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THE TASK.

BOOK VI.

THE WINTER WALK AT NOON.

THERE is in fouls a fympathy with founds;
And, as the mind is pitch'd, the ear is pleas'd
With melting airs, or martial, brifk, or grave:
Some chord in unifon with what we hear
Is touch'd within us, and the heart replies
How foft the music of those village bells,
Falling at intervals upon the ear
In cadence sweet, now dying all away,
Now pealing loud again, and louder still,
Clear and fonorous, as the gale comes on!
With eafy force it opens all the cells
Where mem'ry flept.

Wherever I have heard

A kindred melody, the fcene recurs,

And with it all its pleasures and its pains.
Such comprehenfive views the spirit takes,
That in a few fhort moments I retrace
(As in a map the voyager his course)
The windings of my way through many years.
Short as in retrospect the journey feems,
It feem'd not always fhort; the rugged path,
And profpect oft so dreary and forlorn,
Mov'd many a figh at its difheart'ning length.
Yet, feeling prefent evils, while the past
Faintly imprefs the mind, or not at all,
How readily we wish time spent revok❜d,
That we might try the ground again, where once
Through inexperience, as we now perceive)
We mifs'd that happiness we might have found!
Some friend is gone, perhaps his fon's best friend!
A father, whofe authority, in fhow

When most severe, and muft'ring all its force,
Was but the graver countenance of love!
Whofe favour, like the clouds of spring, might low'r,
And utter now and then an awful voice,
But had a bleffing in its darkeft frown,
Threat'ning at once and nourishing the plant.
We lov'd, but not enough, the gentle hand
That rear'd us. At a thoughtless age, allur'd
By ev'ry gilded folly, we renounc'd

His fhelt'ring fide, and wilfully forewent
That converfe which we now in vain regret.
How gladly would the man recall to life
The boy's neglected fire! a mother too,
That fofter friend, perhaps more gladly still,
Might he demand them at the gates of death.
Sorrow has, fince they went, fubdu’d and tam'd
The playful humour; he could now endure
(Himself grown fober in the vale of tears)
And feel a parent's prefence no restraint.
But not to underftand a treasure's worth
Till time has ftol'n away the flighted good,
Is cause of half the poverty we feel,

And makes the world the wilderness it is.
The few that pray at all pray oft amifs,

And, feeking grace t' improve the prize they hold,
Would urge a wifer suit than asking more.

The night was winter in his roughest mood;
The morning fharp and clear. But now at noon,
Upon the fouthern fide of the flant hills,
And where the woods fence off the northern blast,
The feafon fmiles, refigning all its rage,

And has the warmth of May. The vault is blue
Without a cloud, and white without a speck
The dazzling fplendour of the scene below.

Again the harmony comes o'er the vale;

And through the trees I view th' embattled tow'r
Whence all the mufic. I again perceive

The foothing influence of the wafted strains,
And settle in soft musings as I tread

The walk, still verdant, under oaks and elms,
Whofe outfpread branches overarch the glade.
The roof, though moveable through all its length
As the wind fways it, has yet well fuffic❜d,
And, intercepting in their filent fall

The frequent flakes has kept a path for me.
No noife is here, or none that hinders thought.
The red-breast warbles ftill, but is content

With flender notes, and more than half fupprefs'd:
Pleas'd with his folitude, and fitting light

Here the heart

From fpray to fpray, where'er he rests he shakes
From many a twig the pendent drops of ice,
That tinkle in the wither'd leaves below.
Stillnefs, accompanied with founds fo foft,
Charms more than filence. Meditation here
May think down hours to moments.
May give an ufeful leffon to the head,
And learning wifer grow without his books.
Knowledge and wifdom, far from being one,
Have oft-times no connection. Knowledge dwells
In heads replete with thoughts of other men;

Wifdom in minds attentive to their own.
Knowledge, a rude unprofitable mass,

The mere materials with which wisdom builds,
Till fmooth'd and fquar'd, and fitted to its place,
Does but encumber whom it feems t' enrich.
Knowledge is proud that he has learn'd fo much;
Wisdom is humble that he knows no more.
Books are not seldom talifmans and fpells,
By which the magic art of fhrewder wits
Holds an unthinking multitude enthrall'd.
Some to the fafcination of a name

Surrender judgment, hood-wink'd. Some the style Infatuates, and through labyrinths and wilds

Of error leads them by a tune entranc'd.

While floth feduces more, too weak to bear-
The infupportable fatigue of thought,

And fwallowing, therefore, without paufe or choice,
The total grift unfifted, hufks and all.
But trees, and rivulets whofe rapid courfe
Defies the check of winter, haunts of deer,
And fheep-walks populous with bleating lambs,
And lanes in which the primrose are her time
Peeps through the moss that clothes the hawthorn root,
Deceive no student. Wisdom there, and truth,
Not fhy, as in the world, and to be won

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