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ODE TO THE FIRST OF APRIL.
WITH dalliance rude young Zephyr wooes
Coy May. Full oft with kind excuse
The boisterous boy the fair denies,
Or with scornful smile complies.
Mindful of disaster past,
And shrinking at the northern blast,
The sleety storm returning still,
The morning hoar, and evening chill;
Reluctant comes the timid Spring.
Scarce a bee, with airy ring,
Murmurs the blossom'd boughs around,
That clothe the garden's southern bound:
Scarce a sickly straggling flower,
Decks the rough castle's rifted tower:
Scarce the hardy primrose peeps
From the dark dell's entangled steeps;
O'er the fields of waving broom
Slowly shoots the golden bloom :
And, but by fits, the furze-clad dale
Tinctures the transitory gale.
While from the shrubbery's naked maze,
Where the vegetable blaze
Of Flora's brightest 'broidery shone,
Every chequer'd charm is flown;
Save that the lilac hangs to view
Its bursting gems in clusters blue.
Scant along the ridgy land
The beans their new-born ranks expand:
The fresh-turn'd soil with tender blades
Thinly the sprouting barley shades:
Fringing the forest's devious edge,
Half-rob'd appears the hawthorn hedge;
Or to the distant eye displays
Weakly green its budding sprays.
The swallow, for a moment seen,
Skims in haste the village green;
From the grey moor, on feeble wing,
The screaming plovers idly spring:
The butterfly, gay-painted soon,
Explores awhile the tepid noon :
And fondly trusts its tender dyes
To fickle suns, and flattering skies.
Fraught with a transient, frozen shower,
If a cloud should haply lower,
Sailing o'er the landscape dark,
Mute on a sudden is the lark;
But when gleams the Sun again
O'er the pearl-besprinkled plain,
And from behind his watery veil
Looks through the thin descending hail;
She mounts, and, lessening to the sight,
Salutes the blithe return of light,
And high her tuneful track pursues
'Mid the dim rainbow's scatter'd hues.
Where in venerable rows Widely-waving oaks inclose The moat of yonder antique hall, Swarm the rooks with clamorous call; And to the toils of nature true, Wreath their capacious nests anew.
Musing through the lawny park, The lonely poet loves to mark How various greens in faint degrees Tinge the tall groups of various trees; While, careless of the changing year, The pine cerulean, never sere,
Towers distinguish'd from the rest,
And proudly vaunts her winter vest.
Within some whispering osier isle,
Where Glym's* low banks neglected smile;
And each trim meadow still retains
The wintry torrent's oozy stains:
Beneath a willow, long forsook,
The fisher seeks his custom'd nook;
And bursting through the crackling sedge,
That crowns the current's cavern'd edge.
He startles from the bordering wood
The bashful wild-duck's early brood.
O'er the broad downs, a novel race,
Frisk the lambs with faltering pace,
And with eager bleatings fill
The foss that skirts the beacon'd hill.
And swept the wire with glowing hand.
Cyprus, from her rocky mound,
And Crete, with piny verdure crown'd,
Far along the smiling main
Echoed the prophetic strain.
Soon we kiss'd the sacred earth
That gave a murder'd Savior birth;
Then with ardor fresh endu'd,
Thus the solemn song renew'd.
Lo, the toilsome voyage past, Heaven's favor'd hills appear at last! Object of our holy vow, We tread the Tyrian valleys now. From Carmel's almond-shaded steep We feel the cheering fragrance creep: O'er Engaddi's shrubs of balm Waves the date-empurpled palm: See Lebanon's aspiring head Wide his immortal umbrage spread! Hail, Calvary, thou mountain hoar, Wet with our Redeemer's gore! Ye trampled tombs, ye fanes forlorn, Ye stones, by tears of pilgrims worn; Your ravish'd honors to restore, Fearless we climb this hostile shore! And thou, the sepulchre of God; By mocking Pagans rudely trod. Bereft of every awful rite,
And quench'd thy lamps that beam'd so bright; For thee, from Britain's distant coast,
Lo, Richard leads his faithful host!
Aloft in his heroic hand,
Blazing like the beacon's brand,
O'er the far-affrighted fields,
Resistless Kaliburn* he wields.
Proud Saracen, pollute no more
The shrines by martyrs built of yore!
From each wild mountain's trackless crown
In vain thy gloomy castles frown:
Thy battering engines, huge and high,
In vain our steel-clad steeds defy;
And, rolling in terrific state,
On giant-wheels harsh thunders grate.
When eve has hush'd the buzzing camp,
Amid the moonlight vapors damp,
Thy necromantic forms, in vain,
Haunt us on the tented plain:
Kaliburn is the sword of king Arthur; which, as the nonkish historians say, came into the possession of Richard I., and was given by that monarch, in the Crusades, to Tancred king of Sicily, as a royal present of inestimable value, about the year 1190.
We bid the spectre-shapes avaunt,
Ashtaroth, and Termagaunt!†
With many a demon, pale of hue,
Doom'd to drink the bitter dew,
That drops from Macon's sooty tree,
'Mid the dread grove of ebony.
Nor magic charms, nor fiends of Hell,
The Christian's holy courage quell.
Salem, in ancient majesty
Arise, and lift thee to the sky!
Soon on thy battlements divine
Shall wave the badge of Constantine.
Ye barons, to the Sun unfold
Our cross with crimson wove and gold!"
PROGRESS OF DISCONTENT.
WHEN now mature in classic knowledge,
The joyful youth is sent to College,
His father comes, a vicar plain,
At Oxford bred-in Anna's reign,
And thus, in form of humble suitor,
Bowing accosts a reverend tutor :
"Sir, I'm a Glo'stershire divine,
And this my eldest son of nine;
My wife's ambition and my own
Was that this child should wear a gown
I'll warrant that his good behavior
Will justify your future favor;
And, for his parts, to tell the truth,
My son's a very forward youth;
Has Horace all by heart—you'd wonder-
And mouths out Homer's Greek like thunder.
If you'd examine-and admit him,
A scholarship would nicely fit him;
That he succeeds 'tis ten to one;
Your vote and interest, sir!"-"Tis done.
Our pupil's hopes, though twice defeated,
Are with a scholarship completed:
A scholarship but half maintains,
And college-rules are heavy chains:
In garret dark he smokes and puns.
A prey to discipline and duns;
And now, intent on new designs,
Sighs for a fellowship-and fines.
When nine full tedious winters past,
That utmost wish is crown'd at last:
But the rich prize no sooner got,
Again he quarrels with his lot:
"These fellowships are pretty things,
We live indeed like petty kings:
But who can bear to waste his whole age
Amid the dullness of a college,
Debarr'd the common joys of life,
And that prime bliss-a loving wife!
O! what's a table richly spread,
Without a woman at its head?
† Ashtaroth is mentioned by Milton as a general name of the Syrian deities: Par. Lost, i. 422. And Termagaunt is the name given in the old romance to the god of the Saracens. See Percy's Relics, vol. i. p. 74.
The scholars of Trinity are superannuated, if they do not succeed to fellowships in nine years after their election to scholarships.
Would some snug benefice but fall, Ye feasts, ye dinners! farewell all! To offices I'd bid adieu,
Of dean, vice præs.-of bursar too;
Come joys, that rural quiet yields,
Come, tythes, and house, and fruitful fields!"
Too fond of freedom and of ease
A patron's vanity to please,
Long-time he watches, and by stealth,
Each frail incumbent's doubtful health;
At length, and in his fortieth year,
A living drops-two hundred clear!
With breast elate beyond expression,
He hurries down to take possession,
With rapture views the sweet retreat―
"What a convenient house! how neat!
For fuel here's sufficient wood :
Pray God the cellars may be good!
The garden-that must be new-plann'd-
Shall these old-fashion'd yew-trees stand?
O'er yonder vacant plot shall rise
The flow'ry shrub of thousand dyes:-
Yon wall, that feels the southern ray,
Shall blush with ruddy fruitage gay:
While thick ber.eath its aspect warm
O'er well-rang'd hives the bees shall swarm,
From which, ere long, of golden gleam
Metheglin's luscious juice shall stream:
This awkward hut, o'ergrown with ivy,
We'll alter to a modern privy:
Up yon green slope, of hazels trim,
An avenue so cool and dim
Shall to an arbor at the end,
In spite of gout, entice a friend.
My predecessor lov'd devotion-
But of a garden had no notion."
Continuing this fantastic farce on,
He now commences country parson.
To make his character entire,
He weds-a cousin of the 'squire,
Not over-weighty in the purse;
But many doctors have done worse:
And though she boasts no charms divine,
Yet she can carve and make birch-wine.
Thus fixt, content he taps his barrel,
Exhorts his neighbors not to quarrel;
Finds his church-wardens have discerning
Both in good liquor and good learning;
With tythes his barns replete he sees,
And chuckles o'er his surplice fees;
Studies to find out latent dues,
And regulates the state of pews;
Rides a sleek mare with purple housing,
To share the monthly club's carousing;
Of Oxford pranks facetious tells,
And-but on Sundays-hears no bells;
Sends presents of his choicest fruit,
And prunes himself each sapless shoot;
Plants cauliflowers, and boasts to rear
The earliest melons of the year;
Thinks alteration charming work is,
Keeps Bantam cocks, and feeds his turkeys;
Builds in his copse a fav'rite bench,
And stores the pond with carp and tench.-
But ah! too soon his thoughtless breast
By cares domestic is opprest;
And a third butcher's bill, and brewing,
Threaten inevitable ruin:
For children fresh expenses yet, And Dicky now for school is fit.
'Why did I sell my college life,"
He cries, "for benefice and wife?
Return, ye days, when endless pleasure
I found in reading, or in leisure!
When calm around the common room
I puff'd my daily pipe's perfume!
Rode for a stomach, and inspected,
At annual bottlings, corks selected:
And din'd untax'd, untroubled, under
The portrait of our pious founder!
When impositions were supplied
To light my pipe-or soothe my pride-
No cares were then for forward peas,
A yearly-longing wife to please;
My thoughts no christ'ning dinners crost,
No children cried for butter'd toast;
And ev'ry night I went to bed,
Without a modus in my head!"
Oh! trifling head, and fickle heart!
Chagrin'd at whatsoe'er thou art;
A dupe to follies yet untried,
And sick of pleasures, scarce enjoy'd!
Each prize possess'd, thy transport ceases,
And in pursuit alone it pleases.
INSCRIPTION IN A HERMITAGE,
AT ANSLEY HALL, IN WARWICKSHIRE.
BENEATH this stony roof reclin'd,
I soothe to peace my pensive mind;
And while, to shade my lowly cave
Embowering elms their umbrage wave,
And while the maple dish is mine,
The beechen cup, unstain'd with wine
I scorn the gay licentious crowd,
Nor heed the toys that deck the proud.
Within my limits lone and still,
The blackbird pipes in artless trill;
Fast by my couch, congenial guest,
The wren has wove her mossy nest;
From busy scenes, and brighter skies,
To lurk with innocence, she flies:
Here hopes in safe repose to dwell,
Nor aught suspects the sylvan cell
At morn I take my custom'd round,
To mark how buds yon shrubby mound,
And every opening primrose count,
That trimly paints my blooming mount:
Or o'er the sculptures, quaint and rude,
That grace my gloomy solitude,
I teach in winding wreaths to stray
Fantastic ivy's gadding spray.
At eve, within yon studious nook,
I ope my brass-embossed book,
Portray'd with many a holy deed
Of martyrs, crown'd with heavenly meed:
Then as my taper waxes dim,
Chant, ere I sleep, my measur'd hymn;
And at the close, the gleams behold
Of parting wings bedropt with gold.
While such pure joys my bliss create, Who but would smile at guilty state?
Who but would wish his holy lot
In calm Oblivion's humble grot?
Who but would cast his pomp away,
To take my staff, and amice grey;*
And to the world's tumultuous stage
Prefer the blameless hermitage?
WRITTEN IN WHICHWOOD FOREST. THE hinds how blest, who ne'er beguil'd To quit their hamlet's hawthorn wild; Nor haunt the crowd, nor tempt the main, For splendid care, and guilty gain!
When morning's twilight-tinctur'd beam Strikes their low thatch with slanting gleam They rove abroad in ether blue, To dip the scythe in fragrant dew; The sheaf to bind, the beech to fell, That nodding shades a craggy dell.
'Midst gloomy glades, in warbles clear, Wild nature's sweetest notes they hear : On green untrodden banks they view The hyacinth's neglected hue :
In their lone haunts, and woodland rounds,
They spy the squirrel's airy bounds,
And startle from her ashen spray,
Across the glen, the screaming jay:
Each native charm their steps explore
Of Solitude's sequester'd store.
For them the Moon with cloudless ray Mounts, to illume their homeward way: Their weary spirits to relieve,
The meadow's incense breathe at eve.
No riot mars the simple fare,
That o'er a glimmering hearth they share :
But when the curfew's measur'd roar
ON HIS LEAVING A FAVORITE VILLAGE IN
AH mourn, thou lov'd retreat! No more
Shall classic steps thy scenes explore!
When morn's pale rays but faintly peep
O'er yonder oak-crown'd airy steep,
Who now shall climb its brows to view
The length of landscape, ever new,
Where Summer flings, in careless pride,
Her varied vesture far and wide?
Who mark, beneath, each village-charm,
Or grange, or elm-encircled farm:
The flinty dove-cote's crowded roof,
Watch'd by the kite that sails aloof:
The tufted pines, whose umbrage tall
Darkens the long-deserted hall:
The veteran beech, that on the plain
Collects at eve the playful train:
The cot that smokes with early fire,
The low-roof'd fane's embosom'd spire?
Who now shall indolently stray
Through the deep forest's tangled way,
Pleas'd at his custom'd task to find
The well-known hoary-tressed hind,
That toils with feeble hands to glean
Of wither'd boughs his pittance mean?
Who 'mid thy nooks of hazel sit,
Lost in some melancholy fit;
And listening to the raven's croak,
The distant flail, the falling oak?
Who, through the sun-shine and the shower,
Descry the rainbow-painted tower?
Who, wandering at return of May,
Catch the first cuckoo's vernal lay?
Who musing waste the summer hour,
Where high o'er-arching trees embower
The grassy lane, so rarely pac'd,
With azure flow'rets idly grac'd?
Unnotic'd now, at twilight's dawn
Returning reapers cross the lawn;
Nor fond attention loves to note
The wether's bell from folds remote:
While, own'd by no poetic eye,
Thy pensive evenings shade the sky!
For lo! the Bard who rapture found
In every rural sight or sound;
Whose genius warm, and judgment chaste
No charm of genuine nature pass'd;
Who felt the Muse's purest fires,
Far from thy favor'd haunt retires;
Who peopled all thy vocal bowers
With shadowy shapes, and airy powers.
Behold, a dread repose resumes,
As erst, thy sad sequester'd glooms!
From the deep dell, where shaggy roots
Fringe the rough brink with wreathed shoots
Th' unwilling genius flies forlorn,
His primrose chaplet rudely torn.
With hollow shriek the nymphs forsake
The pathless copse and hedge-row brake:
Where the delv'd mountains headlong side
Its chalky entrails opens wide,
On the green summit, ambush'd high,
No longer Echo loves to lie.
No pearl-crown'd maids with wily look, Rise beckoning from the reedy brook
Around the glow-worm's glimmering bank,
No Fairies run in fiery rank;
Nor brush, half-seen, in airy tread,
The violet's unprinted head.
But Fancy, from the thickets brown,
The glades that wear a conscious frown,
The forest oaks, that, pale and lone,
Nod to the blast with hoarser tone,
Rough glens, and sullen water-falls,
Her bright ideal offspring calls.
So by some sage enchanter's spell,
(As old Arabian fablers tell,)
Amid the solitary wild,
Luxuriant gardens gaily smil'd :
From sapphire rocks the fountains stream'd,
With golden fruit the branches beam'd;
Fair forms, in every wondrous wood,
Or lightly tripp'd, or solemn stood;
And oft, retreating from the view,
Betray'd, at distance, beauties new:
While gleaming o'er the crisped bowers
Rich spires arose, and sparkling towers.
If bound on service new to go,
The master of the magic show
His transitory charm withdrew,
Away th' illusive landscape flew :
Dun clouds obscur'd the groves of gold,
Blue lightning smote the blooming mould:
In visionary glory rear'd,
The gorgeous castle disappear'd; And a bare heath's unfruitful plain Usurp'd the wizard's proud domain.
PLEASURES OF MELANCHOLY. Præcipe lugubres Cantus, Melpomene !—
Beneath yon ruin'd abbey's moss-grown piles
Oft let me sit, at twilight hour of eve,
Where through some western window the pale Moon
Pours her long-level'd rule of streaming light;
While sullen sacred silence reigns around.
Save the lone screech-owl's note, who builds his bow'
Amid the mould'ring caverns dark and damp,
Or the calm breeze that rustles in the leaves
Of flaunting ivy, that with mantle green
Invests some wasted tow'r. Or let me tread
Its neighb'ring walk of pines, where mus'd of old
The cloister'd brothers: through the gloomy void
That far extends beneath their ample arch
As on I pace, religious horror wraps
My soul in dread repose. But when the world
Is clad in Midnight's raven-color'd robe,
'Mid hollow charnel let me watch the flame
Of taper dim, shedding a livid glare
O'er the wan heaps; while airy voices talk
Along the glimm'ring walls; or ghostly shape,
At distance seen, invites with beck'ning hand
My lonesome steps, through the far-winding vaults
Nor undelightful is the solemn noon
Of night, when haply wakeful from my couch
I start: lo! all is motionless around!
Roars not the rushing wind; the sons of men
And every beast, in mute oblivion lie;
All nature's hush'd in silence and in sleep
O then how fearful is it to reflect,
MOTHER of musings, Contemplation sage,
Whose grotto stands upon the topmost rock
Of Teneriffe; 'mid the tempestuous night,
On which, in calmest meditation held,
Thou hear'st with howling winds the beating rain
And drifting hail descend; or if the skies
Unclouded shine, and through the blue serene
Pale Cynthia roiis her silver-axled car,
Whence gazing stedfast on the spangled vault
Raptur'd thou sitt'st, while murmurs indistinct
Of distant billows soothe thy pensive ear
With hoarse and hollow sounds; secure, self-blest,
There oft thou listen'st to the wild uproar
Of fleets encount'ring, that in whispers low
Ascend the rocky summit, where thou dwell'st
Remote from man conversing with the spheres!
O lead me, queen sublime, to solemn glooms
Congenial with my soul; to cheerless shades,
To ruin'd seats, to twilight cells and bow'rs,
Where thoughtful Melancholy loves to muse,
Her fav'rite midnight haunts. The laughing scenes
Of purple Spring, where all the wanton train
Of Smiles and Graces seem to lead the dance
In sportive round, while from their hand they show'r
Ambrosial blooms and flow'rs, no longer charm;
Tempé, no more I court thy balmy breeze,
Adieu, green vales! ye broider'd meads, adieu!
That through the still globe's awful solitude,
No being wakes but me! till stealing sleep
My drooping temples bathes in opiate dews.
Nor then let dreams, of wanton folly born,
My senses lead through flow'ry paths of joy;
But let the sacred genius of the night
Such mystic visions send, as Spenser saw,
When through bewild'ring Fancy's magic maze,
To the fell house of Busyrane, he led
Th' unshaken Britomart; or Milton knew,
When in abstracted thought he first conceiv'd
All Heav'n in tumult, and the seraphim
Come tow'ring, arm'd in adamant and gold.
Let others love soft Summer's evening smiles,
As list'ning to the distant water-fall,
They mark the blushes of the streaky west,
I choose the pale December's foggy glooms
Then, when the sullen shades of ev'ning close,
Where through the room a blindly glimm'ring gleam
The dying embers scatter, far remote
From Mirth's mad shouts, that through th'illumin'd
Resound with festive echo, let me sit,
Blest with the lowly cricket's drowsy dirge.
Then let my thought contemplative explore
This fleeting state of things, the vain delights,
The fruitless toils, that still our search elude,
As through the wilderness of life we rove.
This sober hour of silence will unmask
False Folly's smile, that like the dazzling spells
Of wily Comus cheat the unweeting eye
With blear illusion, and persuade to drink
That charmed cup, which Reason's mintage fair
Unmoulds, and stamps the monster on the man.
Eager we taste, but in the luscious draught
Forget the poisonous dregs that lurk beneath
Few know that elegance of soul refin'd,
Whose soft sensation feels a quicker joy
From Melancholy's scenes, than the dull pride
Of tasteless splendor and magnificence
Can e'er afford. Thus Eloise, whose mind
Had languish'd to the pangs of melting love