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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,
The sprite of dreams hath bid thee stray ?
Hast thou not some fair object seen,
And, when the fleeting 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 near
He's ranging near yon mountain's head.
Scarce had one pale moon pass'd away,
And fill'd her silver urn again,
Afar from all his woodland train,
And, all to shun the fervid hour,
And found the visionary bower.
THOMAS GRAY. 1716–1771.
ODE ON A DISTANT PROSPECT OF ETON COLLEGE.
Ye distant spires, ye antique towers,
That crown the watery glade,
Her Henry's holy shade;
Of grove, of lawn, of mead survey,
His silver-winding way.
Ah, happy hills, ah, pleasing shade,
Ah, fields beloved in vain,
A stranger yet to pain !
As, waving fresh their gladsome wing,
To breathe a second spring.
Say, father Thames, for thou hast seen
Full many a sprightly race,
The paths of pleasure trace,
The captive linnet which enthral ?
Or urge the flying ball ?
While some, on earnest business bent,
Their murmuring labours ply 'Gainst graver hours, that bring constraint
To sweeten liberty ;
And unknown regions dare descry:
And snatch a fearful joy.
Less pleasing when possess'd;
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.
The little victims play!
No care beyond to-day.
And black Misfortune's baleful train.
Ah, tell them they are men! These shall the fury passions tear,
The vultures of the mind,
And Shame that skulks behind;
That inly gnaws the secret heart:
And Sorrow's piercing dart.
Ambition this shall tempt to rise,
Then whirl the wretch from high,
And grinning Infamy;
That mocks the tear it forced to flow;
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:
Those in the deeper vitals rage :
And slow-consuming Age.
Condemn'd alike to groan:
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.