth, far as the ranging eye
Can sweep, a dazzling deluge reigns, and all
From pole to pole is undistinguished blaze.
In vain the sight, dejected to the ground,
Stoops for relief; thence hot-ascending steams
And keen reflection pain. Deep to the root
Of vegetation parched, the cleaving fields
And slippery lawn an arid hue disclose,
Blast Fancy's bloom, and wither even the soul.
Echo no more returns the cheerful sound
Of sharpening scythe; the mower, sinking, heaps
O'er him the humid hay, with flowers perfumed;
And scarce a chirping grasshopper is heard
Through the dumb mead. Distressful Nature pants.
The very streams look languid from afar,
Or through th' unsheltered glade, impatient, seem
To hurl into the covert of the grove.
All-conquering Heat, oh intermit thy wrath!
And on my throbbing temples, potent thus,
Beam not so fierce! Incessant still you flow,
And still another fervent flood succeeds,
Poured on the head profuse. In vain I sigh,
And restless turn, and look around for night:
Night is far off, and hotter hours approach.
Thrice happy he who on the sunless side
Of a romantic mountain, forest-crowned,





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