« PreviousContinue »
What are the fields, or flowers, or all I see?
Ah! tasteless all, if not enjoy'd with thee.
'Joy to my soul! I feel the goddess nigh,
The face of Nature cheers as well as I;
O'er the flat green refreshing breezes run,
The smiling daisies blow beneath the sun,
The brooks run purling down with silver waves,
The planted lanes rejoice with dancing leaves,
The chirping birds from all the compass rove
To tempt the tuneful echoes of the grove:
High sunny summits, deeply shaded dales,
Thick mossy banks, and flowery winding vales,
With various prospect gratify the sight,
And scatter fix'd attention in delight.
'Come, country goddess, come, nor thou suffice,
But bring thy mountain-sister, Exercise.
Call'd by thy lovely voice, she turns her pace,
Her winding horn proclaims the finish'd chase;
She mounts the rocks, she skims the level plain,
Dogs, hawks, and horses, crowd her early train:
Her hardy face repels the tanning wind,
And lines and meshes loosely float behind.
All these as means of toil the feeble see,
But these are helps to pleasure join'd with thee.
'Let Sloth lie softening till high noon in down,
Or, lolling, fan her in the sultry town,
Unnerved with rest; and turn her own disease,
Or foster others in luxurious ease:
I mount the courser, call the deep-mouth'd hounds,
The fox unkennell'd flies to covert grounds;
I lead where stags through tangled thickets tread,
And shake the saplings with their branching head;
I make the falcons wing their airy way,
And soar to seize, or stooping strike their prey;
To snare the fish I fix the luring bait;
To wound the fowl I load the gun with fate:
'Tis thus through change of exercise I range,
And strength and pleasure rise from every change.
Here, beauteous Health! for all the year remain,
When the next comes, I'll charm thee thus again.
Oh come! thou goddess of my rural song,
And bring thy daughter, calm Content, along;
Dame of the ruddy cheek and laughing eye,
From whose bright presence clouds of sorrow fly:
For her I mow my walks, I plat my bowers,
Clip my low hedges, and support my flowers;
To welcome her, this summer seat I dress'd,
And here I court her when she comes to rest;
When she from exercise to learned ease
Shall change again, and teach the change to please.
Now friends conversing my soft hours refine,
And Tully's Tusculum revives in mine:
Now to grave books I bid the mind retreat,
And such as make me rather good than great:
Or o'er the works of easy fancy rove,
Where flutes and innocence amuse the grove :
The native bard that on Sicilian plains
First sung the lowly manners of the swains;
Or Maro's Muse that in the fairest light
Paints rural prospects and the charms of sight;
These soft amusements bring Content along,
And fancy, void of sorrow, turns to song.
Here, beauteous Health! for all the year remain,
When the next comes, I'll charm thee thus again.'
WHEN in the river cows for coolness stand,
And sheep for breezes seek the lofty land,
A youth, whom Æsop taught that every tree,
Each bird, and insect, spoke as well as he;
Walk'd calmly musing in a shady way,
Where flowering hawthorns broke the sunny ray,
And thus instructs his moral pen to draw
A scene, that obvious in the field he saw.
Near a low ditch, where shallow waters meet,
Which never learn'd to glide with liquid feet,
Whose Naiads never prattle as they play,
But, screen'd with hedges, slumber out the day,
There stands a slender fern's aspiring shade,
Whose answering branches regularly laid,
Put forth their answering boughs, and proudly rise
Three stories upward, in the nether skies.
For shelter here, to shun the noon-day heat, An airy nation of the flies retreat; Some in soft airs their silken pinions ply, And some from bough to bough delighted fly, Some rise, and circling light to perch again; A pleasing murmur hums along the plain. So, when a stage invites to pageant shows, (If great and small are like) appear the beaux; In boxes some with spruce pretension sit, Some change from seat to seat within the pit, Some roam the scenes, or, turning, cease to roam; Preluding music fills the lofty dome.
When thus a Fly (if what a Fly can say Deserves attention) raised the rural lay:
Where late Amintor made a nymph a bride, Joyful I flew by young Favonia's side, Who, mindless of the feasting, went to sip The balmy pleasure of the shepherd's lip. I saw the wanton, where I stoop'd to sup, And half resolved to drown me in the cup; Till brush'd by careless hands, she soar'd above: Cease, beauty! cease to vex a tender love.'
Thus ends the youth, the buzzing meadow rung, And thus the rival of his music sung:
"When suns by thousands shone in orbs of dew, I, wafted soft, with Zephyretta flew;
Saw the clean pail, and sought the milky cheer,
While little Daphne seized my roving dear.
Wretch that I was! I might have warn'd the dame,
Yet sat indulging as the danger came;
But the kind huntress left her free to soar:
Ah! guard, ye lovers, guard a mistress more.'
Thus from the fern, whose high projecting arms
The fleeting nation bent with dusky swarms,
The swains their love in easy music breathe,
When tongues and tumult stun the field beneath:
Black ants in teams come darkening all the road,
Some call to march, and some to lift the load;
They strain, they labour, with incessant pains,
Press'd by the cumbrous weight of single grains.
The Flies, struck silent, gaze with wonder down:
The busy burghers reach their earthy town;
Where lay the burdens of a wintry store,
And thence unwearied part in search of more.
Yet one grave sage a moment's space attends,
And the small city's loftiest point ascends,
Wipes the salt dew that trickles down his face,
And thus harangues them with the gravest grace :
'Ye foolish nurslings of the summer air,
These gentles tunes and whining songs forbear; Your trees and whispering breeze, your grove and love,
Your Cupid's quiver, and his mother's dove;
Let bards to business bend their vigorous wing,
And sing but seldom, if they love to sing :
Else, when the flowerets of the season fail,
And this your ferny shade forsakes the vale,
Though one would save ye, not one grain of wheat
Should pay such songsters idling at my gate.'
He ceased: the Flies, incorrigibly vain,
Heard the mayor's speech, and fell to sing again.
(FROM THE LATIN OF BEZA.)
COME hither, boy! we'll hunt to-day
The Book-worm, ravening beast of prey,
Produced by parent earth, at odds,
As fame reports it, with the gods.
Him frantic hunger wildly drives
Against a thousand authors' lives:
Through all the fields of wit he flies;
Dreadful his head with clustering eyes,
With horns without, and tusks within,
And scales to serve him for a skin.
Observe him nearly, lest he climb
To wound the bards of ancient time;
Or down the vale of fancy go,
To tear some modern wretch below: