« PreviousContinue »
By soft recumbency of outstretched limbs,
Was bliss reserved for happier days. So slow
The growth of what is excellent; so hard
T' attain perfection in this nether world.
Thus first necessity invented stools,
Convenience next suggested elbow chairs,
And Luxury th' accomplished Sofa last.
The nurse sleeps sweetly, hired to watch the sick,
Whom snoring she disturbs. As sweetly he,
Who quits the coach-box at the midnight hour,
To sleep within the carriage more secure,
His legs depending at the open door.
Sweet sleep enjoys the curate in his desk,
The tedious rector drawling o'er his head ;
And sweet the clerk below. But neither sleep
Of lazy nurse, who snores the sick man dead;
Nor his, who quits the box at midnight hour,
To slumber in the carriage more secure;
Nor sleep enjoyed by curate in his desk;
Nor yet the dozings of the clerk, are sweet,
Compared with the repose the Sofa yields.
O may I live exempted (while I live Guiltless of pampered appetite obscene) From pangs arthritic, that infest the toe of libertine Excess. The Sofa suits The gouty limb, 'tis true: but gouty limb, Though on a Sofa, may I never feel; For I have loved the rural walk through lanes Of grassy swarth, close cropped by nibbling sheep, And skirted thick with intertexture firm of thorny boughs; have loved the rural walk O'er hills, through valleys, and by rivers' brink,
E'er since a truant boy I passed my bounds,
T' enjoy a ramble on the banks of Thames :
And still remember, nor without regret
Of hours, that sorrow since has much endeared,
How oft, my slice of pocket store consumed,
Still hungering, pennyless, and far from home,
I fed on scarlet hips and stony haws,
Or blushing crabs, or berries, that emboss
The bramble, black as jet, or sloes austere.
Hard fare! but such as boyish appetite
Disdains not; nor the palate, undepraved
By culinary arts, unsavoary deems.
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 lise declines, speeds 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 stile 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 plifered yet, nor yet impaired
My relish of fair prospect; scenes that soothed
Or charmed me young, no longer young, I find
Still soothing, and of power to charm me still.
And witness, dear companion of my walks,
Whose arm this twentieth winter I perceive
Fast locked in mine, with pleasure such as love,
Confirmed by long experience of thy worth
And well-tried virtues could alone inspire-
Witness a joy that thou hast doubled long.
Thou knowest my praise of nature most sincere,
And that my raptures are not conjured up
To serve occasions of poetic pomp,
But genuine, and art partner of them all.
How oft upon yon eminence our pace
Has slackened 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 discerned
The distant plough slow moving, and beside
His labouring team that swerved not from the track
The sturdy swain diminished 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. Tbere, fast rooted in their bank,
Stand, never overlooked, our favourite elms,
That screens 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 tower,
Tall spire, from which the sound of cheerful bells
Just undulates upon the listening ear,
Groves, heaths, and smoking villages, remote.
Scenes must be beautiful, which daily viewed
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
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;
Unnumbered branches waving in the blast,
And all their leaves fast fluttering, all at once.
Nor less composure waits upon the roar
Of distant floods, or on the softer voice
Of neighbouring 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 livelong night: nor these alone, whose notes
Nice-fingered art must emulate in vain,
But cawing rooks, and kites that swim sublime
In still repeated circles, screaming loud,
The jay, the pie, and e'en the boding owl,
That hails the rising moon, have charms for me.
Sounds in harmonious 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 Devised the weather-house, that useful toy ! Fearless of humid air and gathering rains, Forth steps the man-an emblem of myself! : More delicate bis timorous 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 discoveries falls on me. At such a season, and with such a charge, Once went I forth; and found, till then unknowe, A cottage, whither oft we since repair; . "Tis perched upon the green hill top, but close Environed 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 called the low-roofed 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, olinking hammers, grinding wheels, And infants clainorous, whether pleased or pained, Oft have I wished the peaceful covert mine. Here, I have said, at least I should possess The poet's treasure, silence, and indulge The dreains of fancy, tranquil and secure. Vain thought! the dweller in that still retreat Dearly obtains the refuge it affords. , Its elevated site forbids the wretch To drink sweet waters of the chrystal well;