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Forbear, my Muse. Let Love attune thy line.
Revoke the spell. Thine Edwin frets not so.
For how should he at wicked chance repine,
Who feels from every change amusement flow!
Even now his eyes with smiles of rapture glow,
As on he wanders through the scenes of morn,
Where the fresh flowers in living lustre blow,
Where thousand pearls, the dewy lawns adorn,
A thousand notes of joy, in every breeze are borne.
But who the melodies of morn can tell ?
The wild brook babbling down the mountain-side ;
The lowing herd; the sheepfold's simple bell ;
The pipe of early shepherd dim descried
In the lone valley ; echoing far and wide
The clamorous horn along the cliffs above;
The hollow murmur of the ocean-tide;
The hum of bees, the linnet's lay of love,
And the full choir that wakes the universal grove.
The cottage-curs at early pilgrim bark ;
Crown'd with her pail the tripping milk-maid sings;
The whistling ploughman stalks afield; and, hark !
Down the rough slope the ponderous waggon rings;
Through rustling corn the hare astonish'd springs ;
Slow tolls the village-clock the drowsy hour;
The partridge bursts away on whirring wings;
Deep mourns the turtle in sequester'd bower,
And shrill lark carols clear from her aërial tour.
O Nature, how in every charm supreme !
Whose votaries feast on raptures ever new!
O for the voice and fire of seraphim,
To sing thy glories with devotion due !
Blest be the day I 'scaped the wrangling crew,
From Pyrrho's maze, and Epicurus' sty ;
And held high converse with the godlike few,
Who to th' enraptur'd heart, and ear, and eye,
Teach beauty, virtue, truth, and love, and melody.
Hence ! ye who snare and stupefy the mind,
Sophists, of beauty, virtue, joy, the bane !
Greedy and fell, though impotent and blind,
Who spread your filthy nets in Truth's fair fane,
And ever ply your venom'd fangs amain!
Hence to dark Errour's den, whose rankling slime
First gave you form! Hence ! lest the Muse should
deign, (Though loth.on theme so mean to waste a rhyme,) With vengeance to pursue your sacrilegious crime.
But hail, ye mighty masters of the lay,
Nature's true sons, the friends of man and truth!
Whose song, sublimely sweet, serenely gay,
Amus'd my childhood, and inform'd my youth.
O let your spirit still my bosom soothe,
Inspire my dreams, and my wild wanderings guide!
Your voice each rugged path of life can smoothe:
For well I know wherever ye reside,
There harmony, and peace, and innocence abide.
Ah me! neglected on the lonesome plain,
As yet poor Edwin never knew your lore,
Save when against the winter's drenching rain,
And driving snow,
the cottage shut the door.
Then, as instructed by tradition hoar,
Her legend when the beldame 'gan impart,
Or chant the old heroic ditty o'er,
Wonder and joy ran thrilling to his heart ;
Much he the tale admir'd, but more the tuneful
Various and strange was the long-winded tale;
And halls, and knights, and feats of arms, display'd;
Or merry swains, who quaff the nut-brown ale,
And sing enamour'd of the nut-brown maid ;
The moon-light revel of the fairy glade;
Or hags, that suckle an infernal brood,
And ply in caves th' unutterable trade,
'Midst fiends and spectres, quench the Moon in
blood, Yell in the midnight storm, or ride th’infuriate flood.
But when to horrour his amazement rose,
A gentler strain the beldame would rehearse,
A tale of rural life, a tale of woes,
The orphan-babes, and guardian uncle fierce.
O cruel! will no pang of pity pierce
That heart, by lust of lucre sear'd to stone?
For sure, if aught of virtue last, or verse,
To latest times shall tender souls bemoan
Those hopeless orphan-babes by thy fell arts undone.
Behold, with berries smear'd, with brambles torn,
The babes now famish'd lay them down to die :
Amidst the howl of darksome woods forlorn,
Folded in one another's arms they lie ;
Nor friend, nor stranger, hears their dying cry:
“ For from the town the man returns no more.
But thou, who Heaven's just vengeance dar'st
defy, This deed with fruitless tears shalt soon deplore, When Death lays waste thy house, and flames con
sume thy store.
A stifled smile of stern vindictive joy
Brighten’d one moment Edwin's starting tear,
“ But why should gold man's feeble mind decoy,
And innocence thus die by doom severe ?”.
O Edwin! while thy heart is yet sincere,
Th' assaults of discontent and doubt repel:
Dark even at noontide is our mortal sphere;
But let us hope; to doubt is to rebel ;
Let us exult in hope, that all shall yet be well.
Nor be thy generous indignation check’d,
Nor check'd the tender tear to Misery given ;
From Guilt's contagious power shall that protect,
This soften and refine the soul for Heaven.
But dreadful is their doom, whom doubt has driven
To censure Fate, and pious Hope forego :
Like yonder blasted boughs by lightning riven,
Perfection, beauty, life, they never know,
But frown on all that pass, a monument of woe.
Shall he, whose birth, maturity, and agc,
Scarce fill the circle of one summer day,
Shall the poor gnat, with discontent and rage,
Exclaim that Nature hastens to decay,
If but a cloud obstruct the solar ray,
If but a momentary shower descend ?
Or shall frail man Heaven's dread decree gainsay,
Which bade the series of events extend
Wide through unnumber'd worlds, and ages
One part, one little part, we dimly scan
Through the dark medium of life's feverish dream;
Yet dare arraign the whole stupendous plan,
If but that little part incongruous seem.
Nor is that part, perhaps, what mortals deem;
Oft from apparent ill our blessings rise.
O then renounce that impious self-esteem,
That aims to trace the secrets of the skies :
For thou art but of dust; be humble, and be wise.
Thus Heaven enlarg’d his soul in riper years.
For Nature gave him strength, and fire, to soar
On Fancy's wing above this vale of tears;
Where dark cold-hearted sceptics, creeping, pore
Through microscope of metaphysic lore :
And much they grope for Truth, but never hit.
For why? Their powers, inadequate before,
This idle art makes more and more unfit;
Yet deem they darkness light, and their vain blun-