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Blessings of the Golden Age.
Of uncorrupted Man, nor blushed to see
The sluggard sleep beneath its sacred beam :
For their light slumbers gently fumed away; *
And up they rose as vigorous as the sun, 245
Or to the culture of the willing glebe,
Or to the cheerful tendance of the flock.
Mean time the song went round ; and dance and sport, ,
Wisdom and friendly talk, successive, stole
Their hours away : while in the rosy vale 250
Love breathed his infant sighs, from anguish free,
And full replete with bliss ; save the sweet pain,
That, inly thrilling, but exalts it more.
Nor yet injurious act, nor surly deed,
Was known among those happy sons of Heaven ; 255
For reason and benevolence were law.
Harmonious Nature too looked smiling on.
Clear shone the skies, cooled with eternal gales,
And balmy spirit all. The youthful sun
Shot his best rays, and still the gracious clouds 260
Dropt fatness down ; as o'er the swelling mead,
The herds and flocks, commixing, played secure.
This when, emergent from the gloomy wood,
The glaring lion saw, his horrid heart
Was meekened, and he joined his sullen joy. 265
For music held the whole in perfect peace :
Soft sighed the flute ; the tender voice was heard,
Warbling the varied heart; the woodlands round
Applied their quire; and winds and waters flowed
In consonance. Such were those prime of days. 276
But now those white unblemished manners, whence
The fabling poets took their golden age,
Are found no more amid these iron times,
These dregs of life Now the distempered mind
Has lost that concord of harmonious powers, 275
Which forms the soul of happiness ; and all
Is off the poise within : the passions all
Have burst their bounds; and reason half extinct,
Or impotent, or else approving, sees
The foul disorder. Senseless, and deformed, 280
Convulsive anger storms at large ; or pale,
And silent, settles into fell revenge.
Base envy withers at another's joy,
And hates that excellence it cannot reach.
Desponding fear, of feeble fancies full, 1985
Weak and unmanly, loosens every power.
Even love itself is bitterness of soul,
A pensive anguish pining at the heart ;
Or, sunk to sordid interest, feels no more
That noble wish, that never-cloyed desire, 290
Which, selfish joy disdaining, seeks alone
To bless the dearer object of its flame.
Hope sickens with extravagance ; and grief,
Of life impatient, into madness swells ;
Or in dead silence wastes the weeping hours. 295,
These, and a thousand mixt emotions more,
From ever-changing views of good and ill,
Formed infinitely various, vex the mind
With endless storm : whence, deeply rankling, grows
The partial thought, a listless unconcern, 3OQ.
Cold, and averting from our neighbour's good ;
Then dark disgust, and hatred, winding wiles,
Coward deceit, and ruffian violence :
At last, extinct each social feeling, fell
And joyless inhumanity pervades 305
And petrifies the heart. Nature disturbed
Is deemed, vindictive, to have changed her course.
Hence, in old dusky time, a deluge came :
When the deep-cleft disparting orb, that arched
The central waters round, impetuous rushed, 310
With universal burst, into the gulph,
And o'er the high-piled hills of fractured earth
Wide dashed the waves, in undulation vast ;
Till, from the centre to the streaming clouds,
A shoreless ocean tumbled round the globe. 315
The Seasons since have, with severer sway,
Oppressed a broken world : the Winter keen
Shook forth his waste of snows ; and Summer shot
His pestilential heats. Great Spring, before,
Greened all the year; and fruits and blossoms blushed, 320
In social sweetness, on the self-same bough.
Pure was the temperate air ; an even calm
Perpetual reigned, save what the zephyrs bland
Breathed o'er the blue expanse : for then nor storms
Were taught to blow, nor hurricanes to rage ; 325
Sound slept the waters ; no sulphureous glooms
Swelled in the sky, and sent the lightning forth ;
While sickly damrps, and cold autumnal fogs,
Hung not, relaxing, on the springs of life.
But now, of turbid elements the sport, 33Q
From clear to cloudy tost, from hot to cold,
And dry to moist, with inward-eating change,
Our drooping days are dwindled down to nought,
Their period finished ere 'tis well begun.
And yet the wholesome herb neglected dies; 336
Though with the pure exhilarating soul -
Of nutriment and health, and vital powers,
Beyond the search of art, 'tis copious blest.
Killing Animals for food.
For, with hot ravin fired, ensanguined Man
Is now become the lion of the plain, 340
And worse. The wolf, who from the nightly fold
Fierce drags the bleating prey, ne’er drunk her milk,
Nor wore her warming fleece : nor has the steer,
At whose strong chest the deadly tyger hangs,
E'er plowed for him. They too are tempered high, 345
With hunger stung, and wild necessity,
Nor lodges pity in their shaggy breast.
But man, whom Nature formed of milder clay,
With every kind emotion in his heart,
And taught alone to weep ; while from her lap 350 .
She pours ten thousand delicacies, herbs,
And fruits, as numerous as the drops of rain,
Or beams that gave them birth : shall he, fair form 1
Who wears sweet smiles, and looks erect on Heaven, -
E’er stoop to mingle with the prowling herd, 355
And dip his tongue in gore | The beast of prey, -
Blood-stained, deserves to bleed : but you, ye flocks,
What have you done : ye peaceful people, what,
To merit death f you who have given us milk
In luscious streams, and lent us your own coat 360
Against the winter's cold? And the plain ox, o
That harmless, honest, guileless animal,
In what hath he offended ? he, whose toil, *
Patient and ever ready, clothes the land
With all the pomp of harvest; shall he bleed, 365
And struggling, groan beneath the cruel hands
Even of the clown he feeds ; and that, perhaps,
To swell the riot of th’ autumnal feast,
Won by his labour ! Thus the feeling heart
Would tenderly suggest : but ’tis enough, 370
In this late age, adventurous, to have touched
Preparations for Angling.
Light on the numbers of the Samian sage.
High Heaven forbids the bold presumptuous strain,
Whose wisest will has fixed us in a state
That must not yet to pure perfection rise. 375
Now when the first foul torrent of the brooks,
Swelled with the vernal rains, is ebbed away;
And, whitening, down their mossy-tinctured stream
Descends the billowy foam : now is the time,
While yet the dark-brown water aids the guile, 380
To tempt the trout. The well-dissembled fly,
The rod fine tapering with elastic spring,
Snatched from the hoary steed the floating line,
And all thy slender watery stores prepare.
But let not on thy hook the tortured worm, 385
Convulsive twist in agonizing folds ;
Which, by rapacious hunger swallowed deep,
Gives, as you tear it from the bleeding breast
Of the weak helpless uncomplaining wretch,
Harsh pain and horror to the tender hand. 396
When with his lively ray the potent sun Has pierced the streams, and roused the finny race, Then, issuing cheerful, to thy sport repair; Chief should the western breezes curling play, And light o'er ether bear the shadowy clouds. 395 High to their fount, this day, amid the hills, And woodlands warbling round, trace up the brooks : The next, pursue their rocky-channeled maze, Down to the river, in whose ample wave Their little naiads love to sport at large. 40%) Just in the dubious point, where with the pool Is mixed the trembling stream, or where it boils Around the stone, or from the hollowed bank