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From flower to flower on balmy gales to fly,
Is all she has to do beneath the radiant sky.
“Behold the merry minstrels of the morn,
The swarming songsters of the careless grove,
Ten thousand throats! that from the flowering
Hymn their good God, and carol sweet of love,
Such grateful, kindly raptures them emove :
They neither plough nor sow: ne fit for flail,
E’er to the barn the nodding sheaves they drove;
Yet theirs each harvest dancing in the gale,
Whatever crowns the hill or smiles along the vale.
“Outcast of nature, man! the wretched thrall
Of bitter-dropping sweat, of sweltry pain,
Of cares that eat away thy heart with gall,
And of the vices, an inhuman train,
That all proceed from savage thirst of gain:
For when hard-hearted Interest first began
To poison earth, Astræ left the plain ;
* Guile, violence, and murder seized on man, [ran.
And, for soft milky streams, with blood the rivers
so Come ye who still the cumbrous load of life
Push hard up hill; but as the farthest steep
You trust to gain, and put an end to strife,
Down thunders back the stone with mighty sweep,
And hurls your labours to the valley deep,
For ever vain : come, and, withouten fee,
I in oblivion will your sorrows steep,
Your cares, your toils; will steep you in a sea
Of full delight: oh come, ye weary wights, to me!
“ With me you need not rise at early dawn,
To pass the joyless day in various stounds :
Or, louting low, on upstart fortune fawn,
And sell fair honour for some paltry pounds;
Or through the city take your dirty rounds,
To cheat, and dun, and lie, and visits pay,
Now flattering base, now giving secret wounds,
Or prowl in courts of law for human prey,
In venal senate thieve, or rob on broad highway.
“ No cocks, with me, to rustic labour call,
From village on to village sounding clear:
To tardy swain no shrill-voiced matrons squall ;
No dogs, no babes, no wives, to stun your ear;
No hammers thump; no horrid blacksmith fear;
No noisy tradesmen your sweet slumbers start,
With sounds that are a misery to hear :
But all is calm, as would delight the heart
Of Sybarite of old, all nature, and all art.
“Here naught but candour reigns, indulgent ease, Good-natured lounging, sauntering up and down: They who are pleased themselves must always
On others' ways they never squint a frown,
Nor heed what haps in hamlet or in town:
Thus, from the source of tender indolence,
With milky blood the heart is overflown,
Is sooth'd and sweeten'd by the social sense ;
For interest, envy, pride, and strife are banish'
“ What, what is virtue, but repose of mind,
A pure ethereal calm, that knows no storm;
Above the reach of wild ambition's wind,
Above the passions that this world deform,
And torture man, a proud, malignant worm?
But here, instead, soft gales of passion play,
And gently stir the heart, thereby to form
A quicker sense of joy; as breezes stray [gay. Across th’enliven'd skies, and make them still more
66 The best of men have ever loved repose :
They hate to mingle in the filthy fray ;
Where the soul sours, and gradual rancour grows,
Imbitter'd more from peevish day to day.
Ev'n those whom fame has lent her fairest ray, The most renown'd of worthy wights of yore, From a base world at last have stolen away :
So Scipio, to the soft Cumæan shore
Retiring, tasted joy he never knew before.
“But if a little exercise you choose,
Some zest for ease, 'tis not forbidden here.
Amid the groves you may indulge the Muse,
Or tend the blooms, and deck the vernal year ;
Or softly stealing, with your watery gear,
Along the brook, the crimson-spotted fry
You may delude: the while amused you hear
Now the hoarse stream, and now the zephyr's sigh, Attuned to the birds and woodland melody.
“ Oh grievous folly! to heap up estate,
Losing the days you see beneath the sun ;
When sudden comes blind, unrelenting fate,
And gives th' untasted portion you have won
With ruthless toil, and many a wretch undone,
To those who mock you gone to Pluto's reign,
There with sad ghosts to pine, and shadows dun:
But sure it is of vanities most vain,
To toil for what you here untoiling may obtain.”
He ceased. But still their trembling ears retain'd
The deep vibrations of his witching song;
That, by a kind of magic power, constrain'd
To enter in, pell-mell, the listening throng,
Heaps pour'd on heaps, and yet they slipp'd along
In silent ease; as when beneath the beam
Of summer moons, the distant woods among,
Or by some flood all silver'd with the gleam,
The soft-imbodied fays through airy portal stream.
As when a shepherd of the Hebrid isles,
Placed far amid the melancholy main
(Whether it be lone fancy him beguiles,
Òr that the aërial beings sometimes deign
To stand imbodied to our senses plain),
Sees on the naked hill, or valley low,
The while in ocean Phæbus dips his wain,
A vast assembly moving to and fro,
Then all at once in air dissolves the wondrous show.
Ye gods of quiet and of sleep profound !
Whose soft dominion o’er the castle sways,
And all the widely-silent places round,
Forgive me if my trembling pen displays
What never yet was sung in mortal lays.
But how shall I attempt such arduous string,
I who have spent my nights and nightly days
In this soul-deadening place, loose loitering?
Ah! how shall I for this uprear my molted wing ?
Come on, my Muse, nor stoop to low despair,
Thou imp of Jove, touch'd by celestial fire !
Thou yet shalt sing of war and action fair,
Which the bold sons of Britain will inspire;
Of ancient bards thou yet shalt sweep the lyre;
Thou yet shalt tread in tragic pall the stage,
Paint love's enchanting woes, the hero's ire,
The sage's calm, the patriot's noble rage, [age. Dashing corruption down through every worthless
The doors, that knew no shrill, alarming bell,
No cursed knocker plied by villain's hand,
Self-open'd into halls, where, who can tell
What elegance and grandeur wide expand,
The pride of Turkey and of Persia land?
Soft quilts on quilts, on carpets carpets spread,
And couches stretch'd around in seemly band;
And endless pillows rise to prop the head; [bed. So that each spacious room was one full-swelling
And everywhere huge cover'd tables stood,
With wines high flavour'd and rich viands
Whatever sprightly juice or tasteful food
On the green bosom of this earth are found,
And all old Ocean genders in his round :
Some hand unseen these silently display'd,
Ev'n undemanded by a sign or sound;
You need but wish, and, instantly obey'd, [play'd. Fair ranged the dishes rose, and thick the glasses
Here freedom reign'd without the least alloy ; Nor gossip's tale, nor ancient maiden's gall, Nor saintly spleen durst murmur at our joy, And with envenom’d tongue our pleasure pall. For why? there was but one great rule for all; To wit, that each should work his own desire, And eat, drink, study, as it may fall,
Or melt the time in love, or wake the lyre, And carol what, unbid, the Muses might inspire.
The rooms with costly tapestry were hung, Where was inwoven many a gentle tale ; Such as of old the rural poets sung, Or of Arcadian or Sicilian vale: Reclining lovers, in the lonely dale, Pour'd forth at large the sweetly-tortured heart; Or, sighing tender passion, swellid the gale, And taught charm'd echo to resound their smart, While flocks, woods, streams around repose and
peace impart. Those pleased the most, where, by a cunning hànd, Depainted was the patriarchal age; What time Dan Abraham left the Chaldee land, And pastured on from verdant stage to stage, Where fields and fountains fresh could best en
Toil was not then. Of nothing took they heed,
But with wild beasts the sylvan war to wage,
And o’er vast plains their herds and flocks to feed :
Bless'd sons of nature they! true golden age indeed!
Sometimes the pencil, in cool airy halls,
Bade the gay bloom of vernal landskips rise,
Or autumn's varied shades imbrown the walls :
Now the black tempest strikes th' astonish'd eyes,