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Should fate command me to the furthest verge Of the green earth, to distant barb’rous climes, Rivers unknown to song; where first the sun Gilds Indian mountains, or his setting beam Flames on th' Atlantic isles; 'tis nought to me: Since GOD is ever present, ever felt,
In the void waste as in the city full;
And where he vital breathes, there must be joy.
When ev'n at last the solemn hour shall come,
And wing my mystic flight to future worlds,
I cheerful will obey: there with new pow'rs,
Will rising wonders sing. I cannot go
Where Universal Love not smiles around,
Sustaining all your orbs, and all their suns,
From seeming evil still educing good,
And better thence again, and better still,
In infinite progression. But I lose
Myself in him, in LIGHT INEFFABLE!
Come then, expressive silence, muse his praise.
AND A TALE RELATIVE TO IT.
Soon as the morning trembles o'er the sky,
And unperceiv'd unfolds the spreading day;
Before the ripen'd field the reapers stand,
In fair array; each by the lass he loves,
To bear the rougher part, aud mitigate
By nameless gentle offices her toil.
At once they stoop and swell the lusty sheaves:
While through their cheerful band the rural talk
Flies harmless, to deceive the tedious time,
And steal, unfelt, the sultry hours away.
Behind the master walks, builds up the shocks;
And, conscious, glancing oft on ev'ry side
His sated eye, feels his heart heave with joy.
The gleaners spread around, and here and there,
Spike after spike, their scanty harvest pick.
Be not too narrow, husbandmen! but fling
From the full sheaf, with charitable stealth,
The lib'ral handful. Think, O grateful think!
How good the God of Harvest is to you;
Who pours abundance o'er your flowing fields;
While these unhappy partners of your kind
Wide hover round you, like the fowls of heaven,
And ask their humble dole. The various turns
Of fortune ponder; that your sons may want
What now, with hard reluctance, faint ye give.
The lovely young Lavinia once had friends,
And fortune smil'd deceitful on her birth,
For in her helpless years depriv'd of all,
Of ev'ry stay, save innocence and heaven,
She with her widow'd mother, feeble, old,
And poor, liv'd in a cottage far retir'd
Among the windings of a woody vale;
By solitude and deep surrounding shades,
But more by bashful modesty, conceal'd,
Together thus they shunn'd the cruel scorn
Which virtue, sunk to poverty, would meet
From giddy passion and low-minded pride:
Almost on nature's common bounty fed;
Like the gay birds that sung them to repose,
Content, and careless of to-morrow's fare.
Her form was fresher than the morning rose,
When the dew wets its leaves; unstain'd and pure,
As is the lily or the mountain snow.
The modest virtues mingled in her eyes,
Still on the ground dejected, darting all
Their humid beams into the blooming flowers:
Or when the mournful tale her mother told,
Of what her faithless fortune promis'd once,
Thrill'd in her thought, they, like the dewy star
Of ev'ning, shone in tears. A native grace
Sat fair proportion'd on her polish'd limbs,
Veil'd in a simple robe, their best attire,
Beyond the pomp of dress: for loveliness.
Needs not the aid of foreign ornament,
But is, when unadorn'd, adorn'd the most.
Thoughtless of beauty, she was beauty's self,
Recluse amid the close embow'ring woods.
As in the hollow breast of Appennine,
Beneath the shelter of encircling hills,
A myrtle rises, far from human eye,
And breathes its balmy fragrance o'er the wild;
So flourish'd blooming, and unseen by all,
The sweet Lavinia; till at length compell'd
By strong necessity's supreme command,
With smiling patience in her looks, she went
To glean Palemon's fields. The pride of swains
Palemon was, the gen'rous and the rich;
Who led the rural life in all its joy
And elegance, such as Arcadian song
Transmits from ancient uncorrupted times;
When tyrant custom had not shackled man,
But free to follow nature was the mode.
He then his fancy with autunnal scenes.
Amusing, chanc'd beside his reaper train
To walk, when poor Lavinia drew his eye,
Unconscious of her pow'r, and turning quick
With unaffected blushes from his gaze;
He saw her charming, but he saw not half
The charms her downcast modesty conceal'd.
That very moment love and chaste desire
Sprung in his bosom, to himself unknown ;
For still the world prevail'd, and its dread laugh,
Which scarce the firm philosopher can scorn,
Should his heart own a gleaner in the field;
And thus in secret to his soul he sigh'd.
"What pity that so delicate a form, "By beauty kindled, where enliv'ning sense "And more than vulgar goodness seem to dwell, "Should be devoted to the rude embrace
"Of some indecent clown! She looks, methinks, "Of old Acasto's line; and to mind
"Recalls that patron of my happy life,
"From whom my lib'ral fortune took its rise; "Now to the dust gone down; his houses, lands, "And once fair-spreading family dissolv'd. ""Tis said, that in some lone obscure retreat, "Urg'd by remembrance sad, and decent pride, "Far from those scenes which knew their better