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The thoughtless many: to the wanton sound
Of fifes and drums they danced, or in the shade
Sung Cæsar, great and terrible in war,
Immortal Cæsar! lo, a god, a god,
He cleaves the yielding skies! Cæsar meanwhile
Gathers the ocean pebbles; or the gnat
Enraged pursues; or at his lonely meal
Starves a wide province; tastes, dislikes, and flings
To dogs and sycophants: a god, a god!
The flowery shades and shrines obscene return.
But see along the north the tempest swell
O'er the rough Alps, and darken all their snows!
Sudden the Goth and Vandal, dreaded names!
Rush as the breach of waters, whelming all
Their domes, their villas; down the festive piles, 530
Down fall their Parian porches, gilded baths,
And roll before the storm in clouds of dust.
Vain end of human strength, of human skill, Conquest, and triumph, and domain, and pomp, And ease and luxury! O luxury, Bane of elated life, of affluent states, What dreary change, what ruin is not thine ? How doth thy bowl intoxicate the mind! To the soft entrance of thy rosy cave How dost thou lure the fortunate and great! Dreadful attraction! while behind thee gapes Th’ unfathomable gulf where Asshur lies O’erwhelmed, forgotten; and high-boasting Cham; And Elam’s haughty pomp; and beauteous Greece; And the great queen of earth, imperial Rome.
THE COUNTRY WALK.
The morning's fair, the lusty Sun
With ruddy cheek begins to run;
And early birds, that wing the skies,
Sweetly sing to see him rise.
I am resolved, this charming day,
In the open field to stray;
And have no roof above my head,
But that whereon the gods do tread.
Before the yellow barn I see
A beautiful variety
Of strutting cocks, advancing stout,
And flirting empty chaff about,
Hens, ducks, and geese, and all their brood,
And turkeys gobbling for their food;
While rustics thrash the wealthy floor,
And tempt them all to crowd the door.
What a fair face does Nature show!
Augusta, wipe thy dusty brow;
A landscape wide salutes my sight,
Of shady vales, and mountains bright;
And azure heavens I behold,
And clouds of silver and of gold.
And now into the fields I
Where thousand flaming flowers glow;
And every neighbouring hedge I greet,
With honeysuckles smelling sweet.
Now o'er the daisy meads I stray,
And meet with, as I pace my way,
Sweetly shining on the eye,
A rivulet, gliding smoothly by;
Which shows with what an easy tide
The moments of the happy glide.
Here, finding pleasure after pain,
Sleeping, I see a wearied swain,
While his full scrip lies open by,
That does his healthy food supply.
Happy swain, sure happier far
Than lofty kings and princes are!
Enjoy sweet sleep, which shuns the
With all its easy beds of down.
The Sun now shows his noontide blaze,
And sheds around me burning rays.
A little onward, and I go
Into the shade that groves bestow;
And on green moss I lay me down
That o'er the root of oak has grown;
Where all is silent, but some flood
That sweetly murmurs in the wood;
But birds that warble in the sprays,
And charm e'en silence with their lays.
O powerful silence, how you reign
In the poet's busy brain!
His numerous thoughts obey the calls
Of the tuneful waterfalls,
Like moles, whene'er the coast is clear,
They rise before thee without fear,
And range in parties here and there.
Some wildly to Parnassus wing,
And view the fair Castalian spring;
Where they behold a lonely well,
Where now no tuneful Muses dwell;
But now and then a slavish hind
Paddling the troubled pool they find.
Some trace the pleasing paths of joy, Others the blissful scene destroy;
In thorny tracks of sorrow stray,
And pine for Clio far away.
But stay-methinks her lays I hear,
So smooth! so sweetl so deep! so clear!
No, 'tis not her voice, I find,
'Tis but the echo stays behind.
Some meditate ambition's brow,
And the black gulf that gapes below:
peep in courts, and there they seo
The sneaking tribe of Flattery.
But, striking to the ear and eye,
A nimble deer comes bounding by;
When rushing from yon rustling spray,
It made them vanish all away.
I rouse me up, and on I rovo,
'Tis more than time to leave the grove.
The Sun declines, the evening breeze
Begins to whisper through the trees:
And, as I leave the sylvan gloom,
As to the glare of day I come,
An old man's smoky nest I see,
Leaning on an aged tree:
Whose willow walls, and furzy brow,
A little garden sway below.
Through spreading beds of blooming green,
Matted with herbage sweet and clean,
A vein of water limps along,
And makes them ever green and young.
Here he puffs upon his spade,
And digs up cabbage in the shade:
His tatter'd rags are sable brown,
His beard and hair are hoary grown:
The dying sap
Up Grongar hill I labour now, And reach at last his bushy brow. Oh, how fresh, how pure the air! Let me breathe a little here; Where am I, Nature? I descry Thy magazine before me lie! Temples! — and towns! — and towers! — and
And hills!--and vales!—and fields!-and floods!
Crowding before me, edged around
With naked wilds, and barren ground.
See, below, the pleasant dome,
The poet's pride, the poet's home,
Which the sunbeams shine upon,
To the even, from the dawn.
See her woods, where Echo talks,
Her gardens trim, her terrace walks,
Her wildernesses, fragrant brakes,
Her gloomy bowers, and shining lakes,
Keep, ye gods, this humble seat,
For ever pleasant, private, neat.
See yonder hill, uprising steep,
Above the river slow and deep:
It looks from hence a pyramid,
Beneath a verdant forest hid;
On whose high top there rises great,
The mighty remnant of a seat,
An old green tower, whose batter'd brow
Frowns upon the vale below. .
Look upon that flowery plain,
How the sheep surround their swain,
How they crowd to hear his strain!
All careless with his legs across,
Leaning on a bank of moss,