WRITTEN IN THE HOT WEATHER, JULY MDCCLVII.
1 THREE hours from noon the passing shadow shows,
2 The sultry breeze glides faintly o'er the plains,
3 The dazzling aether fierce and fiercer glows,
4 And human nature scarce its rage sustains.
5 Now still and vacant is the dusty street,
6 And still and vacant where yon fields extend,
7 Save where those swains, oppress'd with toil and heat,
8 The grassy harvest of the mead attend.
9 Lost is the lively aspect of the ground,
10 Low are the springs, the reedy ditches dry;
11 No verdant spot in all the vale is found,
12 Save what yon stream's unfailing stores supply,
13 Where are the flowers that made the garden gay?
14 Where is their beauty, where their fragrance sled?
15 Their stems relax, fast fall their leaves away,
16 They fade and mingle with their dusty bed:
17 All but the natives of the torrid zone,
18 What Afric's wilds, or Peru's fields display,
19 Pleas'd with a clime that imitates their own,
20 They lovelier bloom beneath the parching ray.
21 Where is wild nature's heart-reviving song,
22 That fill'd in genial Spring the verdant bowers?
23 Silent in gloomy woods the feather'd throng
24 Pine thro' this long, long course of sultry hours.
25 Where is the dream of bliss by Summer brought?
26 The walk along the riv'let-water'd vale?
27 The field with verdure clad, with fragrance fraught,
28 The sun mild-beaming, and the fanning gale?
29 The weary soul Imagination chears,
30 Her pleasing colours paint the future gay;
31 Time passes on, the truth itself appears,
32 The pleasing colours instant fade away:
33 In different seasons different joys we place,
34 And these shall Spring supply, and Summer these;
35 Yet frequent storms the bloom of Spring deface,
36 And Summer scarcely brings a day to please.
37 O for some secret shady cool recess!
38 Some Gothic dome o'erhung with darksome trees,
39 Where thick damp walls this raging heat repress;
40 Where the long isle invites the lazy breeze:
41 But why these plaints? — amid his wastes of sand,
42 Far more than this the wandering Arab feels;
43 Far more the Indian in Columbus' land,
44 While Phoebus o'er him rolls his fiery wheels:
45 Far more the sensible of mind sustains,
46 Rack'd with the poignant pangs of fear or shame:
47 The hopeless lover, bound in beauty's chains,
48 And he, whom envy robs of hard-earn'd same:
49 He, who a father or a mother mourns,
50 Or lovely consort lost in early bloom,
51 He, whom the dreaded rage of fever burns,
52 Or slow disease leads lingering to the tomb. —
53 Lest man should sink beneath the present pain;
54 Lest man should triumph in the present joy;
55 For him th' unvarying "Laws of heaven ordain,"
56 Hope in his ills, and to his bliss alloy.
57 Fierce and oppressive is the sun we share,
58 Yet not unuseful to our humid soil;
59 Hence shall our fruits a richer flavour bear,
60 Hence shall our plains with riper harvests smile:
61 Reflect and be content — for mankind's good
62 Heaven gives the due degrees of drought or rain;
63 To-morrow ceaseless showers may swell the flood,
64 Nor soon yon sun rise blazing fierce again:
65 Ev'n now behold the grateful change at hand,
66 Hark, in the east loud blustering gales arise;
67 Wide and more wide the darkening clouds expand,
68 And distant lightnings flash along the skies:
69 O in the awful concert of the storm,
70 While hail and rain, and wind and thunder join!
71 Let the great Ruler's praise my song inform,
72 Let wonder, reverence, gratitude be mine.