Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

Of graffy fwarth, close cropt by nibbling sheep,
And skirted thick with intertexture firm

Of thorny boughs; have loved the rural walk
Over hills, through vallies, and by rivers' brink,
Ever fince a truant boy I passed my bounds
To enjoy a ramble on the banks of Thames ;
And ftill remember, nor without regret

Of hours, that forrow fince has much endeared,
How oft, my flice of pocket ftore confumed,
Still hungering, pennyless, and far from home,
I fed on fcarlet hips and ftony haws,
Or blushing crabs, or berries, that imbofs
The bramble, black as jet, or floes auftere,
Hard fare! but fuch as boyish appetite
Difdains not; nor the palate, undepraved
By culinary arts, unfavory deems.
NO SOFA then awaited my return;
Nor SOFA then I needed, Youth repairs
His wafted fpirits quickly, by long toil
Incurring short fatigue; and, though our years,
As life declines, fpeed 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;
The elastic fpring of an unwearied foot,

That mounts the file with ease, or leaps the fence,

That play of lungs, inhaling and again
Refpiring freely the fresh air, that makes
Swift pace or fteep afcent no toil to me,
Mine have not pilfered yet; nor yet impaired
My relifh of fair profpect; fcenes that foothed
Or charmed me young, no longer young, I find
Still foothing, and of power to charm me still.
And witness, dear companion of my walks,
Whofe arm this twentieth winter I perceive
Faft locked in mine, with pleasure fuch as love,
Confirmed by long experience of thy worth
And well-tried virtues, could alone inspire-
Witness a joy that thou haft doubled long.
Thou knoweft my praise of nature most fincere,
And that my raptures are not conjured up
To ferve occafions of poetic pomp,

But genuine, and art partner of them all.
How oft upon yon eminence our pace

Has flackened to a pause, and we have borne
The ruffling wind, scarce conscious that it blew,
While admiration, feeding at the eye,

And ftill unfated, dwelt upon the scene.

Thence with what pleasure have we just discerned The diftant plough flow moving, and befide

His labouring team, that fwerved not from the track,

The sturdy fwain diminished to a boy!
Here Oufe, flow winding through a level plain
Of spacious meads with cattle sprinkled over,
Conducts the eye along his finuous courfe
Delighted. There, faft rooted in their bank,
Stand, never overlooked, our favourite elms,
That screen the herdfman's folitary hut;
While far beyond, and overthwart the ftream
That, as with molten glass, inlays the vale,
The floping land recedes into the clouds;
Difplaying on its varied fide the grace

Of hedge-row beauties numberless, square tower,
Tall fpire, from which the found of cheerful bells
Juft undulates upon the liftening ear,

Groves, heaths, and fmoking villages, remote.
Scenes must be beautiful, which daily viewed
Please daily, and whose novelty furvives
Long knowledge and the fcrutiny of years.
Praife juftly due to those that I defcribe,

Nor rural fights alone, but rural founds, Exhilarate the fpirit, and reftore The tone of languid Nature. Mighty winds, That fweep the skirt of some far-fpreading wood Of ancient growth, make mufic not unlike The dash of ocean on his winding fhore,

And lull the spirit while they fill the mind;
Unnumbered branches waving in the blast,
And all their leaves faft fluttering, all at once.
Nor lefs compofure waits upon the roar
Of diftant floods, or on the fofter 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 grafs, that with a livelier green
Betrays the fecret of their filent course.
Nature inanimate employs fweet founds,
But animated nature sweeter ftill,

To footh and fatisfy the human ear.

Ten thousand warblers cheer the day, and one
The livelong night: nor these alone, whofe notes
Nice fingered art must emulate in vain,

But cawing rooks, and kites that swim fublime
In ftill repeated circles, fcreaming loud,
The jay, the pie, and even the boding owl,
That hails the rifing moon, have charms for me.
Sounds inharmonious in themselves and harsh,
Yet heard in scenes where peace for ever reigns,
And only there, please highly for their fake.

Peace to the artist, whose ingenious thought Devised the weather-house, that useful toy!

Fearless of humid air and gathering rains,

Forth fteps the man-an emblem of myself!
More delicate his timorous mate retires.

When Winter foaks the fields, and female feet,
Too weak to ftruggle with tenacious clay,
Or ford the rivulets, are beft at home,

The task of new difcoveries falls on me.

[ocr errors]

At such a season, and with such a charge,

Once went I forth; and found, till then unknown, A cottage, whither oft we fince repair :

'Tis perched upon the green-hill top, but clofe
Environed with a ring of branching elms,
That overhang the thatch, itself unfeen

Peeps at the vale below; fo thick befet
With foliage of fuch dark redundant growth,
I called the low-roofed lodge the peasant's nest.
And, hidden as it is, and far remote

From fuch unpleafing founds, as haunt the ear
In village or in town, the bay of curs

Inceffant, clinking hammers, grinding wheels,
And infants clamorous whether pleafed or pained,
Oft have I wished the peaceful covert mine.
Here, I have faid, at least I should poffefs
The poet's treasure, filence, and indulge
The dreams of fancy, tranquil and secure.
Vain thought! the dweller in that ftill retreat

« ForrigeFortsett »