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Sheer from the black foundation, stench-involved,
Into a gulph of blue sulphureous flame. 1205
Hence every harsher sight ! for now the day,
O'er heaven and earth diffused, grows warm, and high,
Infinite splendour ! wide investing all.
How still the breeze save what the filmy threads
Of dew evaporate brushes from the plain. 12 16
How clear the cloudless sky : how deeply tinged.
With a peculiar blue ! the ethereal arch
How swelled immense ! amid whose azure throned
The radiant sun how gay ! how calm below
The gilded earth! the harvest-treasures all 12 15
Now gathered in, beyond the rage of storms,
Sure to the swain ; the circling fence shut up ;
And instant Winter's utmost rage defied.
While, loose to festive joy, the country round
Laughs with the loud sincerity of mirth, 1229
Shook to the wind their cares. The toil-strung youth
By the quick sense of music taught alone,
Leaps wildly graceful in the lively dance.
Her every charm abroad, the village-toast,
Young, buxom, warm, in native beauty rich, 1225
Darts not unmeaning looks; and, where her eye
Points an approving smile, with double force,
The cudgel rattles, and the wrestler twines.
Age too shines out ; and, garrulous, recounts
The feats of youth. Thus they rejoice; nor think
} That, with to-morrow's sun, their annual toil 1231
Begins again the never-ceasing round.
Oh knew he but his happiness, of Men
The happiest he who far from public rage,
Deep in the vale, with a choice few retired, 1235
Drinks the pure pleasures of the Rural Life.
What tho’ the dome be wanting, whose proud gate,
Each morning, vomits out the sneaking crowd
Of flatterers false, and in their turn abused?
Vile intercourse ! What tho’ the glittering robe, 1240
Of every hue reflected light can give,
Or floating loose, or stiff with mazy gold,
The pride and gaze of fools l oppress him not?
What tho’, from utmost land and sea purveyed, -
For him each rarer tributary life 1245
Bleeds not, and his insatiate table heaps
With luxury, and death : What tho’ his bowl
Flames not with costly juice; nor sunk in beds,
Oft of gay care, he tosses out the night,
Or melts the thoughtless hours in idle state : 1250
What tho’ he knows not those fantastic joys,
That still amuse the wanton, still deceive ;
A face of pleasure, but a heart of pain;
Their hollow moments undelighted all 2
Sure peace is his ; a solid life, estranged 1255
To disappointment, and fallacious hope :
Rich in content, in Nature’s bounty rich,
In herbs and fruits ; whatever greens the Spring,
When heaven descends in showers; or bends the bough
When Summer reddens, and when Autumn beams; 1260
Or in the wintry glebe whatever lies
Concealed, and fatteus with the richest sap :
These are not wanting; nor the milky drove,
Luxuriant, spread o'er all the lowing vale ;
Nor bleating mountains; nor the chide of streams, 1265
And hum of bees, inviting sleep sincere
Into the guiltless breast, beneath the shade,
Wealth, Conquest, Ambition.
Or thrown at large amid the fragrant hay ; * Nor aught besides of prospect, grove, or song, Dim grottos, gleaming lakes, and fountain clear. 1270 Here too dwells simple truth ; plain innocence ; Unsullied beauty ; sound unbroken youth, Patient of labour, with a little pleased ; Health ever blooming ; unambitious toil ; Calm contemplation, and poetic ease. 1275 Let others brave the flood in quest of gain, And beat, for joyless months, the gloomy wave, Let such as deem it glory to destroy, Rush into blood, the sack of cities seek ; Unpierced, exulting in the widow’s wail, 1280 The virgin's shriek, and infant’s trembling cry, Let some, far-distant from their native soil, Urged or by want or hardened avarice, Find other lands beneath another sun. Let this thro’ cities work his eager way, 1285 By legal outrage and established guile, The social sense extinct ; and that ferment Mad into tumult the seditious herd, Or melt them down to slavery. Let these Insnare the wretched in the toils of law, 129O Fomenting discord, and perplexing right, An iron race and those of fairer front, But equal inhumanity, in courts, Delusive pomp, and dark cabals, delight; Wreath the deep brow, diffuse the lying smile, 1295 And tread the weary labyrinth of state. While he, from all the stormy passions free That restless Men involve, hears, and but hears, . At distance safe, the human tempest roar,
Wrapt close in conscious peace. The fall of kings,
The rage of nations, and the crush of states,
Move not the Man, who, from the world escaped,
In still retreats, and flowery solitudes,
To Nature’s voice attends, from month to month,
And day to day, thro’ the revolving year;
Admiring, sees her in her every shape ;
Feels all her sweet emotions at his heart ;
Takes what she liberal gives, nor thinks of more.
He, when young Spring protrudes the bursting gems,
Marks the first bud, and sucks the healthful gale
Into his freshened soul; her genial hours
He full enjoys ; and not a beauty blows,
And not an opening blossom breathes in vain.
In Summer he, beneath the living shade,
Such as o'er frigid Tempe wont to wave,
Or Hemus cool, reads what the Muge, of these
Perhaps, has in immortal numbers sung ;
Or what she dictates writes : and, oft an eye
Shot round, rejoices in the vigorous year.
When Autumn's yellow lustre gilds the world,
And tempts the sickled swain into the field,
Seized by the general joy, his heart distends -
With gentle throes ; and, thro’ the tepid gleams
Deep musing, then he best exerts his song.
Even Winter wild to him is full of bliss.
The mighty tempest, and the hoary waste,
Abrupt, and deep, stretched o'er the buried earth,
Awake to solemn thought. At night the skies,
Disclosed, and kindled, by refining frost,
Pour every lustre on th’ exalted eye.
A friend, a book, the stealing hours secure,
O'er land and sea imagination roams ;
Ortruth, divinely breaking on his mind,
Elates his being, and unfolds his powers ;
Or in his breast heroic virtue burns.
The touch of kindred too and love he feels ;
The modest eye, whose beams on his alone
Ecstatic shine ; the little strong embrace
Of prattling children, twined around his neck,
And emulous to please him, calling forth
The fond parental soul. Nor purpose gay,
Amusement, dance, or song, he sternly scorns;
For happiness and true philosophy
Are of the social, still, and smiling kind.
This is the life which those who fret in guilt,
And guilty cities, never knew ; the life,
Led by primeval ages, uncorrupt,
When angels dwelt, and God himself, with Man
O Nature all-sufficient over all !
Enrich me with the knowledge of thy works :
Snatch me to heaven ; thy rolling wonders there,
World beyond world, in infinite extent,
Profusely scattered o'er the blue immense,
Shew me ; their motions, periods, and their laws,
Give me to scan ; thro’ the disclosing deep
Light my blind way : the mineral strata there ;
Thrust, blooming, thence the vegetable world ;
O'er that the rising system, more complex,
Of animals; and higher still, the mind,
The varied scene of quick compounded thought,
And where the mixing passions endless shift ;
These ever open to my ravished eye ;