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Through the imperceptible meandering veins
Of leaf and flower? It sleeps; and the icy touch
Of unprolific winter has impress'd
A cold stagnation on the intestine tide.
But let the months go round, a few short months, 140
And all shall be restored 8. These naked shoots,
Barren as lances, among which the wind
Makes wintry music, sighing as it goes,
Shall put their graceful foliage on again,
And more aspiring and with ampler spread
Shall boast new charms, and more than they have lost.
Then, each in its peculiar honours clad,
Shall publish even to the distant eye
Its family and tribe. Laburnum rich
In streaming gold; syringa ivory pure;
The scented and the scentless rose; this red
And of an humbler growth, the other tall,
And throwing up into the darkest gloom
Of neighbouring cypress or more sable yew
Her silver globes, light as the foamy surf
That the wind severs from the broken wave.
The lilac various in array, now white,
Now sanguine, and her beauteous head now set
With purple spikes pyramidal, as if
Studious of ornament, yet unresolved
Which hue she most approved, she chose them all.
Yet bear up awhile
And what your bounded view, which only saw
A little part, deem'd evil is no more:
The storms of wintry time will quickly pass,
And one unbounded Spring encircle all.
Copious of flowers the woodbine, pale and wan,
But well compensating their sickly looks
With never-cloying odours, early and late.
Hypericum all bloom, so thick a swarm
Of flowers like flies clothing her slender rods
That scarce a leaf appears. Mezerion too,
Though leafless, well attired, and thick beset
With blushing wreaths investing every spray.
Althea with the purple eye; the broom,
Yellow and bright as bullion unalloy'd
Her blossoms; and luxuriant above all
The jasmine, throwing wide her elegant sweets,
The deep dark green of whose unvarnish'd leaf
Makes more conspicuous, and illumines more
The bright profusion of her scatter'd stars.
These have been, and these shall be in their day;
And all this uniform uncoloured scene
Shall be dismantled of its fleecy load,
And flush into variety again.
From dearth to plenty, and from death 1o to life,
Is Nature's progress when she lectures man
In heavenly truth; evincing as she makes
The grand transition", that there lives and works
A soul in all things, and that soul is God.
The beauties of the wilderness are his,
That make so gay the solitary place
Where no eye sees them. And the fairer forms
10 The earth, that's nature's mother, is her tomb, What is her burying place that is her womb.
11 Builds life on death, on change duration founds. Pope. 3d Mor. Ess. 167.
That cultivation glories in, are his.
He sets the bright procession on its way,
And marshals all the order of the year.
He marks the bounds which winter may not pass,
And blunts his pointed fury. In its case
Russet and rude, folds up the tender germ
Uninjured, with inimitable art,
And ere one flowery season fades and dies
Designs the blooming wonders of the next.
Some say that in the origin of things,
When all creation started into birth,
The infant elements received a law
From which they swerve not since. That under force
Of that controling ordinance they move,
And need not his immediate hand, who first
Prescribed their course, to regulate it now.
Thus dream they, and contrive to save a God
The encumbrance of his own concerns, and spare
The great Artificer of all that moves
The stress of a continual act, the pain
Of unremitted vigilance and care,
As too laborious and severe a task.
So man the moth, is not afraid it seems
To span Omnipotence, and measure might
That knows no measure, by the scanty rule
And standard of his own, that is to-day,
And is not ere to-morrow's sun go down.
But how should matter occupy a charge
Dull as it is, and satisfy a law
So vast in its demands, unless impell'd
To ceaseless service by a ceaseless force,
And under pressure of some conscious cause?
The Lord of all, himself through all diffused,
Sustains and is the life of all that lives.
Nature is but a name for an effect
Whose cause is God. He feeds the secret fire
By which the mighty process is maintain'd,
Who sleeps not, is not weary; in whose sight
Slow-circling ages are as transient days;
Whose work is without labour, whose designs
No flaw deforms, no difficulty thwarts,
And whose beneficence no charge exhausts.
Him blind antiquity profaned, not served,
With self-taught rites and under various names,
Female and male, Pomona, Pales, Pan,
And Flora and Vertumnus; peopling earth
With tutelary goddesses and gods
That were not, and commending as they would
To each some province, garden, field, or grove.
But all are under One. One spirit-His
Who bore the platted thorns with bleeding brows,
Rules universal nature. Not a flower
But shows some touch in freckle, streak or stain,
Of his unrivall❜d pencil. He inspires
Their balmy odours and imparts their hues,
And bathes their eyes with nectar, and includes
In grains as countless as the sea-side sands,
The forms with which he sprinkles all the earth.
Happy who walks with him! whom what he finds
Of flavour or of scent in fruit or flower,
Or what he views of beautiful or grand
In Nature, from the broad majestic oak
To the green blade that twinkles in the sun,
Prompts with remembrance of a present God.
His presence who made all so fair, perceived,
Makes all still fairer. As with him no scene
Is dreary, so with him all seasons please 12.
Though winter had been none had man been true,
And earth be punished for its tenant's sake,
Yet not in vengeance; as this smiling sky
So soon succeeding such an angry night,
And these dissolving snows 13, and this clear stream
Recovering fast its liquid music, prove.
Who then that has a mind well strung and tuned
To contemplation, and within his reach
A scene so friendly to his favourite task,
Would waste attention at the chequer'd board 11, 265
His host of wooden warriors to and fro
Marching and counter-marching, with an eye
As fixt as marble, with a forehead ridged
And furrow'd into storms, and with a hand
Trembling, as if eternity were hung
In balance on his conduct of a pin 15?
Nor envies he aught more their idle sport
Who pant with application misapplied
To trivial toys, and pushing ivory balls
Across the velvet level, feel a joy
12 With thee conversing I forget all time,
All seasons and their change all please alike.
Pur. Lost, iv. 637.
13 Dissolving snows in livid torrents lost.
14 Turpe est difficiles habere nugas. Martial.
15 Or if he [Alexander] played at chess, what string of his soul was not touched by this idle and childish game! I hate and avoid it because it is not play enough; it is too grave and serious a diversion, and I am ashamed to lay out as much thought and study upon that as would serve to much better uses.-Montaigne, (Cotton's), i. 50.