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While such pure joys my bliss create,
Who but would smile at guilty state ?
Who but would wish his holy lot
In calm Oblivion's humble grot ?
Who but would cast his pomp away,
To take my staff, and amice gray * ;
And to the world's tumultuous stage
Prefer the blameless hermitage?
WRITTEN IN WHICHWOOD FOREST.
The hinds how blest, who ne'er beguild
To quit their hamlet's hawthorn wild;
Nor haunt the crowd, nor tempt the main,
For splendid care, and guilty gain!
When morning's twilight-tinctur'd beam
Strikes their low thatch with slanting gleam,
They rove abroad in ether blue,
To dip the scythe in fragrant dew;
The sheaf to bind, the beech to fell,
That nodding shades a craggy
Midst gloomy glades, in warbles clear,
Wild nature's sweetest notes they hear :
On green untrodden banks they view
The hyacinth's neglected hue:
* Gray clothing, from the Latin verb amicio, to clothe.
In their lone haunts, and woodland rounds,
They spy the squirrel's airy bounds,
And startle from her ashen spray,
Across the glen, the screaming jay:
Each native charm their steps explore
Of Solitude's sequestered store.
For them the Moon with cloudless ray
Mounts, to illume their homeward way:
Their weary spirits to relieve,
The meadows' incense breathe at eve.
No riot mars the simple fare,
That o'er a glimmering hearth they share:
But when the curfew's measur'd roar
Duly, the darkening valleys o'er,
Has echoed from the distant town,
They wish no beds of cygnet-down,
No trophied canopies, to close
Their drooping eyes in quick repose.
Their little sons, who spread the bloom Of health around the clay-built room, Or through the primros'd coppice stray, Or gambol in the new-mown hay; Or quaintly braid the cowslip twine, Or drive afield the tardy kine; Or hasten from the sultry hill, To loiter at the shady rill; Or climb the tall pine's gloomy crest, To rob the raven's ancient nest.
Their humble porch with honied flow'rs The curling woodbine's shade imbow'rs: From the small garden's thymy mound Their bees in busy swarms resound:
Nor fell Disease, before his time,
Hastes to consume life's golden prime:
But when their temples long have wore
The silver crown of tresses hoar;
As studious still calm peace to keep,
Beneath a flowery turf they sleep.
ON HIS LEAVING A FAVOURITE VILLAGE IN HAMPSHIRE,
Au mourn, thou lov'd retreat!
Shall classic steps thy scenes explore!
When morn's pale rays but faintly peep
O'er yonder oak-crown'd airy steep,
Who now shall climb its brows to view
The length of landscape, ever new,
Where Summer flings, in careless pride,
Her varied vesture far and wide ?
Who mark, beneath, each village-charm,
Or grange, or elm-encircled farm:
The flinty dove-cote's crowded roof,
Watch'd by the kite that sails aloof :
The tufted pines, whose umbrage tall
Darkens the long-deserted hall :
The veteran beech, that on the plain
Collects at eve the playful train:
The cot that smokes with early fire,
The low-roof'd fane's embosom'd spire ?
Who now shall indolently stray
Through the deep forest's tangled way ;
Pleas'd at his custom'd task to find
The well-known hoary-tressed hind,
That toils with feeble hands to glean
Of wither'd boughs his pittance mean?
Who mid thy nooks of hazel sit,
Lost in some melancholy fit;
And listening to the raven's croak,
The distant flail, the falling oak ?
Who, through the sunshine and the shower,
Descry the rainbow-painted tower ?
Who, wandering at return of May,
Catch the first cuckow's vernal lay?
Who musing waste the summer hour,
Where high o'er-arching trees embower
The grassy lane, so rarely pac'd,
With azare flow'rets idly grac'd?
Unnotic'd now, at twilight's dawn
Returning reapers cross the lawn;
Nor fond attention loves to note
The wether's bell from folds remote :
While, own'd by no poetic eye,
Thy pensive evenings shade the sky!
For lo ! the Bard who rapture found
In every rural sight or sound;
Whose genius warm, and judgment chaste,
No charm of genuine nature pass'd;
Who felt the Muse's purest fires,
Far from thy favour'd haunt retires;
Who peopled all thy vocal bowers
With shadowy shapes, and airy powers.
Behold, a dread repose resumes, As erst, thy sad sequester'd glooms !
From the deep dell, where shaggy roots
Fringe the rough brink with wreathed shoots,
Th' unwilling genius flies forlorn,
His primrose chaplet rudely torn.
With hollow shriek the nymphs forsake
The pathless copse and hedge-row brake :
Where the delv'd mountains headlong side
Its chalky entrails opens wide,
On the green summit, ambush'd high,
No longer Echo loves to lie.
No pearl-crown'd maids with wily look,
Rise beckoning from the reedy brook.
Around the glow-worm's glimmering bank,
No Fairies run in fiery rank ;
Nor brush, half-seen, in airy tread
The violet's unprinted head.
But Fancy, from the thickets brown,
The glades that wear a conscious frown,
The forest oaks, that, pale and lone,
Nod to the blast with hoarser tone,
Rough glens, and sullen waterfalls,
Her bright ideal offspring calls.
So by some sage enchanter's spell,
(As old Arabian fablers tell,)
Amid the solitary wild,
Luxuriant gardens gaily smil'd :
From sapphire rocks the fountains stream'd,
With golden fruit the branches beam'd;
Fair forms, in every wondrous wood,
Or lightly tripp’d, or solemn stood ;
And oft, retreating from the view,
Betray'd, at distance, beauties new: