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No trivial artist!' and anon he wound
The murmuring strings, and order'd every sound; Then earnest to his instrument he bends,
And both hands pliant on the strings extends;
His touch the strings obey, and various move,
The lower answering still to those above:
His fingers, restless, traverse to and fro,
As in pursuit of harmony they go:
Now, lightly skimming, o'er the strings they pass,
Like winds which gently brush the plying grass,
While melting airs arise at their command:
And now, laborious, with a weighty hand
He sinks into the cords with solemn pace,
To give the swelling tones a bolder grace;
And now the left, and now by turns the right,
Each other chase, harmonious both in flight:
Then his whole fingers blend a swarm of sounds,
Till the sweet tumult through the harp rebounds.
Cease, Colin, cease, thy rival cease to vex;
The mingling notes, alas! her ear perplex:
She warbles, diffident, in hope and fear,
And hits imperfect accents here and there,
And fain would utter forth some double tone,
When soon she falters, and can utter none:
Again she tries, and yet again she fails;
For still the harp's united power prevails :
Then Colin play'd again, and playing sung:
She, with the fatal love of glory stung,
Hears all in pain: her heart begins to swell:
In piteous notes she sighs, in notes which tell
Her bitter anguish: he still singing plies
His limber joints: her sorrows higher rise.
How shall she bear a conqueror, who, before,
No equal through the grove in music bore?
She droops, she hangs her flagging wings, she
And fetcheth from her breast melodious groans.
Oppress'd with grief at last too great to quell,
Down, breathless, on the guilty harp she fell.
Then Colin loud lamented o'er the dead,
•And unavailing tears profusely shed,
And broke his wicked strings, and cursed his skill;
And best to make atonement for the ill,
If, for such ill, atonement might be made,
He builds her tomb beneath a laurel shade
Then adds a verse, and sets with flowers the ground,
And makes a fence of winding osiers round.
"A verse and tomb is all I now can give;
And here thy name, at least, (he said) shall live"."
Thus ended Cuddy with the setting sun,
And, by his tale, unenvied praises won.
GERON, HOBBINOL, LANQUET.
How still the sea, behold! how calm the sky!
And how, in sportive chase, the swallows fly!
My goats, secure from harm, small tendance need,
While high on yonder hanging rock they feed:
And here below, the banky shore along,
Your heifers graze. Now, then, to strive in song
Prepare. As eldest, Hobbinol begin ;
And Lanquet's rival verse, by turns, come in.
Let others stake what chosen pledge they will, Or kid, or lamb, or mazer wrought with skill: For praise we sing, nor wager aught beside; And, whose the praise, let Geron's lips decide.
To Geron I my voice and skill commend,
A candid umpire, and to both a friend.
Begin then, boys; and vary well your song:
Begin; nor fear, from Geron's sentence, wrong.
A boxen hautboy, loud, and sweet of sound,
All varnish'd, and with brazen ringlets bound,
I to the victor give: no mean reward,
If to the ruder village-pipes compared.
The snows are melted; and the kindly rain
Descends on every herb, and every grain :
Soft balmy breezes breathe along the sky;
The bloomy season of the year is nigh.
The cuckoo calls aloud his wandering love;
The turtle's moan is heard in every grove;
The pastures change; the warbling linnets sing:
Prepare to welcome in the gaudy spring.
When locusts in the ferny bushes cry,
When ravens pant, and snakes in caverns lie,
Graze then in woods, and quit the shadeless plain,
Else shall ye press the spungy teat in vain.
When greens to yellow vary, and ye see
The ground bestrew'd with fruits of every tree,
And stormy winds are heard, think winter near,
Nor trust too far to the declining year.
Woe then, alack! befal the spendthrift swain, When frost, and snow, and hail, and sleet, and rain, By turns chastise him; while, through little care, His sheep, unshelter'd, pine in nipping air,
The lad of forecast then untroubled sees
The white, bleak plains, and silvery frosted trees;
He fends his flock, and, clad in homely frize,
In his warm cot the wintry blast defies.
Full fain, O bless'd Eliza! would I praise
Thy maiden-rule, and Albion's golden days:
Then gentle Sidney lived, the shepherd's friend:
Eternal blessings on his shade attend!
Thrice happy shepherds now! for Dorset loves The country Muse, and our resounding groves, While Anna reigns: O, ever may she reign! And bring, on earth, the golden age again.
I love, in secret all, a beauteous maid,
And have my love, in secret all, repaid ;
This coming night she plights her troth to me :
Divine her name, and thou the victor be.
Mild as the lamb, unharmful as the dove,
True as the turtle, is the maid I love:
How we in secret love, I shall not say:
Divine her name, and I give up the day.
Soft on a cowslip-bank my love and I
Together lay; a brook ran murmuring by:
A thousand tender things to me she said;
And I a thousand tender things repaid.
In summer shade, behind the cocking hay,, What kind endearing words did she not say! Her lap, with apron deck'd, she fondly spread, And stroked my cheek, and lull'd my leaning head.
Breathe soft, ye winds; ye waters, gently flow;
Shield her, ye trees; ye flowers, around her grow:
Ye swains, I beg you, pass in silence by;
My love, in yonder vale, asleep does lie.
Once Delia slept on easy moss reclined,
Her lovely limbs half bare, and rude the wind:
I smooth'd her coats, and stole a silent kiss:
Condemn me, shepherds, if I did amiss.
As Marian bathed, by chance I passed by ;
She blush'd, and at me glanced a sidelong eye:
Then, cowering in the treacherous stream, she tried
Her tempting form, yet still in vain, to hide.