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And all excess, even of salubrious food,
As sure destroys as famine or the wolf.
Inferior theirs to man's world-roving frame,
Which all extremes in every zone endures.

With grateful heart, ye British swains, enjoy
Your gentle seasons and indulgent clime.
Lo! in the sprinkling clouds, your bleating hills
Rejoice with herbage, while the horrid rage
Of winter irresistible o'erwhelms
The hyperborean tracts: his arrowy frosts,
That pierce through flinty rocks, the Lappian flies;
And burrows deep beneath the snowy world;
A drear abode, from rose-diffusing hours,
That dance before the wheels of radiant day,
Far, far remote; where, by the squalid light
Of fetid oil inflamed, sea-monster's spume,
Of fir-wood glaring in the weeping vault,
Twice three slow gloomy months, with various ills
Sullen he struggles; such the love of life!
His lank and scanty herds around him press,
As, hunger-stung, to gritty meal he grinds
The bones of fish, or inward bark of trees,
Their common sustenance. While ye, O swains, 480

, Ye, happy at your ease, behold your sheep Feed on the open turf, or crowd the tilth, Where, thick among the greens, with busy mouths

They scoop white turnips: little care is

Only, at morning hour, to interpose
Dry food of oats, or hay, or brittle straw,
The watery juices of the bossy root
Absorbing: or from noxious air to screen
Your heavy teeming ewes, with wattled fence
Of furze or copsewood, in the lofty field,
Which bleak ascends among the whistling winds.




Or, if your sheep are of Silurian breed,
Nightly to house them dry on fern or straw,
Silk'ning their fleeces. Ye, nor rolling hut,
Nor watchful dog, require; where never roar
Of savage tears the air, where careless night
In balmy sleep lies lulled, and only wakes
To plenteous peace. Alas! o’er warmer zones
Wild terror strides: there stubborn rocks are rent;
There mountains sink; there yawning caverns

And fiery torrents roll impetuous down,
Proud cities deluging; Pompeian towers,
And Herculanean, and what riotous stood
In Syrian valley, where now the Dead Sea
’Mong solitary hills infectious lies.

See the swift furies, famine, plague, and war, In frequent thunders rage o’er neighbouring realms, And spread their plains with desolation wide: Yet your mild homesteads, ever-blooming, smile Among embracing woods; and waft on high The breath of plenty, from the ruddy tops Of chimneys, curling o'er the gloomy trees, In airy azure ringlets, to the sky. Nor ye by need are urged, as Attic swains, And Tarentine, with skins to clothe your sheep; Expensive toil; howe'er expedient found In fervid climates, while from Phoebus' beams They fled to rugged woods and tangling brakes. But those expensive toils are now no more; Proud tyranny devours their flocks and herds: Nor bleat of sheep may now, nor sound of pipe, Soothe the sad plains of once sweet Arcady, The shepherds' kingdom: dreary solitude Spreads o'er Hymettus, and the shaggy vale


620 525



Of Athens, which, in solemn silence, sheds
Her venerable ruins to the dust.

The weary Arabs roam from plain to plain,
Guiding the languid herd in quest of food;
And shift their little home's uncertain scene
With frequent farewell: strangers, pilgrims all,
As were their fathers. No sweet fall of rain
May there be heard ; nor sweeter liquid lapse
Of river, o'er the pebbles gliding by
In murmurs; goaded by the rage of thirst,
Daily they journey to the distant clefts
Of craggy rocks, where gloomy palms o'erhang
The ancient wells, deep sunk by toil immense,
Toil of the Patriarchs, with sublime intent
Themselves and long posterity to serve.
There, at the public hour of sultry noon,
They share the beverage, when to watering come,
And grateful umbrage, all the tribes around,
And their lean flocks, whose various bleatings fill
The echoing caverns: then is absent none,
Fair nymph or shepherd, each inspiring each
To wit, and song, and dance, and active feats;
In the same rustic scene, where Jacob won
Fair Rachel's bosom, when a rock's vast weight
From the deep dark-mouth'd well his strength

And to her circling sheep refreshment gave.

Such are the perils, such the toils of life,
In foreign climes. But speed thy flight, my

Swift turns the year; and our unnumbered flocks
On fleeces overgrown uneasy lie.

Now, jolly swains, the harvest of your cares
Prepare to reap, and seek the sounding caves




Of high Brigantium, where, by ruddy flames,
Vulcan's strong sons, with nervous arm, around
The steady anvil and the glaring mass,
Clatter their heavy hammers down by turns,
Flattening the steel: from their rough hands receive
The sharpened instrument, that from the flock
Severs the fleece. If verdant elder spreads
Her silver flowers; if humble daisies yield
To yellow crow-foot, and luxuriant grass,
Gay shearing-time approaches. First, howe'er,
Drive to the double fold, upon the brim
Of a clear river, gently drive the flock,
And plunge them one by one into the flood:
Plunged in the flood, not long the struggler sinks, 570
With his white flakes, that glisten through the tide;
The sturdy rustic, in the middle wave,
Awaits to seize him rising; one arm bears
His lifted head above the limpid stream,
While the full clammy fleece the other laves
Around, laborious, with repeated toil;
And then resigns him to the sunny bank,
Where, bleating loud, he shakes his dripping locks.

Shear them the fourth or fifth return of morn,
Lest touch of busy fly-blows wound their skin:
Thy peaceful subjects without murmur yield
Their yearly tribute: 'tis the prudent part
To cherish and be gentle, while ye strip
The downy vesture from their tender sides.
Press not too close; with caution turn the points;
And from the head in regular rounds proceed:
But speedy, when ye chance to wound, with tar
Prevent the wingy swarm and scorching heat;

580 539

1.Caves of Brigantium :' the forges of Sheffield in Yorkshire, where the shepherds' shears and all edge-tools are made.


And careful house them, if the lowering clouds
Mingle their stores tumultuous: through the gloom
Then thunder oft with ponderous wheels rolls loud,
And breaks the crystal urns of heaven: аdown
Falls streaming rain. Sometimes among the steeps
Of Cambrian glades (pity the Cambrian glades)
Fast tumbling brooks on brooks enormous swell,
And sudden overwhelm their vanished fields;
Down with the flood away the naked sheep,
Bleating in vain, are borne, and straw-built huts,
And rifted trees, and heavy enormous rocks,
Down with the rapid torrent to the deep.

At shearing-time, along the lively vales,
Rural festivities are often heard :
Beneath each blooming arbour all is joy
And lusty merriment: while on the grass
The mingled youth in gaudy circles sport,
We think the golden age again returned,
And all the fabled Dryades in dance.
Leering they bound along, with laughing air,
To the shrill pipe, and deep remurmuring cords
Of th' ancient harp, or tabor's hollow sound.

While the old apart, upon a bank reclined,
Attend the tuneful carol, softly mixed
With every murmur of the sliding wave,
And every warble of the feathered choir;
Music of paradise! which still is heard,
When the heart listens; still the views appear
Of the first happy garden, when content
To Nature's flowery scenes directs the sight.
Yet we abandon those Elysian walks,
Then idly for the lost delight repine:
As greedy mariners, whose desperate sails
Skim o'er the billows of the foaming flood,



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