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SPRING

Come, gentle Spring, ethereal mildness, come, And from the bosom of yon dropping cloud, While music wakes around, veiled in a shower Of shadowing roses, on our plains descend.

O Hertford ! fitted or to shine in courts With unaffected grace, or walk the plain With innocence and meditation joined In soft assemblage, listen to my song, Which thy own season paints, when Nature all Is blooming and benevolent, like thee.

And see where surly Winter passes off, Far to the north, and calls his ruffian blasts : His blasts obey, and quit the howling hill, The shattered forest, and the ravaged vale ; While softer gales succeed, at whose kind touch, Dissolving snows in livid torrents lost, The mountains lift their green heads to the sky,

As yet the trembling year is unconfirmed, And Winter oft at eve resumes the breeze, Chills the pale morn, and bids his driving sleets Deform the day delightless : so that scarce The bittern knows his time, with bill ingulfed, To shake the sounding marsh; or from the shore The plovers, when to scatter o'er the heath, And sing their wild notes to the listening waste.

At last from Aries rolls the bounteous sun, And the bright Bull receives him. Then no more The expansive atmosphere is cramped with cold; But, full of life and vivifying soul, Lifts the light clouds sublime, and spreads them thin, Fleecy, and white, o’er all-surrounding heaven.

Forth fly the tepid airs ; and unconfined, Unbinding earth, the moving softness strays. Joyous, the impatient husbandman perceives Relenting Nature, and his lusty steers Drives from their stalls, to where the well-used plough Lies in the furrow, loosened from the frost. There, unrefusing, to the harnessed yoke They lend their shoulder, and begin their toil, Cheered by the simple song and soaring lark. Meanwhile incumbent o'er the shining share The master leans, removes th' obstructing clay, Winds the whole work, and sidelong lays the glebe.

While through the neighbouring fields the sower stalks
With measured step, and, liberal, throws the grain
Into the faithful bosom of the ground,
The harrow follows harsh, and shuts the scene.

Be gracious, Heaven! for now laborious man
Has done his part. Ye fostering breezes, blow!
Ye softening dews, ye tender showers, descend !
And temper all, thou world-reviving sun,
Into the perfect year! Nor ye who live
In luxury and ease,

in
pomp

and pride,
Think these lost themes unworthy of your ear:
Such themes as these the rural Maro sung
To wide-imperial Rome, in the full height
Of elegance and taste, by Greece refined.

In ancient times the sacred plough employed
The kings and awful fathers of mankind :
And some, with whom compared your insect-tribes
Are but the beings of a summer's day,
Have held the scale of empire, ruled the storm

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Of mighty war; then, with unwearied hand,
Disdaining little delicacies, seized
The plough, and greatly independent lived.

Ye generous Britons, venerate the plough!
And o'er your hills, and long withdrawing vales,
Let Autumn spread his treasures to the sun,
Luxuriant and unbounded. As the sea,
Far through his azure turbulent domain,
Your empire owns, and from a thousand shores
Wafts all the pomp of life into your ports,
So with superior boon may your rich soil,
Exuberant, Nature's better blessings pour
O’er every land, the naked nations clothe,
And be th' exhaustless granary of a world!

Nor only through the lenient air this change, Delicious, breathes; the penetrative sun, His force deep-darting to the dark retreat Of vegetation, sets the steaming Power At large, to wander o'er the verdant earth, In various hues; but chiefly thee, gay green! Thou smiling Nature's universal robe ! United light and shade! where the sight dwells With growing strength, and ever-new delight.

From the moist meadow to the withered hill, Led by the breeze, the vivid verdure runs, And swells, and deepens, to the cherished eye. The hawthorn whitens; and the juicy groves Put forth their buds, unfolding by degrees, Till the whole leafy forest stands displayed In full luxuriance to the sighing gales ; Where the deer rustle through the twining brake, And the birds sing concealed. At once arrayed In all the colours of the flushing year, By Nature's swift and secret-working hand, The garden glows, and fills the liberal air With lavish fragrance ; while the promised fruit Lies yet a little embryo unperceived Within its crimson folds. Now from the town

Buried in smoke, and sleep, and noisome damps,
Oft let me wander o'er the dewy fields,
Where freshness breathes, and dash the trembling drops
From the bent bush, as through the verdant maze
Of sweetbriar hedges I pursue my walk;
Or taste the smell of dairy; or ascend
Some eminence, Augusta, in thy plains,
And see the country, far diffused around,
One boundless blush, one white-empurpled shower
Of mingled blossoms; where the raptured eye
Hurries from joy to joy, and, hid beneath
The fair profusion, yellow Autumn spies.

If, brushed from Russian wilds, a cutting gale
Rise not, and scatter from his humid wings
The clammy mildew; or, dry-blowing, breathe
Untimely frost; before whose baleful blast
The full-blown Spring through all her foliage shrinks,
Joyless and dead, a wide-dejected waste.
For oft, engendered by the hazy north,
Myriads on myriads, insect armies warp
Keen in the poisoned breeze; and wasteful eat,
Through buds and bark, into the blackened core,
Their eager way. A feeble race ! yet oft
The sacred sons of Vengeance, on whose course
Corrosive Famine waits, and kills the year.
To check this plague, the skilful farmer chaff
And blazing straw before his orchard burns ;
Till, all involved in smoke, the latent foe
From every cranny suffocated falls :
Or scatters o'er the blooms the pungent dust
Of pepper, fatal to the frosty tribe :
Or, when the envenomed leaf begins to curl,
With sprinkled water drowns them in their nest;
Nor, while they pick them up with busy bill,
The little trooping birds unwisely scares.

Be patient, swains ; these cruel-seeming winds Blow not in vain. Far hence they keep repressed Those deepening clouds on clouds, surcharged with rain,

That o'er the vast Atlantic hither borne,
In endless train, would quench the summer-blaze,
And, cheerless, drown the crude unripened year.

The north-east spends his rage ; he now shut up
Within his iron cave, th' effusive south
Warms the wide air, and o'er the void of heaven
Breathes the big clouds with vernal showers distent.
At first a dusky wreath they seem to rise,
Scarce staining ether; but by swift degrees,
In heaps on heaps, the doubling vapour sails
Along the loaded sky, and mingling deep
Sits on th' horizon round a settled gloom :
Not such as wintry storms on mortals shed,
Oppressing life; but lovely, gentle, kind,
And full of every hope and every joy,
The wish of Nature. Gradual sinks the breeze
Into a perfect calm, that not a breath
Is heard to quiver through the closing woods,
Or rustling turn the many-twinkling leaves
Of aspen tall. Th’uncurling floods, diffused
In glassy breadth, seem through delusive lapse
Forgetful of their course. 'Tis silence all
And pleasing expectation. Herds and flocks
Drop the dry sprig, and, mute-imploring, eye
The falling verdure. Hushed in short suspense,
The plumy people streak their wings with oil,
To throw the lucid moisture trickling off,
And wait th' approaching sign to strike, at once,
Into the general choir. E'en mountains, vales,
And forests seem, impatient, to demand
The promised sweetness. Man superior walks
Amid the glad creation, musing praise,
And looking lively gratitude. At last
The clouds consign their treasures to the fields ;
And, softly shaking on the dimpled pool
Prelusive drops, let all their moisture flow,
In large effusion, o'er the freshened world.

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