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See her bright robes the butterfly unfold,
Broke from her wintry tomb in prime of May.
What youthful bride can equal her array?
Who can with her for easy pleasure vie?
From mead to mead with gentle wing to stray,
From flower to flower on balmy gales to fly,
Is all she has to do beneath the radiant sky.
"Outcast of Nature, man! the wretched thrall
Of bitter-dropping sweat, of sweltry pain,
Of cares that eat away thy heart with gall,
And of the vices, an inhuman train,
That all proceed from savage thirst of gain:
For when hard-hearted Interest first began
To poison earth, Astræa left the plain;
Guile, violence, and murder seized on man,
And, for soft milky streams, with blood the rivers ran.
"Behold the merry minstrels of the morn,
The swarming songsters of the careless grove,
Ten thousand throats that, from the flowering thorn,
Hymn their good God and carol sweet of love,
Such grateful kindly raptures them emove!
They neither plough nor sow; ne, fit for flail,
E'er to the barn the nodding sheaves they drove;
Yet theirs each harvest dancing in the gale,
Whatever crowns the hill or smiles along the vale.
"O grievous folly! to heap up estate,
Losing the days you see beneath the sun;
When, sudden, comes blind unrelenting Fate,
And gives th' untasted portion you have won,
With ruthless toil and many a wretch undone,
To those who mock you, gone to Pluto's reign,
There with sad ghosts to pine, and shadows dun.
But sure it is of vanities most vain
To toil for what you here, untoiling, may obtain."
He ceased. But still their trembling ears retained
The deep vibrations of his witching song,
That, by a kind of magic power, constrained
To enter in, pell-mell, the listening throng:
Heaps poured on heaps, and yet they slipped along
In silent ease; as when beneath the beam
Of summer moons, the distant woods among,
Or by some flood all silvered with the gleam,
The soft-embodied fays through airy portal stream.
Yet through the gate they cast a wishful eye;
Not to move on, perdie, is all they can,
For do their very best they cannot fly,
But often each way look and often sorely sigh.
By the smooth demon so it ordered was,
And here his baneful bounty first began,
Though some there were who would not further pass, 120
And his alluring baits suspected han
The wise distrust the too fair-spoken man:
When this the watchful wicked wizard saw,
With sudden spring he leaped upon them strait;
And, soon as touched by his unhallowed paw,
They found themselves within the cursed gate,
Full hard to be repassed, like that of Fate:
Not stronger were of old the giant crew
Who sought to pull high Jove from regal state;
Though feeble wretch he seemed, of sallow hue,
Certes, who bides his grasp will that encounter rue.
The lad leaped lightly at his master's call:
He was, to weet, a little roguish page,
Save sleep and play who minded naught at all,
Like most the untaught striplings of his age.
Waked by the crowd, slow from his bench arose A comely full-spred porter, swoln with sleep: His calm, broad, thoughtless aspect breathed repose, And in sweet torpor he was plunged deep, Ne could himself from ceaseless yawning keep, While o'er his eyes the drowsy liquor ran, Through which his half-waked soul would faintly peep; Then, taking his black staff, he called his man, And roused himself as much as rouse himself he can.
This boy he kept each band to disengage,
Garters and buckles, task for him unfit,
But ill becoming his grave personage,
And which his portly paunch would not permit;
So this same limber page to all performèd it.
Meantime the master-porter wide displayed
Great store of caps, of slippers, and of gowns;
Wherewith he those who entered in arrayed,
Loose as the breeze that plays along the downs
And waves the summer woods when evening frowns:
Oh fair undress, best dress! it checks no vein,
But every flowing limb in pleasure drowns,
And heightens ease with grace. This done, right fain Sir Porter sat him down, and turned to sleep again.
This rite performed, all inly pleased and still,
Withouten tromp was proclamation made:
"Ye sons of Indolence, do what you will,
And wander where you list through hall or glade;
Be no man's pleasure for another stayed;
Let each as likes him best his hours employ,
And cursed be he who minds his neighbour's trade!
Here dwells kind Ease and unreproving Joy:
He little merits bliss who others can annoy."
Thus easy robed, they to the fountain sped
That in the middle of the court up-threw
A stream, high-spouting from its liquid bed,
And falling back again in drizzly dew;
There each deep draughts, as deep he thirsted, drew:
It was a fountain of nepenthe rare,
Whence, as Dan Homer sings, huge pleasaunce grew, And sweet oblivion of vile earthly care, Fair gladsome waking thoughts, and joyous dreams more fair.
Strait of these endless numbers, swarming round
As thick as idle motes in sunny ray,
Not one eftsoons in view was to be found,
But every man strolled off his own glad way:
Wide o'er this ample court's blank area,
With all the lodges that thereto pertained,
No living creature could be seen to stray;
While solitude and perfect silence reigned,
So that to think you dreamt you almost was constrained.
The doors, that knew no shrill alarming bell
Ne cursed knocker plied by villain's hand,
Self-opened into halls, where who can tell
What elegance and grandeur wide expand,
The pride of Turkey and of Persia land?—
Soft quilts on quilts, on carpets carpets spread,
And couches stretch around in seemly band,
And endless pillows rise to prop the head;
So that each spacious room was one full-swelling bed.
Here freedom reigned, without the least alloy;
Nor gossip's tale, nor ancient maiden's gall,
Nor saintly spleen, durst murmur at our joy,
And with envenomed tongue our pleasures pall:
For why? there was but one great rule for all,
To wit, that each should work his own desire,
And eat, drink, study, sleep, as it may fall,
Or melt the time in love, or wake the lyre,
And carol what, unbid, the Muses might inspire.
The rooms with costly tapestry were hung,
Where was inwoven many a gentle tale,
Such as of old the rural poets sung
Or of Arcadian or Sicilian vale:
Reclining lovers, in the lonely dale,
Poured forth at large the sweetly tortured heart.
And everywhere huge covered tables stood,
With wines high-flavoured and rich viands crowned; 200 Whatever sprightly juice or tasteful food
On the green bosom of this earth are found, And all old ocean genders in his round: Some hand unseen these silently displayed, Even undemanded by a sign or sound; You need but wish, and, instantly obeyed, Fair-ranged the dishes rose, and thick the glasses played.
Or, looking tender passion, swelled the gale,
And taught charmed Echo to resound their smart,
While flocks, woods, streams, around, repose and peace
Those pleased the most, where, by a cunning hand,
Depainted was the patriarchal age:
What time Dan Abraham left the Chaldee land,
And pastured on from verdant stage to stage,
Where fields and fountains fresh could best engage. 230
Toil was not then; of nothing took they heed
But with wild beasts the sylvan war to wage,
And o'er vast plains their herds and flocks to feed:
Blest sons of Nature they! true Golden Age indeed!
Sometimes the pencil, in cool airy halls,
Bade the gay bloom of vernal landskips rise,
Or autumn's varied shades imbrown the walls;
Now the black tempest strikes the astonished eyes;
Now down the steep the flashing torrent flies;
The trembling sun now plays o'er ocean blue,
And now rude mountains frown amid the skies:
Whate'er Lorraine light-touched with softening hue,
Or savage Rosa dashed, or learnèd Poussin drew.
Each sound, too, here to languishment inclined,
Lulled the weak bosom, and inducèd ease.
Aëreal music in the warbling wind,
At distance rising oft, by small degrees
Nearer and nearer came, till o'er the trees
It hung and breathed such soul-dissolving airs
As did, alas! with soft perdition please:
Intangled deep in its enchanting snares,
The listening heart forgot all duties and all cares.
A certain music, never known before,
Here lulled the pensive, melancholy mind;
Full easily obtained: behoves no more
But sidelong to the gently waving wind
To lay the well-tuned instrument reclined;
From which, with airy flying fingers light,
Beyond each mortal touch the most refined,