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Shall proftrate Nature groan beneath your rage,
Awaiting renovation ? When obliged,
Must you destroy ? Of their ambrosial food
Can you not borrow; and, in just return,
Afford them shelter from the wintry winds;
Or, as the sharp year pinches, with their own
Again regale them on some smiling day ?
See where the stony bottom of their town
1195 Looks desolate, and wild; with here and there A helpless number, who the ruin'd state Survive, lamenting weak, cast out to death. Thus, a proud city, populous and rich, Full of the works of peace, and high in joy, At theatre or feast, or funk in sleep, (As late, Palermo, was thy fate) is feiz'd By some dread earthquake, and convulfive hurl'd Sheer from the black foundation, stench-involv'd, Into a gulph of blue sulphureous flame. 1205
Hence every harsher fight! for
harsher sight! for now the day, O’er heaven and earth diffus’d, grows warm, and high, Infinite splendor ! wide investing all. How still the breeze! fave what the filmy threads Of dew evaporate brushes from the plain.
How clear the cloudless sky! how deeply ting'd
With a peculiar blue ! the ethereal arch
How swell'd immense! amid whose azure thron'd
The radiant sun how gay! how calm below
The gilded earth! the harvest-treasures all 1215
Now gather’d in, beyond the rage of storms,
Sure to the swain; the circling fence shut up;
And instant Winter's utmost rage defy'd.
While, loose to festive joy, the country round
Laughs with the loud sincerity of mirth,
Shook to the wind their cares. The toil-ftrung youth
By the quick sense of music taught alone,
Leaps wildly graceful in the lively dance.
Her every charm abroad, the village-toast,
Young, buxom, warm, in native beauty rich, 1225 .
Darts not-upmeaning looks ; and, where her eye
Points an approving smile, with double force,
The cudgel rattles, and the wrestler twines.
Age too shines out; and, garrulous, recounts
The feats of youth. Thus they rejoice; nor think
That, with to-morrow's sun, their annual toil 1231
Begins again the never-ceasing round.
Oh knew he but his happiness, of Men
The happiest he! who far from public rage,
Deep in the vale, with a choice Few retir’d, 1235
Drinks the pure pleasures of the Rural Life.
What tho' the dome be wanting, whose proud gate,
Each morning, vomits out the sneaking crowd
Of flatterers false, and in their turn abus'd?
Vile intercourse! What tho' the glittering robe, 1240
Of every hue reflected light can give,
Or floating loose, or stiff with mazy gold,
The pride and gaze of fools ! oppress him not?
What tho', from utmost land and sea purvey'd,
For him each rarer tributary life
Bleeds not, and his insatiate table heaps
With luxury, and death ? What tho' his bowl
Flames not with costly juice; nor sunk in beds,
Oft of gay care, he tosses out the night,
Or melts the thoughtless hours in idle state? 1250
What tho' he knows not those fantastic joys,
That still amuse the wanton, ftill deceive;
A face of pleasure, but a heart of pain ;
Their hollow moments undelighted all ?
Sure peace is his ; a solid life, estranged 1255
To disappointment, and fallacious hope :
Rich in content, in Nature's bounty rich,
In herbs and fruits; whatever greens the Spring, When heaven descends in showers; or bends the bough When Summer reddens, and when Autumn beams; Or in the wintry glebe whatever lies
1261 Conceal'd, and fattens with the richest fap: These are not wanting ; nor the milky drove, Luxuriant, spread o'er all the lowing vale ; Nor bleating mountains ; nor the chide of streams, And hum of bees, inviting sleep sincere
1266 Into the guiltless breast, beneath the shade, Or thrown at large amid the fragrant hay; Nor ought besides of prospect, grove, or song, Dim grottoes, gleaming lakes, and fountain clear. 1270 Here too dwells simple truth ; plain innocence; Unsullied beauty ; found unbroken youth, Patient of labour, with a little pleas’d; Health ever blooming; unambitious toil ; Calm contemplation, and poetic ease.
LET others brave the flood in queft of gain, And beat, for joyless months, the gloomy wave. Let such as deem it glory to destroy, Rush into blood, the fack of cities seek; Unpierc'd, exulting in the widow's wail, 1280
The virgin's shriek, and infant's trembling cry.
Let some, far-distant from their native soil,
Urg’d or by want or hardened avarice,
Find other lands beneath another fun.
Let this through cities work his eager way, 1285
By legal outrage and establish'd guile,
The social sense extinct, and that ferment
Mad into tumult the seditious herd,
Or melt them down to Navery. Let these
Insnare the wretched in the toils of law,
Fomenting discord, and perplexing right,
An iron race ! and those of fairer front,
But equal inhumanity, in courts,
Delusive pomp, and dark cabals, delight;
Wreathe the deep bow, diffuse the lying smile, 1295
And tread the weary labyrinth of state.
While he, from all the stormy passions free
That restless Men involve, hears, and but hears,
At distance fafe, the human tempeft roar,
Wrapt clofe in conscious peace. The fall of kings,
The rage of nations, and the crush of states,
1301 Move not the Man, who, from the world escap'd, In still retreats, and flowery solitudes, To Nature's voice attends, from month to month,