Page images
PDF
EPUB

THOMSON-A. D. 1700-48.

EXTRACTS FROM THE SEASONS.

SHOWERS IN SPRING.

The North-east spends his rage; he now shut up
Within his iron cave, th' effusive South
Warms the wide air, and o'er the void of heav'n
Breathes the big clouds with vernal showers distent.
At first a dusky wreath they seem to rise,
Scarce staining ether, but by swift degrees
In heaps on heaps the doubled vapour sails
Along the loaded sky, and, mingling deep,
Sits on the horizon round, a settled gloom ;
Not such as wintry storms on mortals shed,
Oppressing life, but lovely, gentle, kind,
And full of ev'ry hope, of ev'ry joy,
The wish of Nature. Gradual sinks the breeze
Into a perfect calm, that not a breath
Is heard to quiver through the closing woods,
Or rustling turn the many twinkling leaves
Of aspin tall. Th’uncurling floods, diffus'd
In glassy breadth seem through delusive lapse
Forgetful of their course. 'Tis silence all,
And pleasing expectation. Herds and flocks
Drop the dry sprig, and, mute-imploring, eye
The falling verdure. Hush'd in short suspense,
The plumy people streak their wings with oil,
To throw the lucid moisture trickling off,
And wait th' approaching sign to strike at once
Into the gen'ral choir. Ev’n mountains, vales,
And forests seem impatient to demand
The promis'd sweetness. Man superior walks
Amid the glad creation musing praise,
And looking lively gratitude. At last
The clouds consign their treasures to the fields,
And, softly shaking on the dimpled pool
Prelusive drops, let all their moisture flow
In large effusion o'er the freshen'd world.
The stealing show'r is scarce to patter heard
By such as wander through the forest walks,
Beneath th' umbrageous multitude of leaves.

Has pierc'd the streams, and rous'd the finny race;
Then, issuing cheerful, to thy sport repair;
Chief, should the western breezes curling play,
And light o'er ether bear the shadowy clouds.
High to their fount, this day, amid the hills
And woodlands warbling round, trace up the brooks;
The next, pursue their rocky channel'd maze
Down to the river, in whose ample wave
Their little Naiads love to sport at large.
Just in the dubious point, where with the pool
Is mix'd the trembling stream, or where it boils
Around the stone, or from the hollow'd bank
Reverted plays in undulating flow,
There throw, nice judging, the delusive fly,
And, as you lead it round in artful curve,
With eye attentive mark the springing game.
Straight as above the surface of the flood
They wanton rise, or urg'd by hunger leap,
Then fix with gentle twitch the barbed hook;
Some lightly tossing to the grassy bank,
And to the shelving shore slow-dragging some,
With various hand proportion'd to their force.
If yet too young, and easily deceiv'd,
A worthless prey scarce bends your pliant rod,
Him, piteous of his youth, and the short space
He has enjoy'd the vital light of heav'n,
Soft disengage, and back into the stream
The speckled captive throw, but should you lure
From his dark haunt, beneath the tangled roots
Of pendant trees, the monarch of the brook,
Behoves you then to ply your finest art.
Long time he, following cautious, scans the fly,
And oft attempts to seize it, but as oft
The dimpled water speaks his jealous fear;
At last, while haply o'er the shaded sun
Passes a cloud, he desp'rate takes the death
With sullen plunge: at once he darts along,
Deep-struck, and runs out all the lengthen'd line;
Then seeks the farthest ooze, the shelt'ring weed,
The cavern'd bank, his old secure abode,
And flies aloft, and flounces round the pool,
Indignant of the guile. With yielding hand
That feels him still, yet to his furious course
Gives way, you, now retiring, following now,
Across the stream, exhaust his idle rage,
Till floating broad upon his breathless side,
And to his fate abandon'd, to the shore
You gaily drag your unresisting prize.

Thus pass the temp'rate hours; but when the sun Shakes from his noondaythrone the scatt'ring clouds, Ev'n shooting listless languor through the deeps, Then seek the bank where flow'ring elders crowd,

ANGLING.

Now when the first foul torrent of the brooks,
Swell’d with the vernal rains, is ebb’d away,
And, whit’ning, down their mossy-tinctur'd stream
Descends the billowy foam, now is the time,
While yet the dark-brown water aids the guile,
To tempt the trout. The well-dissembled fly,
The rod, fine tap'ring with elastic spring,
Snatch'd from the hoary steed the floating line,
And all thy slender wat’ry stores prepare ;
When with his lively ray the potent sun

W

BIRDS IN SPRING.

a

Where scatter'd wild the lily of the vale

Indulg'd in vain. Some to the holly hedge Its balmy essence breathes, where cowslips hang Nestling repair, and to the thicket some; The dewy head, where purple violets lurk,

Some to the rude protection of the thorn With all the lowly children of the shade ;

Commit their feeble offspring; the clest tree Or lie reclin'd beneath yon spreading ash

Offers its kind concealment to a few, Hung o'er the steep; whence borne on liquid wing Their food its insects, and its moss their nests : The sounding culver shoots; or where the hawk Others apart, far in the grassy dale High in the beetling cliff his eyry builds ;

Or rough’ning waste their humble texture weave: There let the classic page thy fancy lead

But most in woodland solitudes delight, Through rural scenes, such as the Mantuan swain In unfrequented glooms or shaggy banks, Paints in the matchless harmony of

song;

Steep, and divided by a babbling brook, Or catch thyself the landscape, gliding swift Whose murmurs soothe them all the live-long day, Athwart imagination's vivid eye;

When by kind duty fixt. Among the roots Or by the vocal woods and waters lullid,

Of hazel pendent o'er the plaintive stream, And lost in lonely musing, in the dream

They frame the first foundation of their domes, Confus'd of careless solitude, where mix

Dry sprigs of trees, in artful fabric laid, Ten thousand wand'ring images of things,

And bound with clay together. Now 'tis nought Sooth ev'ry gust of passion into peace,

But restless hurry through the busy air, All but the swellings of the soften'd heart,

Beat by unnumber'd wings. The swallow sweeps That waken not disturb the tranquil mind.

The slimy pool, to build his hanging house
Intent; and often from the careless back

Of herds and flocks a thousand tugging bills
When first the soul of love is sent abroad,

Pluck bair and wool; and oft, when unobserv’d, Warm through the vital air, and on the heart Steal from the barn a straw; till soft and warm, Harmonious seizes, the gay troops begin,

Clean and complete, their habitation grows. In gallant thought, to plume the painted wing, As thus the patient dam assiduous sits, And try again the long-forgottenst rain,

Not to be tempted from her tender task, At first faint warbled; but no sooner grows

Or by sharp hunger or by smooth delight, The soft infusion prevalent and wide,

Though the whole loosen'd spring around her blows; Than, all alive, at once their joy o'erflows

Her sympathizing lover takes his stand In music unconfin’d. Up springs the lark,

High on the opponent bank, and ceaseless sings Shrill-voic'd and loud, the messenger of morn; The tedious time away; or else supplies Ere yet the shadows fly, he mounted sings

Her place a moment, while she sudden flits Amid the dawning clouds, and from their haunts To pick the scanty meal. Th’appointed time Calls up the tuneful nations. Ev'ry copse

With pious toil fulfill'd, the callow young Deep-tangled, tree irregular, and bush

Warm'd and expanded into perfect life, Bending with dewy moisture, o'er the heads Their brittle bondage break and come to light, Of the coy quiristers that lodge within

A helpless family! demanding food Are prodigal of harmony. The thrush

With constant clamour: O what passions then, And wood-lark, o'er the kind contending throng What melting sentiments of kindly care, Superior heard, run through the sweetest length On the new parent seize! away they fly Of notes; when list’ning Philomela deigns

Affectionate, and, undesiring, bear To let them joy, and purposes, in thought

The most delicious morsel to their young, Elate, to make her night excel their day.

Which equally distributed, again The blackbird whistles from the thorny brake; The search begins. Ev’n so a gentle pair, The mellow bulfinch answers from the grove; By fortune sunk, but form’d of gen'rous mould, Nor are the linnets, o'er the flow'ring furze

And charm’d with cares beyond the vulgar breast, Pour'd out profusely, silent. Join'd to these, In some lone cot, amid the distant woods Innum'rous songsters in the fresh’ning shade Sustain'd alone by providential Heav'n, Of new-sprung leaves their modulations mix Oft as they, weeping, eye their infant train, Mellifluous : the jay, the rook, the daw,

Check their own appetites, and give them all. And each harsh pipe, discordant heard alone,

Nor toil alone they scorn ; exalting love, Aid the full concert, while the stock-dove breathes By the great Father of the Spring inspir’d, A melancholy murmur through the whole.

Gives instant courage to the fearful race, 'Tis love creates their melody, and all

And to the simple art. With stealthy wing, This waste of music is the voice of love.

Should some rude foot their woody haunts molest,

Amid the neighb'ring bush they silent drop, Connubial leagues agreed, to the deep woods And whirring thence, as if alarm’d, deceive They haste away, all as their fancy leads,

Th’ unfeeling school-boy. Hence around the head Pleasure, or food, or secret safety, prompts;

Of wand'ring swain the white-wing'd plover wheels That nature's great command may be obey'd :

Her sounding flight, and then directly on, Nor all the sweet sensations they perceive

In long excursion, skims the level lawn

*

MORNING.

To tempt him from her nest. The wild-duck hence Unstain'd he holds, while many a league to see O'er the rough moss, and o'er the trackless waste He wings his course, and preys in distant isles. The heath-hen flutters: pious fraud! to lead

Should I my steps turn to the rural seat, The hot-pursuing spaniel far astray.

Whose lofty elms and venerable oaks Be not the Muse asham'd here to bemoan

Invite the rook, who high amid the boughs, Her brothers of the grove, by tyrant man

In early spring, his airy city builds, Inhuman caught, and in the narrow cage

And ceaseless caws amusive; there, well-pleas'd, From liberty confin’d and boundless air.

I might the various polity survey Dull are the pretty slaves, their plumage dull, Of the mix'd household kind. The careful hen Ragged, and all its brightning lustre lost;

Calls all her chirping family around, Nor is that sprightly wildness in their notes

Fed and defended by the fearless cock, Which, clear and vig'rous, warbles from the beech. Whose breast with ardour flames as on he walks But let not chief the nightingale lament

Graceful, and crows defiance. In the pond Her ruin'd care, too delicately fram'd,

The finely-chequer'd duck before her train To brook the harsh confinement of the cage. Rows garrulous. The stately-sailing swan Oft when returning with her loaded bill,

Gives out his snowy plumage to the gale, Th' astonish'd mother finds a vacant nest,

And arching proud his neck, with oary feet By the hard hand of unrelenting clowns

Bears forward fierce, and guards his osier-isle, Robb’d, to the ground the vain provision falls; Protective of his young. The turkey nigh, Her pinions ruffle, and low-drooping, scarce Loud threatning, reddens; while the peacock Can bear the mourner to the poplar shade,

His ev'ry-coloured glory to the sun, (spreads Where, all abandon’d to despair, she sings

And swims in radiant majesty aloug. Her sorrows through the night, and on the bough O'er the whole homely scene the cooing dove Sole sitting, still at ev'ry dying fall

Flies thick in am'rous chase, and wanton rolls Takes up again her lamentable strain

The glancing eye, and turns the changeful neck. Of winding woe, till, wide around, the woods Sigh to her song, and with her wail resound.

But now the feather'd youth their former bounds, The meek-ey'd morn appears, mother of dews. Ardent, disdain, and, weighing oft their wings, At first faint-gleaming in the dappled east, Demand the free possession of the sky.

Blue through the dusk the smoking currents shine, This one glad office more, and then dissolves

And from the bladed field the fearful hare Parental love at once, now needless grown.

Limps aukward ; while along the forest glade Unlavish wisdom never works in vain.

The wild deer trip, and often turning, gaze 'Tis on some ev'ning, sunny, grateful, mild,

At early passenger. Music awakes When nought but balm is breathing thro' the woods, The native voice of undissembled joy, With yellow lustre bright, that the new tribes And thick around the woodland hymns arise. Visit the spacious heav'ns, and look abroad

Rous’d by the cock, the soon-clad shepherd leaves On nature's common, far as they cau see,

His mossy cottage, where with peace he dwells, Or wing their range and pasture. O’er the boughs And from the crowded fold in order drives Dancing about, still at the giddy verge

His flock to taste the verdure of the morn.
Their resolution fails; their pinions still
In loose libration stretch'd, to trust the void

SHEEP-SHEARING.
Trembling refuse, till down before them fly

Rushing thence in one diffusive band, The parent guides, and chide, exhort, command, They drive the troubled flocks, by many a dog Or push them off. The surging air receives Compell'd, to where the mazy-running brook Its plumy burden, and their self-taught wings Forms a deep pool ; this bank abrupt and high, Winnow the waving element. On ground

And that fair spreading in a pebbled shore. Alighted, bolder up again they lead,

Urg'd to the giddy brink, much is the toil, Farther and farther on, the length’ning flight, The clamour much of men, and boys, and dogs, Till vanish'd ev'ry fear, and ev'ry pow'r

Ere the soft fearful people to the flood Rous’d into life and action, light in air

Commit their woolly sides; and oft the swain, Th' acquitted parents see their soaring race, On some, impatient, seizing, hurls them in: And, once rejoicing, never know them more. Embolden'd then, nor hesitating more, High from the summit of a craggy cliff,

Fast, fast they plunge amid the flashing wave, Hung o'er the deep, such as amazing frowns And, panting, labour to the farthest shore. On utmost Kilda's shore, whose lonely race

Repeated this, till deep the well-wash'd fleece Resign the setting sun to Indian worlds,

Has drunk the flood, and from his lively haunt The royal eagle draws his vig’rous young,

The trout is banish'd by the sordid stream, Strong pounc'd, and ardent with paternal fire: Heavy, and dripping, to the breezy brow Now fit to raise a kingdom of their own,

Slow move the harmless race, where, as they spread He drives them from his fort, the tow'ring seat Their swelling treasures to the sunny ray, For ages of his empire, which in peace

Iuly disturb’d, and wond'ring what this wild

me,

Outrageous tumult means, their loud complaints Unnumber'd fruits, of keen delicious taste
The country fill, and, toss'd from rock to rock And vital spirit, drink amid the cliffs,
Incessant bleatings run around the hills.

And burning sands that bank the shrubby vales, At last, of snowy white, the gather'd flocks

Redoubled day, yet in their rugged coats Are in the wattled pen innum'rous press’d,

A friendly juice to cool its rage contain. Head above head; and rang'd in lusty rows

Bear Pomona ! to thy citron groves, The shepherds sit, and whet the sounding shears.

To where the lemon and the piercing lime, The housewife waits to roll her fleecy stores,

With the deep orange glowing through the green, With all her gay-dress’d maids attending round. Their lighter glories blend. Lay me reclin'd One, chief, in gracious dignity enthron'd,

Beneath the spreading tamarind, that shakes, Shines o'er the rest the past'ral queen, and rays Fann'd by the breeze, its fever-cooling fruit. Her smiles, sweet beaming, on her shepherd-king ; Deep in the night the massy locust sheds, While the glad circle round them yield their souls Quench my hot limbs, or lead me thro' the maze, To festive mirth, and wit that knows no gall. Embow'ring endless, of the Indian fig; Meantime their joyous task goes on apace;

Or thrown at gayer ease on some fair brow, Some mingling stir the melted tar, and some

Let me behold, by breezy murmurs cool'd, Deep on the new-shorn vagrant's heaving side

Broad o'er my head the verdant cedar wave, To stamp his master's cipher ready stand;

And high palmetos lift their graceful shade; Others th' unwilling wether drag along;

Or stretch'd amid these orchards of the sun, And, glorying in his might, the sturdy boy

Give me to drain the cocoa's milky bowl, Holds by the twisted horns th’indignant ram. And from the palm to draw its fresh’ning wine ; Beliold where bound, and of its robe bereft

More bounteous far than all the frantic juice By needy man, that all-depending lord,

Which Bacchus pours. Nor on its slender twigs, How meek, how patient, the mild creature lies! Low-bending, be the full pomegranate scorn’d; What softness in its melancholy face,

Nor, creeping through the woods, the gelid race What dumb-complaining innocence appears!

Of berries. Oft in humble station dwells
Fear not, ye gentle tribes ! 'tis not the knife Unboastful worth, above fastidious pomp.
Of horrid slaughter that is o'er you wav'd;

Witness, thou best anana! thou, the pride
No, 'tis the tender swain's well-guided shears, Of vegetable life, beyond whate'er
Who having now, to pay his annual care,

The poets imag'd in the golden age :
Borrow'd your fleece, to you a cumbrous load, Quick let me strip thee of thy tufty coat,
Will send you bounding to your hills again.

Spread thy ambrosial stores, and feast with Jove!

From these the prospect varies. Plains immense DESCRIPTION OF THE TROPICS.

Lie stretch'd below, interminable meads, Now while I taste the sweetness of the shade,

And vast savannahs, where the wand'ring eye, Where nature lies around deep lull'd in noon,

Unfix'd, is in a verdant ocean lost. Now come, bold fancy! spread a daring flight,

Another Flora there, of bolder hues, And view the wonders of the torrid zone;

And richer sweets, beyond our gardens' pride, Climes unrelenting! with whose rage compar'd, Plays o'er the fields, and show'rs with sudden hand Yon blaze is feeble, and yon skies are cool.

Exuberant spring: for oft these vallies shift See how at once the bright effulgent sun,

Their green embroider'd robe to fiery brown, Rising direct, swift chases from the sky

And swift to green again, as scorching suns, The short liv'd twilight, and with ardent blaze Or streaming dews and torrent rains, prevail. Looks gaily fierce through all the dazzling air: Along these lonely regions, where retird He mounts his throne; but kind before him sends, From little scenes of art great nature dwells Issuing from out the portals of the morn,

In awful solitude, and nought is seen The gen’ral breeze, to mitigate his fire,

But the wild herds that own no master's stall, And breathe refreshment on a fainting world. Prodigious rivers roll their fatt’ning seas, Great are the scenes, with dreadful beauty crown'd On whose luxuriant herbage, half conceal’d, And barb'rous wealth, that see each circling year Like a fall'n cedar, far diffus'd his train, Returning suns and double seasons pass;

Cas'd in green scales the crocodile extends. Rocks rich in gems, and mountains big with mines, The flood disparts; behold! in plaited mail That on the high equator ridgy rise ;

Behemoth rears his head. Glanc'd from his side Majestic woods, of ev'ry vig'rous green,

The darted steel in idle shivers flies; Stage above stage, high waving o'er the hills; He fearless walks the plain, or seeks the hills, Or to the far horizon wide diffus'd,

Where as he crops his varied fare, the herds, A boundless, deep, immensity of shade.

In wid’ning circle round, forget their food, Here lofty trees, to ancient song unknown,

And at the harmless stranger wond'ring gaze. The noble sons of potent heat, and floods

Peaceful beneath primeval trees, that cast Prone-rushing from the clouds, rear high to Heav'n Their ample shade o'er Niger's yellow stream, Their thorny stems, and broad around them throw And where the Ganges rolls his sacred wave, Meridian gloom: here, in eternal prime,

Or mid the central depth of black’ning woods,

*

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

High rais'd in solemn theatre around,

The coming rage. Th’awaken'd village starts, Leans the huge elephant, wisest of brutes !

And to her fluttering breast the mother strains O truly wise! with gentle might endow'd,

Her thoughtless infant. From the pirate's den, Though powerful not destructive ! here he sees Or stern Morocco's tyrant fang escap'd, Revolving ages sweep the changeful earth,

The wretch half wishes for his bonds again; And empires rise and fall; regardless he

While, uproar all, the wilderness resounds Of what the never-resting race of men

From Atlas eastward to the frighted Nile.
Project: thrice happy! could he 'scape their guile, Unhappy he! who from the first of joys,
Who mine, from cruel avarice, his steps,

Society, cut off, is left alone
Or with his tow'ry grandeur swell their state, Amid this world of death. Day after day
The pride of kings! or else his strength pervert, Sad on the jutting eminence he sits,
And bid him rage amid the mortal fray,

And views the main that ever toils below,
Astonish'd at the madness of mankind.

Still fondly forming in the farthest verge, Wide o'er the winding umbrage of the floods, Where the round ether mixes with the wave, Like vivid blossoms glowing from afar,

Ships dim-discover'd dropping from the clouds: Thick swarm the brighter birds ! for nature's hand, At evening to the setting sun he turns That with a sportive vanity has deck'd

A mournful eye, and down his dying heart The plumy nations, there her gayest hues

Sinks helpless, while the wonted roar is up, Profusely pours. But if she bids them shine, And hiss continual through the tedious night. Array’l in all the beauteous beams of day, Yet, frugal still, she humbles them in song.

Nor stop the terror of these regions here. Nor envy we the gaudy robes they lent

Commission's demons oft, angels of wrath, Proud Montezuma's realm, whose legions cast Let loose the raging elements. Breath'd hot A boundless radiance waving on the sun,

From all the boundless furnace of the sky, While Philomel is ours; while in our shades,

And the wide-glittering waste of burning sand, Through the soft silence of the list’ning night, A suffocating wind the pilgrim smites The sober-suited songstress trills her lay.

With instant death. Patient of thirst and toil,

Son of the desert! ev'n the camel feels Lo! the green serpent, from his dark abode,

Shot through his wither'd heart the fiery blast. Which ev'n imagination fears to tread,

Or from the black-red ether, bursting broad, At noon forth issuing, gathers up his train

Sallies the sudden whirlwind. Straight the sands, In orbs immense : then darting out anew,

Commov'd around, in gath’ring eddies play; Seeks the refreshing fount, by which diffus’d

Nearer and nearer still they dark’ning come, He throws his folds: and while with threat'ning Till with the gen’ral all-involving storm And deathful jaws erect the monster curls (tongue

Swept up, the whole continuous wilds arise; His flaming crest, all other thirst appallid

And by their noonday fount dejected thrown, Or shiv'ring flies, or check'd, at distance stands,

Or sunk at night in sad disastrous sleep, Nor dares approach. But still more direful he,

Beneath descending hills the caravan The small close-lurking minister of fate,

Is buried deep. In Cairo's crowded streets Whose high-concocted venom through the veins Th’ impatient merchant, wond'ring, waits in vain; A rapid lightning darts, arresting swift

And Mecca saddens at the long delay. The vital current. Form’d to humble man,

But chief at sea, whose ev'ry flexile wave This child of vengeful nature! there sublim'd

Obeys the blast, the aerial tumult swells. To fearless lust of blood, the savage race

In the dread ocean, undulating wide Roam, licens'd by the shading hour of guilt

Beneath the radiant line that girts the globe, And foul misdeed, when the pure day has shut The circling Typhon, whirl'd from point to point, His sacred eye. The tyger, darting fierce,

Exhausting all the rage of all the sky, Impetuous on the prey his glance has doom'd;

And dire Ecnephia reign. Amid the heav'ns, The lively-shining leopard speckled o'er

Falsely serene, deep in a cloudy speck With many a spot, the beauty of the waste;

Compress'd, the mighty tempest brooding dwells, And, scorning all the taming arts of man,

Of no regard save to the skilful eye: The keen hyena, fellest of the fell.

Fiery and foul, the small prognostic hangs These rushing from th' inhospitable woods

Aloft, or on the promontory's brow Of Mauritania, or the tufted isles

Musters its force: a faint deceitful calm, That verdant rise amid the Lybian wild,

A flutt'ring gale, the demon sends before, Innum'rous glare around their shaggy king, To tempt the spreading sail : then down at once, Majestic, stalking o'er the printed sand;

Precipitant, descends a mingled mass And with imperious and repeated roars

Of roaring winds, and flame, and rushing floods. Demand their fated food. The fearful flocks

In wild amazement fix'd the sailor stands. Crowd near the guardian swain; the nobler herds, Art is too slow; by rapid fate oppress’d, Where round their lordly bull in rural ease

His broad-wing'd vessel drinks the whelming tide, They ruminating lie, with horror hear

Hid in the bosom of the black abyss.

« PreviousContinue »