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[The Seasons:] SPRING.

2 And from the bosom of yon dropping cloud,
3 While music wakes around, veil'd in a shower
4 Of shadowing roses, on our plains descend.
5 O HERTFORD, fitted, or to shine in courts,
6 With unaffected grace; or walk the plain,
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8 In soft assemblage, listen to my song,
9 That thy own Season paints; when NATURE all
10 Is blooming, and benevolent like thee.
11 AND see where surly WINTER passes off,
12 Far to the north, and calls his ruffian blasts;
13 His blasts obey, and quit the howling hill,
14 The shatter'd forest, and the ravag'd vale:
15 While softer gales succeed, at whose kind touch,
16 Dissolving snows in livid torrents lost,
17 The mountains lift their green heads to the sky.
18 As yet the trembling year is unconfirm'd,
19 And WINTER oft at eve resumes the breeze,
20 Chills the pale morn, and bids his driving sleets
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21 Deform the day delightless; so that scarce
22 The Bittern knows the time, with bill ingulpht
23 To shake the sounding marsh; or from the shore
24 The Plovers theirs, to scatter o'er the heath,
25 And sing their wild notes to the listening waste.
26 AT last from ARIES rolls the bounteous sun,
27 And the bright BULL receives him. Then no more
28 Th' expansive atmosphere is cramp'd with cold,
29 But full of life, and vivifying soul,
30 Lifts the light clouds sublime, and spreads them thin,
31 Fleecy, and white, o'er all-surrounding heaven.
32 FORTH fly the tepid airs; and unconfin'd
33 Unbinding earth, the moving softness strays.
34 Joyous th' impatient husbandman perceives
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35 Relenting nature, and his lusty steers,
36 Drives from their stalls, to where the well-us'd plow
37 Lies in the furrow loosen'd from the frost.
38 There, unrefusing to the harness'd yoke,
39 They lend their shoulder, and begin their toil,
40 Chear'd by the simple song, and soaring lark.
41 Meanwhile incumbent o'er the shining share
42 The master leans, removes th' obstructing clay,
43 Winds the whole work, and sidelong lays the glebe.
44 WHITE thro' the neighbouring fields the sower stalks
45 With measur'd step, and liberal throws the grain
46 Into the faithful bosom of the Ground.
47 The harrow follows harsh, and shuts the scene.
48 BE gracious, HEAVEN! for now laborious man
49 Has done his due. Ye fostering breezes, blow!
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50 Ye softening dews, ye tender showers, descend!
51 And temper all, thou world-reviving sun,
52 Into the perfect year! Nor, ye who live
53 In luxury and ease, in pomp and pride,
54 Think these lost themes unworthy of your ear.
55 'Twas such as these the rural MARO sung,
56 To the full ROMAN court, in all its height
57 Of elegance and taste. The sacred plow
58 Employ'd the kings and fathers of mankind,
59 In antient times. And some, with whom compar'd
60 You're but the beings of a summer's day,
61 Have held the scale of justice, shook the lance
62 Of mighty war, then with descending hand,
63 Unus'd to little delicacies, seiz'd
64 The plow, and greatly independant liv'd.
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65 YE generous BRITONS, cultivate the plow!
66 And o'er your hills, and long withdrawing vales,
67 Let AUTUMN spread his treasures to the sun,
68 Luxuriant, and unbounded. As the sea,
69 Far thro' his azure, turbulent extent,
70 Your empire owns, and from a thousand shores
71 Wafts all the pomp of life into your ports;
72 So with superior boon may your rich soil,
73 Exuberant, nature's better blessings pour
74 O'er every land, the naked nations cloath,
75 And be th' exhaustless granary of a world.
76 NOR thro' the lenient air alone, this change
77 Delicious breathes; the penetrative sun,
78 His force deep darting to the dark retreat
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79 Of vegetation, sets the steaming power
80 At large, to wander o'er the verdant earth,
81 In various hues, but chiefly thee, gay GREEN!
82 Thou smiling NATURE's universal robe!
83 United light and shade! where the sight dwells
84 With growing strength, and ever-new delight!
85 FROM the moist meadow to the brown-brow'd hill,
86 Led by the breeze, the vivid verdure runs,
87 And swells, and deepens to the cherish'd eye.
88 The hawthorn whitens; and the juicy groves
89 Put forth their buds, unfolding by degrees,
90 Till the whole leafy forest stands display'd,
91 In full luxuriance, to the sighing gales;
92 While the deer rustle thro' the twining brake,
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93 And the birds sing conceal'd. At once array'd
94 In all the colours of the flushing year,
95 By NATURE's swift and secret-working hand,
96 The garden glows, and fills the liberal air
97 With lavish fragrance; while the promis'd fruit
98 Lies yet a little embryo, unperceiv'd,
99 Within its crimson folds. Now from the town
100 Buried in smoke, and sleep, and noisom damps,
101 Oft let me wander o'er the dewy fields,
102 Where freshness breathes, and dash the lucid drops
103 From the bent bush, as thro' the fuming maze
104 Of sweet-briar hedges I pursue my walk;
105 Or taste the smell of dairy; or ascend
106 Some eminence, AUGUSTA, in thy plains,
107 And see the country far diffus'd around
108 One boundless blush, one white empurpled shower
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109 Of mingled blossoms; where the raptur'd eye
110 Travels from joy to joy, and hid beneath
111 The fair profusion, yellow AUTUMN spies.
112 IF brush'd from RUSSIAN wilds a cutting gale
113 Rise not, and scatter from his foggy wings
114 The bitter mildew, or dry-blowing breathe
115 Untimely frost; before whose baleful blast,
116 The full-blown SPRING thro' all her foliage shrinks,
117 Into a smutty, wide-dejected waste.
118 For oft engender'd by the hazy north,
119 Myriads on Myriads, insect armies waft
120 Keen in the poison'd breeze; and wasteful eat
121 Thro' buds, and bark, into the blacken'd Core,
122 Their eager way. A feeble race! scarce seen,
123 Save by the prying eye? yet famine waits
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124 On their corrosive course, and kills the year.
125 Sometimes o'er cities as they steer their flight,
126 Where rising vapour melts their wings away,
127 Gaz'd by th' astonish'd crowd, the horrid shower
128 Descends. And hence the skilful farmer chaff.
129 And blazing straw before his orchard burns;
130 Till, all involv'd in smoke, the latent foe
131 From every cranny suffocated falls;
132 Or onions, steaming hot, beneath his trees
133 Exposes, fatal to the frosty tribe:
134 Nor, from their friendly task, the busy bill
135 Of little trooping birds instinctive scares.
136 THESE are not idle philosophick dreams,
137 Full NATURE swarms with life. Th' unfaithful fen
138 In putrid steams emits the livid cloud
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139 Of Pestilence. Thro' subterranean Cells,
140 Where searching sun-beams never found a way,
141 Earth animated heaves. The flowery leaf
142 Wants not its soft inhabitants. The stone,
143 Hard as it is, in every winding pore
144 Holds multitudes. But chief the forest-boughs,
145 Which dance unnumber'd to th' inspiring breeze,
146 The downy orchard, and the melting pulp
147 Of mellow fruit the nameless nations feed
148 Of evanescent Insects. Where the pool
149 Stands mantled o'er with green, invisible,
150 Amid the floating verdure millions stray.
151 Each liquid too, whether of acid taste,
152 Potent, or mild, with various forms abounds.
153 Nor is the lucid stream, nor the pure air,
154 Tho' one transparent vacancy they seem,
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155 Devoid of theirs. Even animals subsist
156 On animals, in infinite descent;
157 And all so fine adjusted, that the loss
158 Of the least species would disturb the whole.
159 Stranger than this th' inspective glass confirms
160 And to the curious gives th' amazing scenes
161 Of lessening life; by WISDOM kindly hid
162 From eye, and ear of man: for if at once
163 The worlds in worlds enclos'd were push'd to light,
164 Seen by his sharpen'd eye, and by his ear
165 Intensely bended heard, from the choice cate,
166 The freshest viands, and the brightest wines,
167 He'd turn abhorrent, and in dead of night,
168 When silence sleeps o'er all, be stun'd with noise.
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169 THE North-east spends his rage, and now shut up
170 Within his iron caves, th' effusive South
171 Warms the wide air, and o'er the void of heaven
172 Breaths the big clouds with vernal showers distent.
173 At first a dusky wreath they seem to rise,
174 Scarce staining aether; but by fast degrees,
175 In heaps on heaps, the doubling vapour sails
176 Along the loaded sky, and mingling thick
177 Sits on th' horizon round a settled gloom.
178 Not such as wintry storms on mortals shed,
179 Oppressing life, but lovely, gentle, kind,
180 And full of every hope, and every joy,
181 The wish of nature. Gradual sinks the breeze
182 Into a perfect calm; that not a breath
183 Is heard to quiver thro' the closing woods,
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184 Or rustling turn the many-twinkling leaves
185 Of aspin tall. Th' uncurling floods, diffus'd
186 In glassy breadth, seem thro' delusive lapse
187 Forgetful of their course. 'Tis silence all,
188 And pleasing expectation. Herds and flocks
189 Drop the dry sprig, and mute-imploring eye
190 The falling verdure. Hush'd in short suspense,
191 The plumy people streak their wings with oil,
192 And wait th' approaching sign to strike at once
193 Into the general choir. Even mountains, vales,
194 And forests seem, expansive, to demand
195 The promis'd sweetness. Man superior walks
196 Amid the glad creation, musing praise,
197 And looking lively gratitude. At last
198 The clouds consign their treasures to the fields,
199 And, softly shaking on the dimply pool
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200 Prelusive drops, let all their moisture flow,
201 In large effusion o'er the freshen'd world,
202 'Tis scarce to patter heard, the stealing shower,
203 By such as wander thro' the forest-walks,
204 Beneath th' umbrageous multitude of leaves.
205 But who can hold the shade, while HEAVEN descends
206 In universal bounty, shedding herbs,
207 And fruits, and flowers, on NATURE's ample lap?
208 Imagination fir'd prevents their growth,
209 And while the verdant nutriment distills,
210 Beholds the kindling country colour round.
211 THUS all day long the full-distended clouds
212 Indulge their genial stores, and well-shower'd earth
213 Is deep enrich'd with vegetable life;
214 Till, in the western-sky, the downward sun
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215 Looks out illustrious from amidst the flush
216 Of broken clouds, gay-shifting to his beam.
217 The rapid radiance instantaneous strikes
218 Th' illumin'd mountain thro' the forest streams,
219 Shakes on the floods, and in a yellow mist,
220 Far smoaking o'er th' interminable plain,
221 In twinkling myriads lights the dewy gems.
222 Moist, bright, and green, the landskip laughs around.
223 Full swell the woods; their every musick wakes,
224 Mix'd in wild consort with the warbling brooks
225 Increas'd, th'unnumber'd bleatings of the hills,
226 The hollow lows responsive from the vales,
227 Whence blending all the sweeten'd zephyr springs.
228 Mean time refracted from yon eastern cloud,
229 Bestriding earth, the grand aethereal bow
230 Shoots up immense! and every hue unfolds,
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231 In fair proportion running from the red,
232 To where the violet fades into the sky.
233 Here, mighty NEWTON, the dissolving clouds
234 Are, as they scatter round, thy numerous prism,
235 Untwisting to the philosophic eye
236 The various twine of light, by thee pursu'd
237 Thro' the white mingling maze. Not so the swain,
238 He wondering views the bright enchantment bend,
239 Delightful, o'er the radiant fields, and runs
240 To catch the falling glory; but amaz'd
241 Beholds th' amusive arch before him fly,
242 Then vanish quite away. Still night succeeds,
243 A soften'd shade, and saturated earth
244 Awaits the morning beam, to give again,
245 Transmuted soon by Nature's chymistry,
246 The blooming blessings of the former day.
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247 THEN spring the living herbs, profusely wild,
248 O'er all the deep-green earth, beyond the power
249 Of BOTANIST to number up their tribes;
250 Whether he steals along the lonely dale
251 In silent search; or thro' the forest, rank
252 With what the dull incurious weeds account,
253 Bursts his blind way; or climbs the mountain rock,
254 Fir'd by the nodding verdure of its brow.
255 With such a liberal hand has NATURE flung
256 Their seeds abroad, blown them about in winds,
257 Innumerous mix'd them with the nursing mold,
258 The moistening current, and prolific rain.
259 BUT who their virtues can declare? Who pierce
260 With vision pure into these secret stores
261 Of life, and health, and joy? The food of man
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262 While yet he liv'd in innocence, and told
263 A length of golden years, unflesh'd in blood,
264 A stranger to the savage arts of life,
265 Death, rapine, carnage, surfeit, and disease,
266 The lord, and not the tyrant of the world.
267 THEN the glad morning wak'd the gladden'd race
268 Of uncorrupted men, nor blush'd to see
269 The sluggard sleep beneath her sacred beam.
270 For their light slumbers gently fum'd away,
271 And up they rose as vigorous as the sun,
272 Or to the culture of the willing glebe,
273 Or to the chearful tendance of the flock.
274 Mean time the song went round; and dance, and sport,
275 Wisdom; and friendly talk successive stole
276 Their hours away. While in the rosy vale
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277 Love breath'd his infant sighs, from anguish free,
278 Replete with bliss, and only wept for joy.
279 Nor yet injurious act, nor surly deed
280 Was known among these happy sons of heaven;
281 For reason and benevolence were law.
282 Harmonious nature too look'd smiling on.
283 Clean shone the skies, cool'd with eternal gales,
284 And balmy spirit all. The youthful sun
285 Shot his best rays; and still the gracious clouds
286 Drop'd fatness down; as o'er the swelling mead
287 The herds and flocks commixing play'd secure.
288 Which when, emergent from the gloomy wood,
289 The glaring lion saw, his horrid heart
290 Was meeken'd, and he join'd his sullen joy.
291 For musick held the whole in perfect peace:
292 Soft sigh'd the flute; the tender voice was heard,
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293 Warbling the joyous heart; the woodlands round
294 Apply'd their quire; and winds and waters flow'd
295 In consonance. Such were these prime of days.
296 THIS to the POETS gave the golden age;
297 When, as they sung in elevated phrase,
298 The sailor-pine had not the nations yet
299 In commerce mix'd; for every country teem'd
300 With every thing. Spontaneous harvests wav'd,
301 Still in a sea of yellow plenty round.
302 The forest was the vineyard, where untaught
303 To climb, unprun'd and wild, the juicy grape
304 Burst into floods of wine. The knotted oak
305 Shook from his boughs the long transparent streams
306 Of honey, creeping thro' the matted grass,
307 Th' uncultivated thorn a ruddy shower
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308 Of fruitage shed, on such as sat below,
309 In blooming ease, and from brown labour free,
310 Save what the copious gathering, grateful gave.
311 The Rivers foam'd with nectar; or diffuse,
312 Silent, and soft, the milky maze devolv'd.
313 Nor had the spongy, full-expanded fleece,
314 Yet drunk the TYRIAN dye. The stately ram
315 Shone thro' the mead, in native purple clad,
316 Or milder saffron; and the dancing lamb
317 The vivid crimson to the sun disclos'd.
318 Nothing had power to hurt the savage soul,
319 Yet untransfus'd into the tyger's heart,
320 Burn'd not his bowels, nor his gamesome paw
321 Drove on the fleecy partners of his play:
322 While from the flowery brake the serpent roll'd
323 His fairer spires, and play'd his pointless tongue.
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324 BUT now whate'er these gaudy fables meant,
325 And the white minutes which they shadow'd out,
326 Are found no more amid those iron times,
327 Those dregs of life! in which the human mind
328 Has lost that harmony ineffable,
329 Which warms the soul of happiness; and all
330 Is off the poise within; the passions all
331 Have burst their bounds; and reason half extinct,
332 Or impotent, or else approving, sees
333 The foul disorder. Anger storms at large,
334 Without an equal cause; and fell revenge
335 Supports the falling rage. Close envy bites
336 With venom'd tooth; while weak, unmanly fear,
337 Full of frail fancies, loosens every power.
338 Even love itself is bitterness of soul,
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339 A pleasing anguish pining at the heart.
340 Hope sickens with extravagance; and grief,
341 Of life impatient, into madness swells;
342 Or in dead silence wastes the weeping hours.
343 These, and a thousand mix'd emotions more,
344 From ever-changing views of good and ill,
345 Form'd infinitely various, vex the mind
346 With endless storm. Whence, inly-rankling, grows
347 The selfish thought, a listless inconcern,
348 Cold, and averting from our neighbour's good;
349 Then dark disgust, and malice, winding wiles,
350 Sneaking deceit, and coward villany:
351 At last deep-rooted hatred, lewd reproach,
352 Convulsive wrath, and thoughtless fury, quick
353 To deeds of vilest aim. Even nature's self
354 Is deem'd, vindictive, to have chang'd her course.
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355 HENCE in old time, they say, a deluge came;
356 When the disparting orb of earth, that arch'd
357 Th' imprison'd deep around, impetuous rush'd,
358 With ruin inconceivable, at once
359 Into the gulph, and o'er the highest hills
360 Wide-dash'd the waves, in undulation vast:
361 'Till, from the centre to the streaming clouds,
362 A shoreless ocean tumbled round the globe.
363 THE SEASONS since, as hoar TRADITION tells,
364 Have kept their constant chase; the WINTER keen
365 Pour'd out his waste of snows; and SUMMER shot
366 His pestilential heats; great SPRING before
367 Green'd all the year; and fruits and blossoms blush'd
368 In social sweetness on the self-same bough.
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369 Clear was the temperate air; an even calm
370 Perpetual reign'd, save what the zephyrs bland
371 Breath'd o'er the blue expanse; for then nor storms
372 Were taught to blow, nor hurricanes to rage;
373 Sound slept the waters: no sulphureous glooms
374 Swell'd in the sky, and sent the lightning forth:
375 While sickly damps, and cold autumnal fogs,
376 Sat not pernicious on the springs of life.
377 But now, from clear to cloudy, moist to dry,
378 And hot to cold, in restless change revolv'd,
379 Our drooping days are dwindled down to nought,
380 The fleeting shadow of a winter's sun.
381 AND yet the wholesome herb neglected dies
382 In lone obscurity, unpriz'd for food;
383 Altho' the pure, exhilerating soul
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384 Of nutriment, and health, salubrious breathes,
385 By HEAVEN infus'd, along its secret tubes.
386 For, with hot ravine fir'd, ensanguin'd man
387 Is now become the lion of the plain,
388 And worse. The wolf, who from the nightly fold
389 Fierce-drags the bleating prey, ne'er drunk her milk,
390 Nor wore her warming fleece: nor has the steer,
391 At whose strong chest the deadly tyger hangs,
392 E'er plow'd for him. They too are temper'd high,
393 With hunger stung, and wild necessity,
394 Nor lodges pity in their shaggy breasts.
395 But MAN, whom NATURE form'd of milder clay,
396 With every kind emotion in his heart,
397 And taught alone to weep; while from her lap
398 She pours ten thousand delicacies, herbs,
399 And fruits, as numerous as the drops of rain,
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400 And beams that gave them birth: shall he, fair form!
401 Who wears sweet smiles, and looks erect on heaven,
402 E'er stoop to mingle with the prowling herd,
403 And dip his tongue in blood? The beast of prey,
404 'Tis true, deserves the fate in which he deals.
405 Him, from the thicket, let the hardy youth
406 Provoke, and foaming thro' the awakened woods
407 With every nerve pursue. But you, ye flocks,
408 What have ye done? Ye peaceful people, what,
409 To merit death? You, who have given us milk
410 In luscious streams, and lent us your own coat
411 Against the winter's cold? Whose usefulness
412 In living only lies? And the plain ox,
413 That harmless, honest, guileless animal,
414 In what has he offended? He, whose toil,
415 Patient and ever-ready; clothes the land
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416 With all the pomp of harvest; shall he bleed,
417 And wrestling groan beneath the cruel hands
418 Even of the clowns he feeds? And that perhaps
419 To swell the riot of the gathering feast,
420 Won by his labour? Thus the feeling heart
421 Would tenderly suggest: but 'tis enough,
422 In this late age, adventurous to have touch'd,
423 Light on the numbers of the SAMIAN sage.
424 High HEAVEN beside forbids the daring strain,
425 Whose wisest will has fix'd us in a state,
426 That must not yet to pure perfection rise.
427 BUT yonder breathing prospect bids the muse
428 Throw all her beauty forth, that daubing all
429 Will be to what I gaze; for who can paint
430 Like NATURE? Can IMAGINATION boast,
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431 Amid his gay creation, hues like hers?
432 And can he mix them with that matchless skill,
433 And lay them on so delicately fine,
434 And lose them in each other, as appears
435 In every bud that blows? If fancy then
436 Unequal fails beneath the lovely task;
437 Ah what shall language do? Ah where find words
438 Ting'd with so many colours? And whose power
439 To life approaching, may perfume my lays
440 With that fine oil, these aromatic gales,
441 Which inexhaustive flow continual round?
442 YET, tho' successless, will the toil delight.
443 Come then, ye virgins, and ye youths, whose hearts
444 Have felt the raptures of refining love;
445 Oh come, and while the rosy-footed MAY
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446 Steals blushing on, together let us walk
447 The morning dews, and gather in their prime
448 Fresh-blooming flowers, to deck the braided hair,
449 And the white bosom that improves their sweets.
450 SEE, where the winding vale her lavish stores,
451 Irriguous, spreads. See, how the lilly drinks
452 The latent rill, scarce oozing thro' the grass
453 Of growth luxuriant; or the humid bank
454 Profusely climbs. Turgent, in every pore
455 The gummy moisture shines; new lustre lends,
456 And feeds the spirit that diffusive round
457 Refreshes ail the dale. Long let us walk,
458 Where the breeze blows from yon extended field
459 Of blossom'd beans: ARABIA cannot boast
460 A fuller gale of joy than, liberal, thence
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461 Breathes thro' the sense, and takes the ravish'd soul.
462 Nor is the meadow worthless of our foot,
463 Full of fresh verdure, and unnumber'd flowers,
464 The negligence of NATURE, wide, and wild;
465 Where undisguis'd by mimic ART, she spreads
466 Unbounded beauty to the boundless eye.
467 'Tis here that their delicious task the bees,
468 In swarming millions, tend. Around, athwart,
469 This way, and that, the busy nations fly,
470 Cling to the bud, and with inserted tube,
471 Its soul, its sweetness, and its manna suck.
472 The little chymist thus, all-moving HEAVEN
473 Has taught: and oft, of bolder wing, he dares
474 The purple heath, or where the wild-thyme grows,
475 And yellow loads him with the luscious spoil.
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476 AT length the finish'd garden to the view
477 Its vistas opens, and its alleys green.
478 Snatch'd thro' the verdant maze, the hurried eye
479 Distracted wanders; now the bowery walk
480 Of covert close, where scarce a speck of day
481 Falls on the lengthen'd gloom, protracted darts;
482 Now meets the bending sky, the river now
483 Dimpling along, the breezy-ruffled lake,
484 The forest running round, the rising spire,
485 Th' aethereal mountain, and the distant main.
486 But why so far excursive? when at hand,
487 Along the blushing borders, dewy-bright,
488 And in yon mingled wilderness of flowers,
489 Fair-handed SPRING unbosoms every grace;
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490 Throws out the snow-drop, and the crocus first,
491 The daily, primrose, violet darkly blue,
492 Dew-bending cowslips, and of nameless dyes
493 Anemonies, auriculas a tribe
494 Peculiar powder'd with a shining sand,
495 Renunculas, and iris many-hued.
496 Then comes the tulip-race, where beauty plays
497 Her gayest freaks: from family diffus'd
498 To family, as flies the father-dust,
499 The varied colours run; and while they BREAK
500 On the charm'd FLORIST's eye, he curious stands,
501 And new-flush'd glories all ecstatic marks.
502 Nor hyacinths are wanting, nor junquils
503 Of potent fragrance, nor narcissus white,
504 Nor stripe'd carnations, nor enamell'd pinks,
505 And shower'd from every bush the damask-rose.
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506 Infinite numbers, delicacies, smells,
507 With hues on hues expression cannot paint,
508 The breath of NATURE, and her endless bloom.
510 Of heaven and earth! ESSENTIAL PRESENCE, hail!
511 To THEE I bend the knee; to THEE my thoughts
512 Continual climb; who, with a master-hand,
513 Hast the great whole into perfection touch'd.
514 By THEE, the various vegetative tribes,
515 Wrapt in a filmy net, and clad with leaves,
516 Draw the live aether, and imbibe the dew.
517 By THEE dispos'd into congenial soils,
518 Stands each attractive plant, and sucks, and swells
519 The juicy tide; a twining mass of tubes.
520 At THY command, the vernal sun awakes
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521 The torpid sap, detruded to the root
522 By wintry winds, that now, in fluent dance,
523 And lively fermentation, mounting, spreads
524 All this innumerous-colour'd scene of things.
525 ASCENDING from the vegetable world
526 To higher life, with equal wing ascend,
527 My panting Muse; and hark, how loud the woods
528 Invite you forth in all your gayest trim.
529 Lend me your song, ye nightingales! oh pour
530 The mazy-running soul of melody
531 Into my varied verse! while I deduce,
532 From the first note the hollow cuckoo sings,
533 The symphony of SPRING, and touch a theme
534 Unknown to fame, THE PASSION OF THE GROVES.
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535 JUST as the spirit of love is sent abroad,
536 Warm thro' the vital air, and on their hearts
537 Harmonious seizes, the gay troops begin,
538 In gallant thought, to plume the painted wing;
539 And try again the long-forgotten strain,
540 At first faint-warbled. But no sooner grows
541 The soft infusion prevalent, and wide,
542 Than, all alive, at once their joy o'erflows
543 In musick unconfin'd. Up-springs the lark,
544 Shrill-voiced, and loud, the messenger of morn;
545 E'er yet the shadows fly, he mounted sings
546 Amid the dawning clouds, and from their haunts
547 Calls up the tuneful nations. Every copse
548 Thick-wove, and tree irregular, and bush
549 Bending with dewy moisture, o'er the heads
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550 Of the coy quiristers that lodge within,
551 Are prodigal of harmony. The thrush
552 And wood-lark, o'er the kind-contending throng
553 Superior heard, run thro' the sweetest length
554 Of notes; when listening PHILOMELA deigns
555 To let them joy, and purposes, in thought
556 Elate, to make her night excel their day.
557 The black-bird whistles from the thorny brake;
558 The mellow bull-finch answers from the grove:
559 Nor are the linnets, o'er the flowering furze
560 Pour'd out profusely, silent. Join'd to these
561 Thousands beside, thick as the covering leaves
562 They warble under, or the nitid hues
563 That speck them o'er, their modulations mix
564 Mellifluous. The jay, the rook, the daw,
565 And each harsh pipe, discordant heard alone,
[Page 43]
566 Here aid the consort: while the stock-dove breathes
567 A melancholy murmur thro' the whole.
568 'TIS love creates their gaiety, and all
569 This waste of musick is the voice of love;
570 Which even to birds, and beasts, the tender arts
571 Of pleasing teaches. Hence the glossy kind
572 Try every winning way inventive love
573 Can dictate, and in fluttering courtship pour
574 Their little souls before her. Wide around,
575 Respectful, first in airy rings they rove,
576 Endeavouring by a thousand tricks to catch
577 The cunning, conscious, half-averted glance
578 Of their regardless charmer. Should she seem
579 Softening the least approvance to bestow,
580 Their colours burnish, and by hope inspir'd
[Page 44]
581 They brisk advance; then on a sudden struck
582 Retire disorder'd; then again approach;
583 And throwing out the last efforts of love,
584 In fond rotation spread the spotted wing,
585 And shiver every feather with desire.
586 CONNUBIAL leagues agreed, to the deep woods
587 They haste away, each as their fancy leads,
588 Pleasure, or food, or secret safety prompts;
589 That NATURE's great command may be obey'd,
590 Nor all the sweet sensations they perceive
591 Indulg'd in vain. Some to the holly-hedge
592 Nestling repair, and to the thicket some;
593 Some to the rude protection of the thorn
594 Resolve to trust their young. The clested tree
595 Offers its kind concealment to a few,
[Page 45]
596 Their food its insects, and its moss their nests.
597 Others apart far in the grassy dale
598 Their humble texture weave. But most delight
599 In unfrequented glooms, or shaggy banks,
600 Steep, and divided by a babbling brook,
601 Whose murmurs sooth them all the live-long day,
602 When for a season fix'd. Among the roots
603 Of hazel, pendant o'er the plaintive stream,
604 They frame the first foundation of their domes,
605 Dry sprigs of trees, in artful manner laid,
606 And bound with clay together. Now 'tis nought
607 But hurry hurry thro' the busy air,
608 Beat by unnumber'd wings. The swallow sweeps
609 The slimy pool, to build his hanging house
610 Ingeniously intent. Oft from the back
611 Of herds and flocks a thousand tugging bills
[Page 46]
612 Pluck hair, and wool; and oft, when unobserv'd,
613 Steal from the barn the straw; till soft, and warm,
614 Clean, and compleat, their habitation grows.
615 As thus the patient dam assiduous sits,
616 Not to be tempted from her tender task,
617 Or by sharp hunger, or by smooth delight,
618 Tho' the whole loosen'd Spring around her blows,
619 Her sympathizing lover takes his stand
620 High on th'opponent bank, and ceaseless sings
621 The tedious time away; or else supplies
622 Her place a moment, while she sudden flits
623 To pick the scanty meal. Th' appointed time
624 With pious toil fulfill'd, the callow young
625 Warm'd, and expanded into perfect life,
626 Their brittle bondage break, and come to light,
[Page 47]
627 A helpless family, demanding food
628 With constant clamour. Oh what passions then,
629 What melting sentiments of kindly care
630 Seize the new parents' hearts? Away they fly
631 Affectionate, and undesiring bear
632 The most delicious morsel to their young,
633 Which equally distributed, again
634 The search begins. So pitiful, and poor,
635 A gentle pair on providential HEAVEN
636 Cast, as they weeping eye their clamant train,
637 Check their own appetites, and give them all.
638 NOR is the courage of the fearful kind,
639 Nor is their cunning less, should some rude foot
640 Their woody haunts molest; stealthy aside
641 Into the centre of a neighbouring bush
[Page 48]
642 They drop, and whirring thence alarm'd, deceive
643 The rambling school-boy. Hence around the head
644 Of traveller, the white-wing'd plover wheels
645 Her sounding flight, and then directly on
646 In long excursion skims the level lawn,
647 To tempt you from her nest. The wild-duck hence
648 O'er the rough moss, and o'er the trackless waste
649 The heath-hen flutters, as if hurt, to lead
650 The hot pursuing spaniel far astray.
651 BE not the muse asham'd, here to bemoan
652 Her brothers of the grove, by tyrant man
653 Inhuman caught, and in the narrow cage
654 From liberty confin'd, and boundless air.
655 Dull are the pretty slaves, their plumage dull,
656 Ragged, and all its brightning lustre lost;
[Page 49]
657 Nor is that luscious wildness in their notes
658 That warbles from the beech. Oh then desist,
659 Ye friends of harmony! this barbarous art
660 Forbear, if innocence and musick can
661 Win on your hearts, or piety persuade.
662 BUT let not chief the nightingale lament
663 Her ruin'd care, too delicately fram'd
664 To brook the harsh confinement of the cage.
665 Oft when returning with her loaded bill,
666 Th' astonish'd mother finds a vacant nest,
667 By the hard hand of unrelenting clowns
668 Robb'd, to the ground the vain provision falls;
669 Her pinions ruffle, and low-drooping scarce
670 Can bear the mourner to the poplar shade;
671 Where, all abandon'd to despair, she sings
[Page 50]
672 Her sorrows thro' the night; and, on the bough
673 Sad-sitting, still at every dying fall
674 Takes up again her lamentable strain
675 Of winding woe, till wide around the woods
676 Sigh with her song, and with her wail resound.
677 AND now the feather'd youth their former bounds
678 Ardent disdain, and weighing oft their wings,
679 Demand the free possession of the sky.
680 But this glad office more, and then dissolves
681 Parental love at once; for needless grown,
682 Unlavish WISDOM never works in vain.
683 'Tis on some evening, sunny, grateful, mild,
684 When nought but balm is breathing thro' the woods,
685 With yellow lustre bright, that the new tribes
686 Visit the spacious heavens, and look abroad
[Page 51]
687 On NATURE's common, far as they can see,
688 Or wing, their range, and pasture. O'er the boughs
689 Dancing about, still at the giddy verge
690 Their resolution fails; their pinions still,
691 In loose libration stretch'd, the void abrupt
692 Trembling refuse: till down before them fly
693 The parent-guides, and chide, exhort, command,
694 Or push them off. The surging air receives
695 The plumy burden; and their self-taught wings
696 Winnow the waving element. On ground
697 Alighted, bolder up again they lead
698 Farther and farther on the lengthning flight;
699 Till vanish'd every fear, and every power
700 Rouz'd into life, and action in the void
701 Th' exoner'd parents see their soaring race,
702 And once rejoicing never know them more.
[Page 52]
703 HIGH from the summit of a craggy cliff,
704 Hung o'er the green sea, grudging at its base,
705 The royal eagle draws his young, resolv'd
706 To try them at the sun. Strong-pounc'd, and bright
707 As burnish'd day, they up the blue sky wind,
708 Leaving dull sight below, and with fix'd gaze
709 Drink in their native noon: the father-king
710 Claps his glad pinions, and approves the birth.
711 AND should I wander to the rural fear,
712 Whose aged oaks, and venerable gloom,
713 Invite the noisy rook; with pleasure there,
714 I might the various polity survey
715 Of the mixt houshold kind. The careful hen
716 Calls all her chirping family around,
[Page 53]
717 Fed, and defended by the fearless cock,
718 Whose breast with ardour flames, as on he walks
719 Graceful, and crows defiance. In the pond,
720 The finely-checker'd duck, before her train,
721 Rows garrulous. The stately-sailing swan
722 Gives out his snowy plumage to the gale,
723 And, arching proud his neck, with oary feet
724 Bears forward fierce, and beats you from the bank,
725 Protective of his young. The turkey nigh,
726 Loud-threatning, reddens; while the peacock spreads
727 His every-colour'd glory to the sun,
728 And swims in floating majesty along.
729 O'er the whole homely scene, the cooing dove
730 Flies thick in amorous chace, and wanton rolls
731 The glancing eye, and turns the changeful neck.
[Page 54]
732 WHILE thus the gentle tenants of the shade
733 Indulge their purer loves, the rougher world
734 Of brutes below, rush furious into flame,
735 And fierce desire. Thro' all his lusty veins
736 The bull, deep-scorch'd, receives the raging fire.
737 Of pasture sick, and negligent of food,
738 Scarce seen, he wades among the yellow broom,
739 While o'er his brawny back the rambling sprays
740 Luxuriant shoot; or thro' the mazy wood
741 Dejected wanders, nor th' inticing bud
742 Crops, tho' it presses on his careless sense:
743 For, wrapt in mad imagination, he
744 Roars for the fight, and idly butting, feigns
745 A rival gor'd in every knotty trunk.
746 Such should he meet, the bellowing war begins;
[Page 55]
747 Their eyes flash fury; to the hollow'd earth,
748 Whence the sand flies, they mutter bloody deeds,
749 And groaning vast th' impetuous battle mix:
750 While the fair heifer, redolent, in view
751 Stands kindling up their rage. The trembling steed,
752 With this hot impulse seiz'd in every nerve,
753 Nor hears the rein, nor heeds the sounding whip;
754 Blows are not felt; but tossing high his head,
755 And by the well-known joy, to distant plains
756 Attracted strong, all wild, he bursts away;
757 O'er rocks, and woods, and craggy mountains flies,
758 And neighing, on the aerial summit takes
759 Th' informing gale; then steep-descending, cleaves
760 The headlong torrents foaming down the hills,
761 Even where the madness of the straiten'd streams
[Page 56]
762 Turns in black eddies round: Such is the force
763 With which his frantick heart, and sinews swell.
764 NOR, undelighted by the boundless SPRING,
765 Are the broad monsters of the boiling deep:
766 From the deep ooze, and gelid cavern rous'd,
767 They flounce, and tumble in unwieldy joy.
768 Dire were the strain, and dissonant, to sing
769 The cruel raptures of the savage kind:
770 How the red lioness, her whelps forgot
771 Amid the thoughtless fury of her heart;
772 The lank rapacious wolf; th' unshapely bear;
773 The spotted tyger, fellest of the fell;
774 And all the terrors of the LIBYAN swain,
775 By this new flame their native wrath sublim'd,
776 Roam the resounding waste in fiercer bands,
[Page 57]
777 And growl their horrid loves. But this the theme
778 I sing, transported, to the BRITISH fair,
779 Forbids, and leads me to the mountain-brow,
780 Where sits the shepherd on the grassy turf,
781 Inhaling, healthful, the descending sun.
782 Around him feeds his many-bleating flock
783 Of various cadence; and his sportive lambs,
784 This way, and that, convolv'd in friskful glee,
785 Their little frolicks play. And now the race
786 Invites them forth; when swift the signal given,
787 They start away, and sweep the massy mound
788 That runs around the hill; the rampart once
789 Of iron war, in ancient barbarous times,
790 When disunited BRITAIN ever bled,
791 Lost in eternal broil; e'er yet she grew
792 To this deep-laid, indissoluble state,
[Page 58]
793 Where WEALTH and COMMERCE lift their golden head,
794 And o'er our Labours, LIBERTY and LAW
795 Illustrious watch, the wonder of a world!
796 WHAT is this MIGHTY BREATH, ye curious say,
797 Which, in a language rather felt than heard,
798 Instructs the fowls of heaven; and thro' their breasts
799 These arts of love diffuses? What, but GOD?
800 Inspiring GOD! who boundless spirit all,
801 And unremitted energy pervades,
802 Adjusts, sustains, and agitates the whole.
803 He ceaseless works alone, and yet alone
804 Seems not to work, with such perfection fram'd
805 Is this complex, amazing scheme of things.
806 But tho' conceal'd, to every purer eye
[Page 59]
807 Th' informing author in his work appears;
808 His grandeur in the heavens: the sun, and moon,
809 Whether that fires the day, or falling, this
810 Pours out a lucid softness o'er the night,
811 Are but a beam from him. The glittering stars,
812 By the deep ear of meditation heard,
813 Still in their midnight watches sing of him.
814 He nods a calm. The tempest blows his wrath,
815 Roots up the forest and o'erturns the main.
816 The thunder is his voice; and the red flash
817 His speedy sword of justice. At his touch
818 The mountains flame. He takes the solid earth,
819 And rocks the nations. Nor in these alone,
820 In every common instance GOD is seen;
821 And to the man who casts his mental eye
822 Abroad unnotic'd wonders rise. But chief
[Page 60]
823 In thee, boon SPRING, and in thy softer scenes,
824 The SMILING GOD appears; while water, earth,
825 And air attest his bounty, which instils
826 Into the brutes this temporary thought,
827 And annual melts their undesigning hearts
828 Profusely thus in tenderness, and joy.
829 STILL let my song a nobler note assume,
830 And sing th' infusive force of SPRING on man;
831 When heaven and earth, as if contending, vie
832 To raise his being, and serene his soul,
833 Can he forbear to smile with NATURE? Can
834 The stormy passions in his bosom rowl,
835 While every gale is peace, and every grove
836 Is melody? Hence, from the bounteous walks
837 Of flowing SPRING, ye sordid sons of earth,
[Page 61]
838 Hard, and unfeeling, of another's woe,
839 Or only lavish to yourselves; away.
840 But come, ye generous breasts, in whose wide thought,
841 Of all his works, CREATIVE BOUNTY, most,
842 Divinely burns; and on your open front,
843 And liberal eye, sits, from his dark retreat
844 Inviting modest want. Nor only fair,
845 And easy of approach; your active search
846 Leaves no cold wintry corner unexplor'd,
847 Like silent-working HEAVEN, surprizing oft
848 The lonely heart with unexpected good.
849 For you the roving spirit of the wind
850 Blows SPRING abroad; for you the teaming clouds
851 Descend in buxom plenty o'er the world;
852 And the sun spreads his genial blaze for you,
853 Ye flower of human race! In these green days,
[Page 62]
854 Sad-pining sickness lifts her languid head;
855 Life flows afresh; and young-ey'd health exalts
856 The whole creation round. Contentment walks
857 The sunny glade, and feels an inward bliss
858 Spring o'er his mind, beyond the power of kings
859 To purchase. Pure serenity apace
860 Induces thought, and contemplation still.
861 By small degrees the love of nature works,
862 And warms the bosom; till at last arriv'd
863 To rapture, and enthusiastic heat,
864 We feel the present DEITY, and taste
865 The joy of GOD, to see a happy world.
866 'TIS HARMONY, that world-attuning power,
867 By which all beings are adjusted, each
868 To all around, impelling, and impell'd,
[Page 63]
869 In endless circulation, that inspires
870 This universal smile. Thus the glad skies,
871 The wide rejoycing earth, the woods, the streams,
872 With every LIFE they hold, down to the flower
873 That paints the lowly vale, or insect-wing
874 Wav'd o'er the shepherd's slumber, touch the mind
875 To nature tun'd, with a light-flying hand,
876 Invisible; quick-urging, thro' the nerves,
877 The glittering spirits in a flood of day.
878 HENCE from the virgin's check, a fresher bloom
879 Shoots, less and less, the live carnation round;
880 Her lips blush deeper sweets; she breathes of youth;
881 The shining moisture swells into her eyes,
882 In brighter flow; her wishing bosom heaves
883 With palpitations wild; kind tumults seize
[Page 64]
884 Her veins, and all her yielding soul is love.
885 From the keen gaze her lover turns away,
886 Full of the dear ecstatic power, and sick
887 With sighing languishment. Ah then, ye fair!
888 Be greatly cautious of your sliding hearts;
889 Dare not th' infectious sigh; the pleading eye,
890 In meek submission drest, deject, and low,
891 But full of tempting guile. Let not the tongue,
892 Prompt to deceive, with adulation smooth,
893 Gain on your purpos'd wills. Nor in the bower,
894 Where woodbines flaunt, and roses shed a couch,
895 While evening draws her crimson curtains round,
896 Trust your soft minutes with betraying man.
897 AND let th' aspiring youth beware of love,
898 Of the smooth glance beware; for 'tis too late,
[Page 65]
899 When on his heart the torrent softness pours.
900 Then wisdom prostrate lies; and fading fame
901 Dissolves in air away: while the fond soul
902 Is wrapt in dreams of ecstacy, and bliss;
903 Still paints th' illusive form; the kindling grace;
904 Th' inticing smile; the modest-seeming eye,
905 Beneath whose beauteous beams, belying heaven,
906 Lurk searchless cunning, cruelty, and death:
907 And still, false-warbling in his cheated ear,
908 Her syren voice, enchanting, draws him on,
909 To guileful shores, and meads of fatal joy.
910 EVEN present in the very lap of love
911 Inglorious laid; while musick flows around,
912 Perfumes, and oils, and wine, and wanton hours,
913 Amid the roses fierce Repentance rears
[Page 66]
914 Her snaky crest: a quick returning twinge
915 Shoots thro' the conscious heart; where honour still,
916 And great design against th' oppressive load
917 Of luxury, by fits, impatient heave.
918 BUT absent, what fantastick pangs arrous'd,
919 Rage in each thought, by restless musing fed,
920 Chill the warm cheek, and blast the bloom of life?
921 Neglected fortune flies; and sliding swift,
922 Prone into ruin, fall his scorn'd affairs.
923 'Tis nought but gloom around. The darken'd sun
924 Loses his light. The rosy-bosom'd SPRING
925 To weeping fancy pines; and yon bright arch
926 Of heaven, low-bends into a dusky vault.
927 All nature fades extinct; and she alone
928 Heard, felt, and seen, possesses every thought,
[Page 67]
929 Fills every sense, and pants in every vein.
930 Books are but formal dulness, tedious Friends,
931 And sad amid the social band he sits,
932 Lonely and inattentive. From the tongue
933 Th' unfinish'd period falls: while, borne away
934 On swelling thought, his wafted spirit flies
935 To the vain bosom of his distant fair;
936 And leaves the semblance of a lover, fix'd
937 In melancholy site, with head declin'd,
938 And love-dejected eyes. Sudden he starts,
939 Shook from his tender trance, and restless runs
940 To glimmering shades, and sympathetick glooms,
941 Where the dun umbrage o'er the falling stream
942 Romantic hangs; there thro' the pensive dusk
943 Strays, in heart-thrilling meditation lost,
944 Indulging all to love: or on the bank
[Page 68]
945 Thrown, amid drooping lillies, swells the breeze
946 With sighs unceasing, and the brook with tears.
947 Thus in soft anguish he consumes the day,
948 Nor quits his deep retirement, till the moon
949 Peeps thro' the chambers of the fleecy east,
950 Enlighten'd by degrees, and in her train
951 Leads on the gentle hours; then forth he walks,
952 Beneath the trembling languish of her beams,
953 With soften'd soul, and wooes the bird of eve
954 To mingle woes with his: or while the world,
955 And all the sons of care, lie hush'd in sleep,
956 Associates with the midnight shadows drear;
957 And, sighing to the lonely taper, pours
958 His idly-tortur'd heart into the page,
959 Meant for the moving messenger of love;
960 Where rapture burns on rapture, every line
[Page 69]
961 With rising frenzy fir'd. But if on bed
962 Delirious flung, sleep from his pillow flies.
963 All night he tosses, nor the balmy power
964 In any posture finds; till the grey morn
965 Lifts her pale lustre on the paler wretch,
966 Exanimate by love: and then perhaps
967 Exhausted nature sinks a while to rest,
968 Still interrupted by distracted dreams,
969 That o'er the sick imagination rise,
970 And in black colours paint the mimick scene.
971 Oft with th' enchantress of his soul he talks;
972 Sometimes in crouds distress'd; or if retir'd
973 To secret-winding, flower-enwoven bowers,
974 Far from the dull impertinence of man,
975 Just as he, credulous, his thousand cares
976 Begins to lose in blind oblivious love,
[Page 70]
977 Snatch'd from her yielded hand, he knows not how,
978 Thro' forests huge, and long untravel'd heaths
979 With desolation brown, he wanders waste,
980 In night and tempest wrapt; or shrinks aghast,
981 Back, from the bending precipice; or wades
982 The turbid stream below, and strives to reach
983 The farther shore; where succourless, and sad,
984 Wild as a Bacchanal she spreads her arms,
985 But strives in vain, borne by th' outragious flood
986 To distance down, he rides the ridgy wave,
987 Or whelm'd beneath the boiling eddy sinks.
988 Then a weak, wailing lamentable cry
989 Is heard, and all in tears he wakes, again
990 To tread the circle of revolving woe.
991 These are the charming agonies of love,
992 Whose misery delights. But thro' the heart
[Page 71]
993 Should jealousy its venom once diffuse,
994 'Tis then delightful misery no more,
995 But agony unmix'd, incessant rage,
996 Corroding every thought, and blasting all
997 Love's paradise. Ye fairy prospects then
998 Ye beds of roses, and ye bowers of joy,
999 Farewell! Ye gleamings of departing peace,
1000 Shine out your last! the yellow tinging plague
1001 Internal vision taints, and in a night
1002 Of livid gloom imagination wraps.
1003 Ay then instead of love-enliven'd cheeks,
1004 Of funny features, and of ardent eyes
1005 With flowing raptures bright, dark looks succeed,
1006 Suffus'd, and glaring with untender fire,
1007 A clouded aspect, and a burning cheek,
[Page 72]
1008 Where the whole poison'd soul, malignant, sits,
1009 And frightens love away. Ten thousand fears
1010 Invented wild, ten thousand frantick views
1011 Of horrid rivals, hanging on the charms
1012 For which he melts in fondness, eat him up
1013 With fervent anguish, and consuming pine.
1014 In vain reproaches lend their idle aid,
1015 Deceitful pride, and resolution frail,
1016 Giving a moment's ease. Reflection pours,
1017 Afresh, her beauties on his busy thought,
1018 Her first endearments, twining round the soul,
1019 With all the witchcraft of ensnaring love.
1020 Strait the fierce storm involves his mind anew,
1021 Flames thro' the nerves, and boils along the veins;
1022 While anxious doubt distracts the tortur'd heart;
[Page 73]
1023 For even the sad assurance of his fears
1024 Were peace to what he feels. Thus the warm youth,
1025 Whom love deludes into his thorny wilds,
1026 Thro' flowery-tempting paths, or leads a life
1027 Of feaver'd rapture, or of cruel care;
1028 His brightest aims extinguish'd all, and all
1029 His lively moments running down to waste.
1030 BUT happy they! the happiest of their kind!
1031 Whom gentler stars unite, and in one fate
1032 Their hearts, their fortunes, and their beings blend.
1033 'Tis not the coarser tie of human laws,
1034 Unnatural oft, and foreign to the mind,
1035 That binds their peace, but harmony itself,
[Page 74]
1036 Attuning all their passions into love;
1037 Where friendship full-exerts his softest power,
1038 Perfect esteem enliven'd by desire
1039 Ineffable, and sympathy of soul,
1040 Thought meeting thought, and will preventing will,
1041 With boundless confidence; for nought but love
1042 Can answer love, and render bliss secure.
1043 Let him, ungenerous, who, alone intent
1044 To bless himself, from sordid parents buys
1045 The loathing virgin, in eternal care,
1046 Well-merited, consume his nights and days:
1047 Let barbarous nations, whose inhuman love
1048 Is wild desire, fierce as the suns they feel;
1049 Let eastern tyrants from the light of heaven
1050 Seclude their bosom-slaves, meanly possess'd
[Page 75]
1051 Of a meer, lifeless, violated form:
1052 While those whom love cements, in holy faith,
1053 And equal transport, free as nature, live,
1054 Disdaining fear; for what's the world to them,
1055 Its pomp, its pleasure, and its nonsense all!
1056 Who in each other clasp whatever fair
1057 High fancy forms, and lavish hearts can wish,
1058 Something than beauty dearer, should they look
1059 Or on the mind, or mind-illumin'd face,
1060 Truth, goodness, honour, harmony, and love,
1061 The richest bounty of indulgent HEAVEN.
1062 Mean-time a smiling Offspring rises round,
1063 And mingles both their graces. By degrees,
1064 The human blossom blows; and every day,
1065 Soft as it rolls along, shews some new charm,
[Page 76]
1066 The father's lustre, and the mother's bloom.
1067 Then infant reason grows apace, and calls
1068 For the kind hand of an assiduous care:
1069 Delightful task! to rear the tender thought,
1070 To teach the young idea how to shoot,
1071 To pour the fresh instruction o'er the mind,
1072 To breathe th' inspiring spirit, and to plant
1073 The generous purpose in the glowing breast.
1074 Oh speak the joy! you whom the sudden tear
1075 Surprizes often, while you look around,
1076 And nothing strikes your eye but sights of bliss,
1077 All various nature pressing on the heart,
1078 Obedient fortune, and approving HEAVEN.
1079 These are the blessings of diviner love;
1080 And thus their moments fly. The seasons thus,
[Page 77]
1081 As ceaseleless round a jarring world they roll,
1082 Still find them happy; and consenting SPRING
1083 Sheds her own rosy garland on their head:
1084 Till evening comes at last, cool, gentle, calm;
1085 When after the long vernal day of life,
1086 Enamour'd more, as soul approaches soul,
1087 Together, down they sink in social sleep.


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Title (in Source Edition): [The Seasons:] SPRING.
Author: James Thomson
Themes: rural life; weather; nature; landscapes
Genres: blank verse

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Source edition

Thomson, James, 1700-1748. The four seasons, and other poems. By James Thomson. London: printed for J. Millan, near Scotland-Yard, White-Hall; and A. Millar, in the Strand, M.DCC.XXXV., 1735, pp. 5-77. [2];77,[3];64;72;79,[1]p.,plates; 8⁰. (ESTC T83; Foxon T242; OTA K019862.000) (Page images digitized from a copy in the Bodleian Library, Vet. A4 e.2675.)

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The text has been typographically modernized, but without any silent modernization of spelling, capitalization, or punctuation. The source of the text is given and all editorial interventions have been recorded in textual notes. Based on the electronic text originally produced by the TCP project, this ECPA text has been edited to conform to the recommendations found in Level 5 of the Best Practices for TEI in Libraries version 4.0.0.

Secondary literature

  • Anderson, David R. Emotive Theodicy in The Seasons. Studies in Eighteenth-Century Culture 12 (1983): 59-76. Print.
  • Cohen, Ralph. The Art of Discrimination: Thomson's The Seasons and the Language of Criticism. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1964. Print.
  • Inglesfield, Robert. Shaftesbury's Influence on Thomson's Seasons. British Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies 9 (1986): 141-56. Print.
  • McKillop, A. D. The Background of Thomson's Seasons. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1942. Print.
  • Terry, Richard. 'Through Nature shedding influence malign': Thomson's The Seasons as a Theodicy. Durham University Journal87 (1995): 257-68. Print.