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And next to thee shall Myco bear the bell,
Who can repeat thy peerless song so well:
But see! the hills increasing shadows cast;
I ween, is leaving us in haste:
His weakly rays faint glimmer through the wood,
And bluey mists arise from yonder flood.
Bid, then, our dogs to gather in the sheep: [sleep.
Good shepherds, with their flock, betimes should
Who late lies down, thou know'st, as late will rise,
And, sluggard-like, to noon-day snoring lies;
While in the fold his injured ewes complain,
And after dewy pastures bleat in vain.
IN rural strains we first our music try,
And, bashful, into woods and thickets fly,
Mistrusting then our skill; yet if through time
Our voice, improving, gain a pitch sublime,
Thy growing virtues, Sackville, shall engage
My riper verse, and more aspiring age.
The sun, now mounted to the noon of day,
Began to shoot direct his burning ray;
When, with the flocks, their feeders sought the shade
A venerable oak wide-spreading made:
What should they do to pass the loitering time?
As fancy led, each form'd his tale in rhyme:
And some the joys, and some the pains of love,
And some to set out strange adventures, strove;
The trade of wizards some, and Merlin's skill,
And whence, to charms, such empire o'er the will.
Then Cuddy last (who Cuddy can excel
In neat device?) his tale began to tell.
When shepherds flourish'd in Eliza's reign,
There lived in high repute a jolly swain,
Young Colin Clout; who well could pipe and sing,
And by his notes invite the lagging spring.
He, as his custom was, at leisure laid
In woodland bower, without a rival play'd,
Soliciting his pipe to warble clear,
Enchantment sweet as ever wont to hear
Belated wayfarers, from wake or fair
Detain❜d by music, hovering on in air :
Drawn by the magic of the' enticing sound,
What troops of mute admirers flock'd around!
The steerlings left their food; and creatures, wild
By nature form'd, insensibly grew mild.
He makes the gathering birds about him throng,
And loads the neighbouring branches with his song.
There, with the crowd, a nightingale of fame,
Jealous, and fond of praise, to listen came:
She turn'd her ear, and pause by pause, with pride,
Like echo to the shepherd's pipe replied.
The shepherd heard with wonder, and again,
To try her more, renew'd his various strain:
To all the various strain she plies her throat,
And adds peculiar grace to every note.
If Colin, in complaining accent grieve,
Or brisker motion to his measure give,
If gentle sounds he modulate, or strong,
She, not a little vain, repeats the song:
But so repeats, that Colin half-despised
His pipe and skill, around the country prized;
"And sweetest songster of the winged kind,
What thanks, (said he) what praises, shall I find
To equal thy melodious voice? In thee
The rudeness of my rural fife I see;
From thee I learn no more to vaunt my skill."
Aloft in air she sat, provoking still
The vanquish'd swain. Provoked, at last, he strove
To show the little minstrel of the grove
His utmost powers, determined once to try
How art, exerting, might with nature vie;
For vie could none with either in their part,
With her in nature, nor with him in art.
He draws in breath, his rising breath to fill:
Throughout the wood his pipe is heard to shrill.
From note to note, in haste, his fingers fly;
Still more and more the numbers multiply:
And now they trill, and now they fall and rise,
And swift and slow they change with sweet surprise.
Attentive she doth scarce the sounds retain :
But to herself first cons the puzzling strain,
And tracing, heedful, note by note repays
The shepherd in his own harmonious lays,
Through every changing cadence runs at length,
And adds in sweetness what she wants in strength.
Then Colin threw his fife disgraced aside,
While she loud triumph sings, proclaiming wide
Her mighty conquest, and within her throat
Twirls many a wild unimitable note,
To foil her rival. What could Colin more?
A little harp of maple ware he bore:
The little harp was old, but newly strung,
Which, usual, he across his shoulders hung.
"Now take, delightful bird, my last farewell,
(He said) and learn from hence thou dost excel