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O FOR the merry days of Robin Hood,
When, in the bonny greenwood, lords and ladies
Chased the red deer, or, o'er the sunny glade,
Loosed the fleet falcon; till, fatigued with sport,
They sank upon the greensward in the shade,
Lover and lady-love, knight, squire and page,
Gentle and yeoman, all in seemly groups,
Distinct, yet mingling, like the tones in music,
In one full strain of social harmony.
Then, while the viands and the sack went round,
High feats of chivalry were sung or said,
And hunter-deeds of daring; then were told
Tales that Boccacio's self might listen to;
While in their bowe:', the wooer and his mistress
Might safely sigh and vow, their gentle voices
Drown'd in the music of the mandolin,
The lively viol, or the mellow horn,
Or loud laugh of the joyous servitors.
A plague upon the foul fiend avarice,
Who has not left one corner of the earth
Deck'd in the fresh green of the olden time.
The pastoral, the rustic, the romantic
Are trampled into dust by this grim collier,
With his improvements—out on such improvements !
'Twas never merry England, old or new,
Since factories came up, with their pale hordes
Of squalid candidates for quick consumption,
Gallopping to their graves, that some puff'd puppet
May, in ’s unpaid for chariot, at his ease,
Roll on to snug insolvency.
How cheap Is genuine happiness, and yet how dearly Do we all pay for its base counterfeit! We fancy wants, which to supply, we dare Danger and death, enduring the privation Of all free nature offers in her bounty, To attain that, which, in its full fruition, Brings but satiety. The poorest man May taste of nature in her elements, Pure, wholesome, never cloying; while the richest, From the same stores, does but elaborate A pungent dish of well concocted poison. Thanks to my humble nurture, while I've limbs, Tastes, senses, I'm determined to be rich, So long as that fine alchemist, the sun,
Can transmute into gold whate'er I like
On earth, in air, or water; while a banquet
Is ever spread before me, in a hall
Of heaven's own building, perfumed with the breath
Of nature's self, and ringing to the sounds
Of her own choristers.
The Norwood gipsey
Is, in my mind, a princess to the thing
That fashion forms of tawdry shreds and patches,
To live a dull automaton, and die
Of love of lacing.
Not that I would wed-
Were that to do again-a downright dame
Of Norwood lineage, if my search could find
A nymph whom modern culture had not robb’d
Of all simplicity. 'Twas such a one
I met erewhile, and I will tell you how,
If that your leisure serve to hear the tale.
Glad to escape the town and all its cares,
My custom always of an afternoon,'
And sometimes of a morning, or a day,
A week, a month, whenever time is mine,
I had been rambling through a spring-tide day,
By field and forest, lake and rocky stream-
I cannot say, ma'am, what was my pursuit,
A bird perhaps—perhaps a butterfly,
A flower, a stone, a bug-no matter what-