« PreviousContinue »
Beneath the whole collected shade reclines,
Or in the gelid caverns, woodbine-wrought
And fresh bedewed with ever-sprouting streams,
Sits coolly calm, while all the world without,
Unsatisfied and sick, tosses in noon:
Emblem instructive of the virtuous man,
Who keeps his tempered mind serene and pure,
And every passion aptly harmonized,
Amid a jarring world with vice inflamed.
How changed the scene! In blazing height of noon
The sun, oppressed, is plunged in thickest gloom;
Still horror reigns, a dreary twilight round
Of struggling night and day malignant mixed;
For, to the hot equator crowding fast,
Where, highly rarefied, the yielding air
Admits their stream, incessant vapours roll-
Amazing clouds on clouds continual heaped,
Or whirled tempestuous by the gusty wind,
Or silent borne along, heavy and slow,
With the big stores of steaming oceans charged.
Meantime, amid these upper seas, condensed
Around the cold aërial mountain's brow
And by conflicting winds together dashed,
The Thunder holds his black tremendous throne;
From cloud to cloud the rending lightnings rage;
Till, in the furious elemental war
Dissolved, the whole precipitated mass
Unbroken floods and solid torrents pour.
Come, gentle Spring, ethereal mildness, come!
And from the bosom of yon dropping cloud,
While music wakes around, veiled in a shower
Of shadowing roses, on our plains descend !
O Hertford, fitted or to shine in courts
With unaffected grace, or walk the plain
With Innocence and Meditation joined
In soft assemblage, listen to my song,
Which thy own season paints, when Nature all
Is blooming and benevolent, like thee.
And see where surly Winter passes off,
Far to the north, and calls his ruffian blasts :
His blasts obey, and quit the howling hill,
The shattered forest, and the ravaged vale;
While softer gales succeed, at whose kind touch-
Dissolving snows in livid torrents lost-
The mountains lift their green heads to the sky.
As yet the trembling year is unconfirmed,
And Winter oft at eve resumes the breeze,
Chills the pale morn, and bids his driving sleets
Deform the day delightless; so that scarce
The bittern knows his time, with bill engulfed,
To shake the sounding
or from the shore
The plovers when to scatter o'er the heath
And sing their wild notes to the listening waste.
At last from Aries rolls the bounteous sun,
And the bright Bull receives him. Then no more
Th’ expansive atmosphere is cramped with cold,
But, full of life and vivifying soul,
Lifts the light clouds sublime and spreads them thin,
Fleecy and white, o'er all-surrounding heaven;
Forth fly the tepid airs, and, unconfined,
Unbinding earth, the moving softness strays.
Joyous, th' impatient husbandman perceives
Relenting Nature, and his lusty steers
Drives from their stalls, to where the well-used plough
Lies in the furrow, loosened from the frost;
There, unrefusing, to the harnessed yoke
They lend their shoulder, and begin their toil,
Cheered by the simple song and soaring lark;
Meanwhile incumbent o'er the shining share
The master leans, removes th' obstructing clay,
Winds the whole work, and sidelong lays the glebe.
White through the neighbouring fields the sower stalks,
With measured step, and liberal throws the grain
Into the faithful bosom of the ground;
The harrow follows harsh, and shuts the scene.
Be gracious, Heaven! for now laborious man
Has done his part. Ye fostering breezes, blow!
Ye softening dews, ye tender showers, descend!
And temper all, thou world-reviving sun,
Into the perfect year! Nor ye who live
In luxury and ease, in pomp and pride,
Think these lost themes unworthy of your ear.
Such themes as these the rural Maro sung
To wide-imperial Rome, in the full height
Of elegance and taste, by Greece refined.
In ancient times, the sacred plough employed
The kings and awful fathers of mankind;
And some, with whom compared your insect tribes
Are but the beings of a summer's day,
Have held the scale of empire, ruled the storm
Of mighty war, then with victorious hand,
Disdaining little delicacies, seized
The plough, and, greatly independent, scorned
All the vile stores corruption can bestow.
Ye generous Britons, venerate the plough;
And o'er your hills and long-withdrawing vales
Let Autumn spread his treasures to the sun,
Luxuriant and unbounded! As the sea,
Far through his azure, turbulent domain,
Your empire owns, and from a thousand shores
Wafts all the pomp of life into your ports,
So with superior boon may your rich soil,
Exuberant, Nature's better blessings pour
O’er every land, the naked nations clothe,
And be th' exhaustless granary of a world.
Nor only through the lenient air this change,
Delicious, breathes : the penetrative sun,
His force deep-darting to the dark retreat
Of vegetation, sets the steaming power
At large, to wander o'er the verdant earth,
In various hues—but chiefly thee, gay green!
Thou smiling Nature's universal robe,
United light and shade, where the sight dwells
With growing strength and ever new delight.
From the moist meadow to the withered hill,
Led by the breeze, the vivid verdure runs,
And swells and deepens to the cherished eye.
The hawthorn whitens; and the juicy groves
Put forth their buds, unfolding by degrees,
Till the whole leafy forest stands displayed
In full luxuriance to the sighing gales,
Where the deer rustle through the twining brake,
And the birds sing concealed. At once, arrayed
In all the colours of the flushing year
By Nature's swift and secret-working hand,
The garden glows, and fills the liberal air
With lavished fragrance, while the promised fruit
Lies yet a little embryo, unperceived,
Within its crimson folds. Now from the town,
Buried in smoke and sleep and noisome damps,
Oft let me wander o'er the dewy fields,
Where freshness breathes, and dash the trembling drops
From the bent bush, as through the verdant maze
105 Of sweet-briar hedges I pursue my walk; Or taste the smell of dairy; or ascend Some eminence, Augusta, in thy plains, And see the country, far diffused around, One boundless blush, one white-empurpled shower Of mingled blossoms, where the raptured eye Hurries from joy to joy, and, hid beneath The fair profusion, yellow Autumn spies.
But see! the fading many-coloured woods,
Shade deepening over shade, the country round
Imbrown, a crowded umbrage, dusk and dun,
Of every hue from wan declining green
To sooty dark. These now the lonesome Muse,
Low-whispering, lead into their leaf-strown walks,
And give the season in its latest view.
Meantime, light-shadowing all, a sober calm
Fleeces unbounded ether, whose least wave
Stands tremulous, uncertain where to turn
The gentle current, while, illumined wide,
The dewy-skirted clouds imbibe the sun,
And through their lucid veil his softened force
Shed o'er the peaceful world. Then is the time,
For those whom wisdom and whom Nature charm,
To steal themselves from the degenerate crowd,
And soar above this little scene of things,
To tread low-thoughted Vice beneath their feet,
To soothe the throbbing passions into peace,
And woo lone Quiet in her silent walks.
Thus solitary, and in pensive guise,
Oft let me wander o'er the russet mead
And through the saddened grove, where scarce is heard
One dying strain to cheer the woodman's toil.
Haply some widowed songster pours his plaint,
Far, in faint warblings, through the tawny copse;
While congregated thrushes, linnets, larks,
And each wild throat whose artless strains so late
Swelled all the music of the swarming shades,
Robbed of their tuneful souls, now shivering sit
On the dead tree, a dull despondent flock,
With not a brightness waving o'er their plumes,
And naught save chattering discord in their note.
Oh, let not, aimed from some inhuman eye,
The gun the music of the coming year
Destroy, and harmless, unsuspecting harm,
Lay the weak tribes a miserable prey,
In mingled murder fluttering on the ground!
The pale descending year, yet pleasing still,
A gentler mood inspires: for now the leaf
Incessant rustles from the mournful grove,
Oft startling such as, studious, walk below,'
And slowly circles through the waving air;
But should a quicker breeze amid the boughs
Sob, o'er the sky the leafy deluge streams,
Till, choked and matted with the dreary shower,
The forest walks, at every rising gale,
Roll wide the withered waste and whistle bleak.
Fled is the blasted verdure of the fields,
And, shrunk into their beds, the flowery race
Their sunny robes resign; even what remained
Of stronger fruits fall from the naked tree;
And woods, fields, gardens, orchards, all around,
The desolated prospect thrills the soul.