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Whether he steals along the lonely dale,
In silent search ; or through the forest, rank
With what the dull incurious weeds account,
Bursts his blind way, or climbs the mountain rock,
Fir'd by the nodding verdure of its brow.
With such a liberal hand has nature flung
Their seeds abroad, blown them about in winds,
Innumerous mixt them with the nursing mould,
The moistening current, and prolific rain.
But who their virtues can declare? who pierce,
With vision pure, into these secret stores,
Of health, and life, and joy? The food of man,
While yet he liv'd in innocence, and told
A length of golden years; unflesh'd in blood,
A stranger to the savage arts of life,
Death, rapine, carnage, surfeit and disease;
The lord, and not the tyrant, of the world
The first fresh dawn then wak'd the gladden'd race
Of uncorrupted man, nor blush'd to see
The sluggard sleep beneath its sacred beam :
For their light slumbers gently fum'd away;
And up they rose as vigorous as the sun,
Or to the culture of the willing glebe,
Or to the cheerful tendance of the flock.
Meantime the song went round; and dance and sport,
Wisdom and friendly talk, successive, stole
Their hours away; while in the rosy vale
Love breath'd 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 liappy sons of heaven;
For reason and benevolence were law.
Harmonious nature too look'd smiling on.
Clear shone the skies, coold with eternal gales,
And balmy spirit all. The youthful sun
Shot his best rays, and still the gracious clouds
Dropp'd fatness down; as o'er the swelling mead,
The herds and flocks, commixing, play'd secure.
This when, emergent from the gloomy wood,
The glaring lion saw, his horrid heart
Was meeken'd, and he join'd his sullen joy.
For music held the whole in perfect peace :
Sigh'd the flute; the tender voice was heard,
Warbling the varied heart; the woodlands round
Apply d their quire; and winds and waters flow'd
In consonance. Such were those prime of days.
But now those white unblemish'd manners whence
The fabling poets took their golden age,
Are found no more amid these iron times,
These dregs of life! Now the distemper'd mind
Has lost that concord of harmonious powers,
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 deform'd,
Convulsive anger storms at large; or pale,
And silent, settles into full revenge.
Base envy withers at another's joy,
And hates that excellence it cannot reach.
Desponding fear, of feeble fancies full,
Weak and unmanly, loosens every power.
Ev'n 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-cloy'd desire,
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.
These, and a thousand mixt einotions more,
From ever-changing views of good and ill,
Form'd infinitely various, vex the mind
With endless storm: whence, deeply rankling grows
The partial thought, a listless unconcein,
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
And petrifies the heart. Nature disturb'd
Is deem'd vindictive to have chang'd her course,
Hence, in old dusky time, a deluge came;
When the deep-cleft disparting orb, that arch'd
The central waters round impetuous rush'd,
With universal burst, into the gulf,
And o'er the high-pil'd hills of fractur'd earth
Wide dash'd the waves, in undulation vast;
Till, from the centre to the streaming clouds,
A shoreless ocean tumbled round the globe.
The Seasons since have, with severer sway,
Oppress'd a broken world: the Winter keen
Shook forth his waste of snows; and Summer shot
His pestilential heats., Great Spring, before,
Green'd all the year; and fruits and blossoms blush'd,
In social sweetness, on the self-same bough.
Pure was the temperate air; and even calm
Perpetual reign'd, save what the zephyrs bland
Breath'd o'er the blue expanse ; for then nor storms
Were taught to blow, nor hurricanes to rage;
Sound slept the waters; no sulphureous glooms
Swelld in the sky, and sent the lightning forth;
While sickly damps, and cold autumnal fogs,
Hung not, relaxing, on the springs of life.
But now, of turbid elements the sport,
From clear to cloudy, tost, from hot to cold,
And dry to moist, with inward-eating change,
Our drooping days are dwindled clown to nought,
Their period finish'd ere tis well begun.
And yet the wholesome herb neglected dies ; Though with the pure exhilarating soul Of nutriment and health, and vital powers, Beyond the search of art, 'tis copious blest. For, with hot ravine fir'd, ensanguin'd man Is now become the lion of the plain, 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 tiger hangs, E’er plough’d for him. They too are temper'd bigh, With hunger stung and wild necessity, Nor lodges pity in their shaggy breast. But man, whom Nature form's of milder clay, With every kind enotion in his heart,
And taught alone to weep; while from her lap
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!
Who weais sweet smiles, and looks erect on heaven,
E'er stoop to mingle with the prowling herd,
And dip his tongue in gore ? the beast of prey,
Blood-stain'd, deserves to bleed: but you, ye flocks,
What have ye done ; ye peaceful people, what,
To merit death? you, who have given us milk
In luscious streams, and lent us your own coat
Against the Winter's cold? And the plain ox,
That harmless, honest, guileless animal,
In what has he offended ? he, whose toil,
Patient and ever ready, clothes the land
With all the pomp of harvest : shall he bleed,
And struggling groan beneath the cruel hands,
Ev'n 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,
In this late age, adventurous to have touch'd
Light on the numbers of the Samian sage.
High Heaven forbids the bold presumptuous strain,
Whose wisest will has 6x'd us in a state
That must not yet to pure perfection rise.
Now when the first foul torrent of the brooks,
Swell'd with the vernal rains, is ebb'd away,
And, whitening, down their mossy tinctur'd stream
Descends the billowy foam; now is the time,
While yet the dark brown water aids the guile,
To tempt the trout. The well-dissembled fly,
The rod fine-tapering with elastic spring,
Snatch'd from the hoary steed the floating line,
And all the slender wat'ry stores prepare.
But let not on thy hook the tortur'd worm,
Convulsive, twist in agonizing tolds;
Which, by rapacious hunger swallow'd deep,
Gives, as you tear it from the bleeding breast
Of the weak helpless uncomplaining wretch,
Harsh pain, and horror to the tender hand.
When with his lively ray the potent sun
Has pierc'd the streains, and rous'd 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.
High to their fount, this day, amid the hills
And woodlands warbling round, trace up the brooks;
The next, pursue their rocky-channel'd maze,
Down to the river, in whose ample wave
Their little Naiads love to sport at large.
Just in the dubious point, where with the pool
Is mix'd the trembling stream, or where it boils
Around the stone, or from the hollow'd bank
Reverted plays in undulating flow,
There throw, nice-judging, the delusive fly;
And as you lead it round in artful curve,
With eye attentive mark the springing game.
Straight as above the surface of the flood
They wanton rise, or urg'd by hunger leap,
Then fix, with gentle twitch, the barbed hook :
Some ligbtly tossing to the grassy bank,
And to the shelving shore, slow dragging some,
With various hand proportion'd to their force.
If yet too young, and easily deceiv'd,
A worthless prey scarce bends your pliant rod,
Him, piteous of his youth and the short space
He has enjoy'd the vital light of heaven,
Soft disengage, and back into the stream
The speckled captive throw. But should you lure
From his dark haunt, beneath the tangled roots
Of pendent trees, the monarch of the brook,
Behoves you then to ply your finest art.
Long time he, following cautious, scans the fly;
And oft attempts to seize it, but as oft
The dinipled water speaks his jealous fear.
At last, while haply o'er the sbaded sun
Passes a cloud, he desperate takes the death,
With sullen plunge. At once he darts along,
Deep-struck, and runs out all the lengthen'd line:
Then seeks the farthest ooze, the shelte ing weed,
The cavern'd bank, his old secure abode;
And flies aloft, and flounces round the pool,
Indignant of the guile. With yielding hand,