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'Tis told, and I believe the tale,

At this soft hour that sprite was there, And spread with fairer flowers the vale,

And fill'd with sweeter sounds the air. A bower he framed (for he could frame

What long might weary mortal wight: Swift as the lightning's rapid flame

Darts on the unsuspecting sight).

Such bower he framed with magic hand,

As well that wizard bard hath wove, In scenes where fair Armida's wand

Waved all the witcheries of love :

Yet was it wrought in simple show;

Nor Indian mines nor Orient shores Had lent their glories here to glow,

Or yielded here their shining stores. All round a poplar's trembling arms

The wild rose wound her damask flower; The woodbine lent her spicy charms,

That loves to weaye the lover's bower.

The ash, that courts the mountain air,

In all her painted blooms array'd, The wilding's blossom blushing fair,

Combined to form the flowery shade. With thyme that loves the brown hill's breast,

The cowslip's sweet, reclining head, The violet of sky-woven vest,

Was all the fairy ground bespread. But who is he, whose locks so fair

Adown his manly shoulders flow? Beside him lies the hunter's spear, Beside him sleeps the warrior's bow.

He bends to Ellen-(gentle sprite,

Thy sweet, seductive arts forbear)— He courts her arms with fond delight,

And instant vanishes in air.


Hast thou not found, at early, dawii,

Some soft ideas melt away,
If o'er sweet vale or flow'ry lawn

The sprite of dreams hath bid thee stray Hast thou not some fair object seen,

And, when the ffeeting form was past, Still on thy memory found its mien,

And felt the fond idea last?

Thou hast; and oft the pictured view,

Seen in some vision counted vain, Has struck the wondering eye anew,

And brought the long-lost dream again. With warrior-bow, with hunter's spear,

With locks adown his shoulder spread, Young Nithisdale is ranging nearHe's ranging near yon mountain's head.

Scarce had one pale moon pass'd away,

And fill'd her silver urn again, When in the devious chase to stray,

Afar from all his woodland train,

To Carron's banks his fåte consign'd;

And, all to shun the fervid hour,
He sought some friendly shade to find,

And found the visionary bower.

THOMAS GRAY. 1716–1771.


Ye distant spires, ye antique towers,

That crown the watery glade,
Where grateful science still adores

Her Henry's holy shade;
And ye, that from the stately brow
Of Windsor's heights th’ expanse below

Of grove, of lawn, of mead survey,
Whose turf, whose shade, whose flowers among,
Wanders the hoary Thames along

His silver-winding way.

Ah, happy hills, ah, pleasing shade,

Ah, fields beloved in vain,
Where once my careless childhood stray'd,

A stranger yet to pain !
I feel the gales that from ye blow,
A momentary bliss bestow,

As, waving fresh their gladsome wing,
My weary soul they seem to sooth,
And, redolent of joy and youth,

To breathe a second spring.

Say, father Thames, for thou hast seen

Full many a sprightly race,
Disporting on thy margent green,

The paths of pleasure trace,
Who foremost now delight to cleave
With pliant arm thy glassy wave?

The captive linnet which enthral ?
What idle progeny succeed
To chase the rolling circle's speed,

Or urge the flying ball ?

While some, on earnest business bent,

Their murmuring labours ply 'Gainst graver hours, that bring constraint

To sweeten liberty ;
Some bold adventurers disdain
The limits of their little reign,

And unknown regions dare descry:
Still, as they run, they look behind,
They hear a voice in every wind,

And snatch a fearful joy.
Gay Hope is theirs, by Fancy fed,

Less pleasing when possess'd;
The tear forgot as soon as shed,

The sunshine of the breast : Their buxom health, of rosy hue : Wild wit, invention ever new,

And lively cheer, of vigour born; The thoughtless day, the easy night, The spirits pure, the slumbers light,

That fly th' approach of morn.
Alas, regardless of their doom,

The little victims play!
No sense have they of ills to come,

No care beyond to-day.
Yet see how all around them wait
The ministers of human fate,

And black Misfortune's baleful train.
Ah, show them where in ambush stand
To seize their prey, the niurderous band !

Ah, tell them they are men! These shall the fury passions tear,

The vultures of the mind,
Disdainful Anger, pallid Fear,

And Shame that skulks behind;
Or pining Love shall waste their youth,
Or Jealousy, with rankling tooth,

That inly gnaws the secret heart:
And Envy wan, and faded Care,
Grim-visaged, comfortless Despair,

And Sorrow's piercing dart.

Ambition this shall tempt to rise,

Then whirl the wretch from high,
To bitter Scorn a sacrifice,

And grinning Infamy;
The stings of Falsehood those shall try,
And hard Unkindness' alter'd eye,

That mocks the tear it forced to flow;
And keen Remorse, with blood defiled,
And moody Madness laughing wild

Amid severest wo.

Lo, in the vale of years beneath

A grisly troop are seen, The painful family of Death,

More hideous than their queen:
This racks the joints, this fires the veins,
That every labouring sinew strains,

Those in the deeper vitals rage :
Lo, Poverty, to fill the band,
That numbs the soul with icy hand,

And slow-consuming Age.
To each his sufferings : all are men,

Condemn'd alike to groan:
The tender for another's pain,

The unfeeling for his own. Yet ah! why should they know their fate! Since sorrow never comes too late,

And happiness too swiftly flies. Thought would destroy their Paradise. No more; where ignorance is bliss,

'Tis folly to be wise.

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