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That mounts the stile with ease, or leaps the fence,
That play of lungs, inhaling and again
Respiring freely the fresh air, that makes
Swift pace or fteep ascent no toil to me,
Mine have not pilfered yet; nor yet impaired
My relish of fair prospect; scenes that soothed
Or charmed me young, no longer young, I find
Still soothing, and of power to charm me ftill.
And witness, dear companion of my walks,
Whose arm this twentieth winter I perceive
Faft locked in mine, with pleasure such as love,
Confirmed by long experience of thy worth
And well-tried virtues, could alone inspire
Witness a joy that thou hast doubled long.
Thou knoweft my praise of nature most sincere,
And that my raptures are not conjured up
To serve occasions of poetic pomp,
But genuine, and art partner of them all.
How oft upon yon eminence our pace
Has slackened to a pause, and we have borne
The ruffling wind, scarce conscious that it blew,
While admiration, feeding at the eye,
And still unfated, dwelt upon the scene.
Thence with what pleasure have we juft discerned
The distant plough Now moving, and beside
His labouring team, that swerved not from the track,
The sturdy (wain diminished to a boy!
Here Ouse, now winding through a level plain
Of spacious meads with cattle sprinkled over,
Conducts the eye along his sinuous course
Delighted. There, faft rooted in their bank,
Stand, never overlooked, our favourite elms,
That screen the herdsman's solitary hut;
While far beyond, and overthwart the stream
That, as with molten glass, inlays the vale,
The sloping land recedes into the clouds ;
Displaying on its varied fide the grace
Of hedge-row beauties numberless, square tower,
Tall spire, from which the found of cheerful bells
Juft undulates upon the listening ear,
Groves, heaths, and smoking villages, remote.
Scenes must be beautiful, which daily viewed
Please daily, and whose novelty survives
Long knowledge and the scrutiny of years.
Praise juftly due to those that I describe.
Nor rural lights alone, but rural sounds, Exhilarate the spirit, and restore The tone of languid Nature. Mighty winds, That sweep the skirt of some far-spreading wood Of ancient growth, make music not unlike The dash of ocean on his winding shore,
And lull the spirit while they fill the mind;
Unrumbered branches waving in the blast,
And all their leaves faft futtering, all at once.
Nor less composure waits upon the roar
Of diftant floods, or on the softer 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 grass, that with a livelier green
Betrays the secret of their filent course.
Nature inanimate employs sweet founds,
But animated nature sweeter ftill,
To footh and satisfy the human ear.
Ten thousand warblers cheer the day, and one
The live-long night: nor these alone, whose notes
Nice fingered art muft emulate in vain,
But cawing rvoks, and kites that swim sublime
In ftill repeated circles, screaming loud,
The jay, the pie, and even the boding owl,
That hails the rising moon, have charms for me.
Sounds in harmonious in themselves and harsh,
Yet heard in scenes where peace for ever reigns,
And only there, please highly for their fake.
Peace to the artift, whose ingenious thought Devised the weather-house, that useful toy !
Fearless of humid air and gathering rains,
Forth steps the man-an emblem of myself!
More delicate his timorous mate retires.
When Winter foaks the fields, and female feet,
Too weak to struggle with tenacious clay,
Or ford the rivulets, are best at home,
The task of new discoveries falls on me.
At such a season, and with such a charge,
Once went I forth; and found, till then unknown,
A cottage, whither oft we since repair :
'Tis perched upon the green-bill top, but close
Environed with a ring of branching elms,
That overhang the thatch, itself unseen
Peeps at the vale below; so thick beset
With foliage of such dark redundant growth,
I called the low-roofed lodge the peasant's nest,
And, hidden as it is, and far remote
From such unpleasing sounds, as haunt the ear
In village or in town, the bay of curs
Inceffant, clinking hammers, grinding wheels,
And infants clamorous whether pleased or pained,
Oft have I wished the peaceful covert mine.
Here, I have said, at least I should poffefs
The poet's treasure, lilence, and indulge
The dreams of fancy, tranquil and secure.
Vain thought! the dweller in that still retreat
Dearly obtains the refuge it affords.
Its elevated scite forbids the wretch
To drink fweet waters of the crystal well;
He dips his bowl into the weedy ditch,
And, heavy-laden, brings his beverage home,
Far fetched and little worth; nor seldom waits,
Dependant on the baker's punctual call,
To hear his creaking panniers at the door,
Angry and sad, and his laft cruft consumed.
So farewell envy of the peasant's nest !
If folitude make fcant the means of life,
Society for me!-thou seeming sweet,
Be still a pleasing object in my view;
My visit ftill, but never mine abode.
Not distant far, a length of colonnade Invites us. Monument of ancient taste, Now scorned, but worthy of a better fate. Our fathers knew the value of a screen From sultry suns: and, in their shaded walks And long protracted bowers, enjoyed at noon The gloom and coolness of declining day. We bear our shades about us ; self-deprived Of other screen, the thin umbrella spread, And range an Indian waste without a tree.