Page images
PDF
EPUB

No sofa then awaited my return; Nor SOFA then I needed. Youth repairs His wasted spirits quickly, by long toil Incurring short fatigue ; and, though our years As life declines speed rapidly away, And not a year but pilfers as he goes Some youthful grace that age would gladly keep; A tooth or auburn lock, and by degrees Their length and colour from the locks they spare ; Th' elastic spring of an unwearied foot That mounts the style with ease, or leaps the fence, That play of lungs, inhaling and again Respiring freely the fresh air, that makes Swift pace or steep ascent no toil to me, Mine have not pilfer'd yet ; nor yet impair'd My relish of fair prospect ; scenes that sooth'd Or charm'd me young, no longer young, I find Still soothing, and of pow'r to charm me still. And witness, dear companion of my walks, Whose arm this twentieth winter I perceive Fast lock'd in mine, with pleasure such as love, Confirm’d by long experience of thy worth And well-tried virtues, could alone inspire.... Witness a joy that thou hast doubled long. Thou know'st my praise of nature most sincere, And that my raptures are not conjur'd up To serve occasions of poetic pomp, But genuine, and art partner of them all. How oft upon yon eminence our pace

Has slackend to a pause, and we have borne The ruffling wind, scarce conscious that it blew, While admiration, feeding at the eye, And still unsated, dwelt upon the scene. Thence with what pleasure have we just discern'd The distant plough slow moving, and beside His lab'ring team, that swery'd not from the track, The sturdy swain diminish'd to a boy! Here Ouse, slow winding through a level plain Of spacious meads with cattle sprinkled o'er, Conducts the eye along his sinuous course Delighted. There, fast rooted in their bank, Stand, never overlook'd, our favourite elms, That screen the herdsman's solitary hut; While far beyond, and overthwart the stream That, as with molten glass, inlays the vale, The sloping land recedes into the clouds ; Displaying on its varied side the grace Of hedge-row beauties numberless, square tow'r, Tall spire, from which the sound of cheerful bells Just undulates upon the list'ning ear, Groves, heaths, and smoking villages, remote. Scenes must be beautiful, which, daily view'd Please daily, and whose novelty survives Long knowledge and the scrutiny of years. Praise justly due to those that I describe.

Nor rural sights alone, but rural sounds, Exhilarate the spirit, and restore

" B

B

The tone of languid nature. Mighty winds,
That sweep the skirt of some far-spreading wood
Of ancient growth, make music not unlike
The dash of ocean on his winding shore,
And lull the spirit while they fill the mind;
Unnumber'd branches waving in the blast,
And all their leaves fast Autt'ring, all at once.
Nor less composure waits upon the roar
Of distant floods, or on the softer voice
Of neighb'ring fountain, or of rills that slip
Through the cleft rock, and chiming as they fall
Upon loose pebbles, lose themselves at length
In matted grass, that with a livelier green
Betrays the secret of their silent course.
Nature inanimate employs sweet sounds,
But animated nature sweeter still,
To sooth and satisfy the human ear.
Ten thousand warblers cheer the day, and one
The live-long night: nor these alone, whose notes
Nice finger'd art must emulate in vain,
But cawing rooks, and kites that swim sublime
In still repeated circles, screaming loud,
The jay, the pie, and ev'n the boding owl
That hails the rising moon, have charms for me.
Sounds inharmonious in themselves and harsh,
Yet heard in scenes where peace for ever reigns,
And only there, please highly for their sake.

Peace to the artist, whose ingenious thought Devis'd the weather-house, that useful toy! Fearless of humid air and gathering rains, Forth steps the man....an emblem of myself! More delicate, his tim'rous mate retires. When Winter soaks the fields, and female feet, Too weak to struggle with tenacious clay, Or ford the rivulets, are best at home, The task of new discov'ries falls on me. At such a season, and with such a charge, Once went I forth; and found, till then unknown, A cottage, whither oft we since repair : 'Tis perch'd upon the green-hill top, but close Environd with a ring of branching elms That overhang the thatch, itself unseen Peeps at the vale below; so thick beset With foliage of such dark redundant growth, I call'd the low-roof'd lodge the peasant's nest. And, hidden as it is, and far remote From such unpleasing sounds as haunt the ear In village or in town, the bay of curs Incessant, clinking hammers, grinding wheels, And infants clam'rous whether pleas’d or pain’d, Oft have I wish’d the peaceful covert mine. Here, I have said, at least I should possess The poet's treasure, silence, and indulge The dreams of fancy, tranquil and secure. Vain thought! the dweller in that still retreát Dearly obtains the refuge it affords.

[ocr errors]

Its elevated scite forbids the wretch To drink sweet waters of the crystal well; He dips his bowl into the weedy ditch, i And, heavy-laden, brings his bev'rage home, Far fetch'd and little worth ; nor seldom waits, Dependant on the baker's punctual call, To hear his creaking panniers at the door, Angry and sad, and his last crust consum'd. So farewell envy of the peasant's nest ! If solitude make scant the means of life, Society for me !....thou seeming sweet, Be still a pleasing object in my view; My visit still, but never mine abode.

Not distant far, a length of colonnade
Invites us. Monument of ancient taste,
Now scorn'd, but worthy of a better fate.
Our fathers knew the value of a screen
From sultry suns; and, in their shaded walks
And long-protracted bow'rs, enjoy'd at noon
The gloom and coolness of declining day.
We bear our shades about us; self-depriv'd
Of other screen, the thin umbrella spread, ..
And range an Indian waste without a tree.
Thanks to Benevolus*....he spares me yet
These chesnuts rang'd in corresponding lines ;

[merged small][ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »