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Sheep Shearing




To festive mirth, and wit that knows no gall.
Meantime, their joyous task goes on apace :
Some mingling stir the melted tar', and some,
Deep on the new shorn vagrant's heaving side,
To stamp his master's cypher ready stand ;
Others the unwilling wether drag along;
And glorying in his might, the sturdy boy
Holds by the twisted horns th' indignant ram,
Behold where bound, and of its robe bereft,
By needy Man, that all-depending lord,
How meek, how patient the mild creature lies !
What softness in its melancholy face,
What dumb complaining innocence appears !
Fear not, ye gentle tribes, 'tis not the knife
Of horrid slaughter that is v'er you waved ;
No, 'tis the tender swain's well-guided shears,
Who having now, to pay his annual care,
Borrowed your fleece, to you a cuml:rous loat,
Will send you bounding to your hills again!

A simple scene! yet hence Britannia sees
Her solid grandeur rise ; hence she commands
Th' exalted stores of every brighter clime,
The treasures of the Sun, without his rage ;
Hence, fervent all, with culture, toil, and arts,
Wide glows her land : her dreadful thunder hence
Rides o'er the waves sublime, and now, even now,
Impending hangs o'er Gallia's humbled coast ;
Hence rules the circling deep, and awes the world.

'Tis raging Noon ; and, vertical, the Sun
Darts on the head direct his forceful rays.
O'er heaven and earth, far as the ranging eye
Can sweep, a dazzling deluge reigns; and all




435 Fervent Heat.

From pole to pole is undistinguished blaze,
In vain the sight, dejected to the ground,
Stoops for relief; thence not ascending steans
And keen reflection pain. Deep to the root
Of vegetation parched, the cleaving fields

And slippery lawn an arid hue disclose,
Blast Fancy's blooms, and wither even the Soul.
Echo no more returns the cheerful sound
Of sharpening scythe ; the mower sinking heaps
O'er him the humid hay, with flowers perfuined ; 445
And scarce a chirping grasshopper is heard
Through the dumb mead. Distressful Nature, pants.
-The very streams look languid from afar ;
Or, through the unsheltered glade, impatient, seem
To hurt into the covert of the grove.

All-conquering Heat, oh intermit thy wrath !
And on my throbbing temples potent thus
Beam not so fierce ! Incessant still you flow,
And still another fervent flood succeeds,
Poured on the head profuse. In vain I sigh, 455
And restless turn, and look around for Night ;
Nig'it is far off ; and hotter hours approach.
Thrice happy he ! who on the sunless side
Of a romantic mountain, forest crowned,
Beneat!, the whole collected shade reclines :

Or in the gelid caverns, woodbine-wrought,
And fresh bedewed with ever-spouting streams,
Sits coolly calm ; while all the world without,
Unsatisfied, and sick, tosses in noon.
Emblem instructive of the virtuous Man,

Who keeps his tempered mind serene, and pure,
And every passion aptly harmonized,
Amid a jarring world with vice inflamed.

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Cooling Shades and Streams.

Welcome ye shades ! ye bowery thickets, hail !
Ye lofty pines ! ye venerable oaks !

Ye ashes wild, resounding o'er the steep!
Delicious is your shelter to the soul,
As to the hunted hart the sallying spring,
Or streams full-flowing, that his swelling sides
Laves, as he floats along the herbaged brink.

Cool, through the nerves, your pleasing comfort glides ;
The heart beats glad ; the fresh expanded eye
And ear resume their watch ; the sinews knit;
And life shoots swift through all the lightened limbs.

Around the adjoining brook, that purls along 480
The vocal grove, now fretting o'er a rock, '
Now scarcely moving through a reedy pool,
Now starting to a sudden stream, and now
Gently diffused into a limpid plain ;
A various group the herds and flocks compose, 485
Rural confusion ! On the grassy bank
Some ruminating lie; while others stand
Half in the food, and often bending sip
The circling surface. In the middle droops
The strong laborious ox, of honest front,

Which incomposed he shakes ; and from his sides
The troublous insects lashes with his tail,
Returning still. Amid his subjects safe,
Slumbers the monarch swain ; his careless arm
Thrown round his head, on downy muss sustained ; 495
Here laid his scrip, with wholesome viands filled ;
There, listening every noise, his watchful dog.

Light fly his slumbers, if perchance a fight
Of angry gad-flies fasten on the herd;
That startling scatters from the shallow brook, 500
In search of lavish stream, Tossing the foam,


Haunts of Meditation.

They scorn the keeper's voice, and scour the plain,
Through all the bright severity of noon;
While from their labouring breasts, a hollow moan
Proceeding, runs low-bellowing round the hills. 505

Oft in this season too the horse, provoked,

While his big sinews full of spirits swell, j

Trembling with vigour, in the heat of blood,
* Springs the high fence ; and, o'er the field effused,

Darts on the gloomy flood, with stedfast eye, 510
And heart estranged to fear : his nervous chest,
Luxuriant, and erect, the seat of strength !
Bears down the opposing stream ; quenchless his thirst;
He takes the river at redoubled draughts ;
And with wide nostrils, snorting, skims the wave. 515

Stiil let me pierce into the midnight depth
Of yonder grove, of wildest largest growth :
That, forming high in air a woodland quire,
Nods o'er the mount beneath. At every step,
Solemn, and slow, the shadows blacker fall,

520 And all is awful listening gloom around.

These are the haunts of Meditation, these
The scenes were ancient bards the inspiring breath,
Ecstatic, felt; and, from this world retired,
Conversed with angels, and immortal forms,

On gracious errands bent: to save the fall
Of virtue struggling on the brink of vice ;
In waking whispers, and repeated dreams,
To hint pure thought, and warn the favoured soul
For future trials fated to prepare ;

To prompt the poet, who devoted gives
His muse to better themes ; to soothe the pangs
Of dying worth, and from the patriot's breast,

Spectres of Imagination.

! (Backward to mingle in detested war,

But foremost when engaged) to turn the death ; 535
And numberless such offices of love,
Daily, and nightly, zealous to perform.

Shook sudden from the bosom of the sky,
A thousand shapes, or glide athwart the dusk,
Or stalk majestic on. Deep-roused, I feel

540 A sacred terror, a severe delight, Creep through my mortal frame ; and thus, methinks, A voice, than human more, the abstracted ear Of fancy strikes. “ Be not of us afraid, « Poor kindred Man! thy fellow-creatures, we 545 « From the same PARENT-POWER our beings drew,

The same our Lord, and laws, and great pursuit. « Once some of us, like thee, through stormy life, * Toiled, tempest-beaten, ere we could attain * This holy calm, this harmony of mind,

550 * Where purity and peace immingle charms. “Then fear not us; but with responsive song, « Amid these dim recesses, undisturbed “ By noisy folly and discordant vice, « Of Nature sing with us, and Nature's God. 555 “ Here frequent, at the visionary hour, « When musing midnight reigns, or silent noon, “ Angelic harps are in full concert heard, 6. And voices chanting from the wood-crowned hill, “ The deepening dale, or inmost sylvan glade :

560 “ A privilege bestowed by us, alone, « On contemplation,

the hallowed ear “Of Poet, swelling to seraphic strain."

And art thou, *STANLEY, of that sacred band ?

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A young lady, well known to the Author, who died at the age of eighteen, in the year 1738.

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