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Or blushing crabs, or berries, that emboss
The bramble, black as jet, or sloes austere.
Hard fare! but such as boyish appetite
Disdains not; nor the palate, undeprav'd
By culinary arts, unsav'ry deems.
No sofa then awaited my return;
Nor sofa then I needed. Youth repairs
His wasted spirits quickly, by long toil
Incurring short fatigue; and, though our years,
As life declines, speed rapidly away,
And not a year but pilfers as he goes
Some youthful grace, that age would gladly keep)
A tooth or auburn lock, and by degrees
Their length and colour from the locks they spare;
The elastic spring of an unwearied foot,
That mounts the stile with ease, or leaps the fence,
That play of lungs, inhaling and again
Respiring freely the fresh air, that makes
Swift pace or steep ascent no toil to me,
Mine have not pilfer'd yet; nor yet impair'd
My relish of fair prospect ; scenes that sooth'd
Or charm’d me young, no longer young, I find
Still soothing, and of pow'r to charm me still.
And witness, dear companion of my walks,
Whose arm this twentieth winter I perceive
Fast lock'd in mine, with pleasure such as love,
Confirm’d by long experience of thy worth
And well-tried virtues, could alone inspire
Witness a joy that thou hast doubled long. Thou know'st my praise of nature most sincere, And that my raptures are not conjur'd up To serve occasions of poetic pomp, But genuine, and art partner of them all. How oft upon yon eminence our pace Has slacken'd to a pause, and we have borne The ruffling wind, scarce conscious that it blew, While Admiration, feeding at the eye, And still unsated, dwelt upon the scene. Thence with what pleasure have we just discern'd The distant plough slow moving, and beside His lab'ring team, that swerv’d not from the track, The sturdy swain diminish'd to a boy! Here Ouse, slow winding through a level plain Of spacious meads with cattle sprinkled o'er, Conducts the eye along his sinuous course Delighted. There, fast rooted in their bank, Stand, never overlook'd, our fav’rite elms, That screen the herdsman's solitary hut; While far beyond, and overthwart the stream, That, as with molten glass, inlays the vale, The sloping land recedes into the clouds ; Displaying on it's varied side the grace Of hedge-row beauties numberless, square tow'r, · Tall spire, from which the sound of cheerful bels Just undulates upon the list' ning ear, Groves, heaths, and smoking villages, remote,
Scenes must be beautiful, which daily viewd 17 al Please daily, and whose novelty survives
ini, ur Long knowledge and the scrutiny of years. ikut Praise justly due to those that I describe. -betulné
198 Nor rural sights alone, but rural sounds, Exhilarate the spirit, and restore The tone of languid Nature. Mighty winds, That sweep the skirt of some far-spreading wood Of ancient growth, make music not unlike The dash of Ocean on his winding shore,
11 And lull the spirit while they fill the mind; 41: 14. Unnumber'd branches waving in the blast, And all their leaves fast flutt'ring, all at once."*"1" Nor less composure waits upon the roar Of distant floods, or on the softer voice Of neighb'ring fountain, or of rills that slip Through the cleft rock, and, chiming as they fall Upon loose pebbles, lose themselves at length In matted grass, that with a livelier green Betrays the secret of their silent course. Nature inanimate employs sweet sounds, But animated nature sweeter still, To sooth and satisfy the human ear. Ten thousand warblers cheer the day, and one The livelong night: nor these alone, whose notes Nice-fingerd Art must emulate in vain, But cawing rooks, and kites that swim sublime I
In still repeated circles, screaming loud,
The jay, the pie, and ev'n the boding owl,
That hails the rising moon, have charms for me.
Sounds inharmonious in themselves and harsh,
Yet heard in scenes where peace for ever reigns,
And only there, please highly for their sake.
Peace to the artist, whose ingenious thought
Devis'd the weatherbouse, that useful toy !
Fearless of humid air and gath'ring rains,
Forth steps the man an emblem of myself!
More delicate his tim'rous mate retires.
When Winter soaks the fields, and female feet,
Too weak to struggle with tenacious clay,
Or ford the rivulets, are best at home,
The task of new discov'ries falls on me,
At such a season, and with such a charge,
Once went I forth;, and found, till then unknown,
A cottage, whither oft we since repair :
'Tis perch'd upon the green hill top, but close
Environ'd with a ring of branching elms,
That overhang the thatch, itself unseen
Peeps at the vale below; so thick beset
With foliage of such dark redundant growth,
I call'd the low-roof'd lodge the peasant's nest.
And, hidden as it is, and far remote
From such unpleasing sounds, as haunt the ear
In village or in town, the bay of curs
Incessant, clinking hammers, grinding wheels,
And infants clam'rous whether pleas'd or pain'd,
Oft have I wish'd the peaceful covert mine.
Here, I have said, at least I should possess
The poet's treasure, silence, and indulge
The dreams of fancy, tranquil and secure.
Vain thought! the dweller in that still retreat
Dearly obtains the refuge it affords.
It's elevated site forbids the wretch,
To drink sweet waters of the crystal well;
He dips his bowl into the weedy ditch,
And, heavy laden, brings his bev'rage home,
Far fetch'd and little worth ; nor seldom waits,
Dependant on the baker's punctual call,
To hear his creaking panniers at the door,
Angry, and sad, and his last crust consum'd.
So farewell envy of the peasant's nest !
If solitude make scant the means of life,
Society for me!-thou seeming sweet,
Be still a pleasing object in my view;
My visit still, but never mine abode.
Not distant far, a length of colonnade
Invites us. Monument of ancient taste,
Now scorn'd, but worthy of a better fate.
Our fathers knew the value of a screen
From sultry suns: and, in their shaded walks
And long protracted bow'rs, enjoy'd at noon