ODE ON THE APPROACH OF SUMMER.
1 HENCE, iron-scepter'd Winter, haste
2 To bleak Siberian waste!
3 Haste to thy polar solitude;
4 Mid cataracts of ice,
5 Whose torrents dumb are stretch'd in fragments rude,
6 From many an airy precipice,
7 Where, ever beat by sleety showers,
8 Thy gloomy Gothic castle towers;
9 Amid whose howling iles and halls,
10 Where no gay sunbeam paints the walls;
11 On ebon throne thou lov'st to shroud
12 Thy brows in many a murky cloud.
13 Ev'n now, before the vernal heat,
14 Sullen I see thy train retreat:
15 Thy ruthless host stern Eurus guides,
16 That on a ravenous tyger rides,
17 Dim-figur'd on whose robe are shewn
18 Shipwrecks, and villages o'erthrown:
19 Grim Auster, dropping all with dew,
20 In mantle clad of watchet hue:
21 And Cold, like Zemblan savage seen,
22 Still threatning with his arrows keen;[Page 271]
23 And next, in furry coat embost
24 With icicles, his brother Frost.
25 Winter, farewel! thy forests hoar,
26 Thy frozen floods delight no more;
27 Farewel the fields, so bare and wild!
28 But come thou rose-cheek cherub mild,
29 Sweetest Summer! haste thee here,
30 Once more to crown the gladden'd year.
31 Thee April blithe, as long of yore,
32 Bermudas' lawns he frolick'd o'er,
33 With muskye nectar-trickling wing,
34 (In the new world's first dawning spring)
35 To gather balm of choicest dews,
36 And patterns fair of various hues,
37 With which to paint in changeful dye,
38 The youthful earth's embroidery;
39 To cull the essence of rich smells,
40 In which to dip his new-born bells;
41 Thee, as he skimm'd with pinions fleet,
42 He found an infant, smiling sweet;
43 Where a tall citron's shade imbrown'd
44 The soft lap of the fragrant ground.
45 There on an amaranthine bed,
46 Thee with rare nectarine fruits he fed;
47 Till soon beneath his forming care,
48 You look'd a goddess debonair;
49 And then he gave the blessed isle,
50 Aye to be sway'd beneath thy smile:
51 There plac'd thy green and grassy shrine,
52 With myrtle bower'd and jessamine:[Page 272]
53 And to thy care the task assign'd
54 With quickening hand, and nurture kind,
55 His roseate infant-births to rear,
56 Till Autumn's mellowing reign appear.
57 Haste thee, nymph! and hand in hand
58 With thee lead a buxom band;
59 Bring fantastic-footed Joy,
60 With Sport, that yellow-tressed boy.
61 Leisure, that thro' the balmy sky
62 Chases a crimson butterfly.
63 Bring Health, that loves in early dawn
64 To meet the milk-maid on the lawn;
65 Bring Pleasure, rural nymph, and Peace,
66 Meek, cottage-loving shepherdess!
67 And that sweet stripling, Zephyr, bring,
68 Light, and for ever on the wing.
69 Bring the dear Muse, that loves to lean
70 On river margins, mossy green.
71 But who is she that bears thy train,
72 Pacing light the velvet plain?
73 The pale pink binds her auburn hair,
74 Her tresses flow with pastoral air;
75 'Tis May, the grace — confest she stands
76 By branch of hawthorn in her hands:
77 Lo! near her trip the lightsome dews,
78 Their wings all ting'd in iris-hues;
79 With whom the powers of Flora play,
80 And paint with pansies all the way.
81 Oft when thy season, sweetest Queen,
82 Has drest the groves in livery green,[Page 273]
83 When in each fair and fertile field
84 Beauty begins her bower to build;
85 While Evening, veil'd in shadows brown,
86 Puts her matron-mantle on,
87 And mists in spreading steams convey
88 More fresh the fumes of new-shorn hay;
89 Then, Goddess, guide my pilgrim feet
90 Contemplation hoar to meet,
91 As slow he winds in museful mood,
92 Near the rush'd marge of Cherwell's flood;
93 Or o'er old Avon's magic edge,
94 Whence Shakespeare cull'd the spiky sedge,
95 All playful yet, in years unripe,
96 To frame a shrill and simple pipe.
97 There thro' the dusk but dimly seen,
98 Sweet evening objects intervene:
99 His wattled cotes the shepherd plants,
100 Beneath her elm the milk-maid chants.
101 The woodman, speeding home, awaile
102 Rests him at a shady stile.
103 Nor wants there fragrance to dispense
104 Refreshment o'er my soothed sense;
105 Nor tangled woodbines balmy bloom,
106 Nor grass besprent, to breathe perfume!
107 Nor lurking wild-thyme's spicy sweet
108 To bathe in dew my roving feet:
109 Nor wants there note of Philomel;
110 Nor sound of distant-tinkling bell:
111 Nor lowings faint of herds remote,
112 Nor mastiff's bark from bosom'd cott;[Page 274]
113 Rustle the breezes lightly borne
114 Or deep-embattled ears of corn:
115 Round ancient elm with humming noise,
116 Full loud the chaffer-swarms rejoice.
117 Meantime a thousand dies invest
118 The ruby chambers of the west!
119 That all aslant the village tower
120 A mild reflected radiance pour,
121 While, with the level-streaming rays
122 Far seen its arched windows blaze:
123 And the tall grove's green top is dight
124 In russet tints, and gleams of light:
125 So that the gay scene by degrees
126 Bathes my blithe heart in extasies;
127 And Fancy to my ravish'd sight
128 Pourtrays her kindred visions bright.
129 At length the parting light subdues
130 My soften'd soul to calmer views,
131 And fainter shapes of pensive joy,
132 As twilight dawns, my mind employ,
133 Till from the path I fondly stray
134 In musings lapt, nor heed the way;
135 Wandering thro' the landscape still,
136 Till Melancholy has her fill;
137 And on each moss-wove border damp,
138 The glow-worm hangs his fairy lamp.
139 But when the sun, at noon-tide hour,
140 Sits throned in his highest tower;
141 Me, heart-rejoicing Goddess, lead
142 To the tann'd hay-cock in the mead:[Page 275]
143 To mix in rural mood among
144 The nymphs and swains, a busy throng;
145 Or, as the tepid odours breathe,
146 The russet piles to lean beneath:
147 There as my listless limbs are thrown
148 On couch more soft than palace down,
149 I listen to the busy sound
150 Of mirth and toil that hums around;
151 And see the team shrill-tinkling pass
152 Alternate o'er the furrow'd grass.
153 But ever, after summer-shower,
154 When the bright sun's returning power;
155 With laughing beam has chas'd the storm;
156 And chear'd reviving Nature's form;
157 By sweet-brier hedges, bath'd in dew,
158 Let me my wholesome path pursue;
159 There issuing forth the frequent snail;
160 Wears the dank way with slimy trail;
161 While as I walk, from pearled bush
162 The sunny sparkling drop I brush;
163 And all the landscape fair I view
164 Clad in robe of fresher hue:
165 And so loud the black-bird sings,
166 That far and near the valley rings.
167 From shelter deep of shaggy rock
168 The shepherd drives his joyful flock;
169 From bowering beech the mower blithe
170 With new-born vigour grasps the scythe;
171 While o'er the smooth unbounded meads
172 His last faint gleam the rainbow spreads.
173 But ever, against restless heat,
174 Bear me to the rock-arch'd seat,
175 O'er whose dim mouth an ivy'd oak
176 Hangs nodding from the low-brow'd rock;
177 Haunted by that chaste nymph alone,
178 Whose waters cleave the smoothed stone;
179 Which, as they gush upon the ground,
180 Still scatter misty dews around:
181 A rustic, wild, grotesque alcove,
182 Its side with mantling woodbines wove;
183 Cool as the cave where Clio dwells,
184 Whence Helicon's fresh fountain wells;
185 Or noon-tide grott where Sylvan sleeps
186 In hoar Lycaeum's piny steeps.
187 Me, Goddess, in such cavern lay,
188 While all without is scorch'd in day;
189 Sore sighs the weary swain, beneath
190 His withering hawthorn on the heath;
191 The drooping hedger wishes eve,
192 In vain, of labour short reprieve!
193 Meantime, on Afric's glowing sands,
194 Smote with keen heat, the traveller stands:
195 Low sinks his heart, while round his eye
196 Measures the scenes that boundless lie,
197 Ne'er yet by foot of mortal worn,
198 Where Thirst, wan pilgrim, walks forlorn.
199 How does he wish some cooling wave
200 To slake his lips, or limbs to lave!
201 And thinks, in every whisper low,
202 He hears a bursting fountain flow.
203 Or bear me to yon antique wood,
204 Dim temple of sage Solitude!
205 But still in Fancy's mirror sees
206 Some more romantic scene would please,
207 There within a nook most dark,
208 Where none my musing mood may mark,
209 Let me, in many a whisper'd rite,
210 The Genius old of Greece invite,
211 With that fair wreath my brows to bind,
212 Which for his chosen imps he twin'd,
213 Well nurtur'd in Pierian lore,
214 On clear Ilissus' laureat shore —
215 Till high on waving nest reclin'd,
216 The raven wakes my tranced mind!
217 Or to the forest-fringed vale
218 Where widow'd turtles love to wail,
219 Where cowslips clad in mantle meek,
220 Nod their tall heads to breezes weak:
221 In the midst, with sedges grey
222 Crown'd, a scant rivulet winds its way,
223 And trembling thro' the weedy wreaths,
224 Around an oozy freshness breathes.
225 O'er the solitary green,
226 Nor cott, nor loitering hind is seen:
227 Nor aught alarms the mute repose,
228 Save that by fits an heifer lows:
229 A scene might tempt some peaceful sage
230 To rear him a lone hermitage;
231 Fit place his pensive eld might chuse
232 On Virtue's holy lore to muse.
233 Yet still the sultry noon t' appease
234 Some more romantic scene might please;
235 Or fairy bank, or magic lawn,
236 By Spenser's lavish pencil drawn;
237 Or bower in Vallambrosa's shade,
238 By legendary pens pourtray'd.
239 Haste let me shroud from painful light,
240 On that hoar hill's aërial height,
241 In solemn state, where waving wide,
242 Thick pines with darkening umbrage hide
243 The rugged vaults, and riven towers
244 Of that proud castle's painted bowers,
245 Whence Hardyknute, a baron bold,
246 In Scotland's martial days of old,
247 Descended from the stately feast,
248 Begirt with many a warrior-guest,
249 To quell the pride of Norway's king,
250 With quivering lance and twanging string.
251 As thro' the caverns dim I wind,
252 Might I that holy legend find,
253 By fairies spelt in mystic rhymes,
254 To teach enquiring later times,
255 What open force, or secret guile,
256 Dash'd into dust the solemn pile.
257 But when mild Morn in saffron stole
258 First issues from her eastern goal;
259 Let not my due feet fail to climb
260 Some breezy summit's brow sublime,
261 Whence Nature's universal face
262 Illumin'd smiles with new-born grace;[Page 279]
263 The misty streams that wind below,
264 With silver-sparkling lustre glow;
265 The groves, and castled cliffs appear
266 Invested all in radiance clear;
267 O! every village-charm beneath!
268 The smoke that mounts in azure wreath!
269 O beauteous, rural interchange!
270 The simple spire, and elmy grange!
271 Content, indulging blissful hours,
272 Whistles o'er the fragrant flowers,
273 And cattle rouz'd to pasture new,
274 Shake jocund from their sides the dew.
275 'Tis thou alone, O Summer mild,
276 Canst bid me carol wood-notes wild:
277 Whene'er I view thy genial scenes,
278 Thy waving woods, embroider'd greens,
279 What fires within my bosom wake,
280 How glows my mind the reed to take!
281 What charms like thine the muse can call,
282 With whom 'tis youth and laughter all;
283 With whom each field's a paradise,
284 And all the globe a bower of bliss!
285 With thee conversing, all the day,
286 I meditate my lightsome lay.
287 These pedant cloisters let me leave
288 To breathe my votive song at eve,
289 In valleys where mild whispers use;
290 Of shade and stream to court the muse;
291 While wandering o'er the brook's dim verge,
292 I hear the stock-dove's dying dirge.
293 But when life's busier scene is o'er:
294 And age shall give the tresses hoar,
295 I'd fly soft Luxury's marble dome,
296 And make an humble thatch my home,
297 Which sloping hills around enclose,
298 Where many a beech and brown oak grows;
299 Beneath whose dark and branching bowers
300 Its tides a far-fam'd river pours:
301 By Nature's beauties taught to please,
302 Sweet Tuseulane of rural ease!
303 Still grot of Peace! in lowly shed
304 Who loves to rest her gentle head.
305 For not the scenes of Attic art
306 Can comfort care, or soothe the heart:
307 Nor burning cheek, nor wakeful eye,
308 For gold, and Tyrian purple fly.
309 Thither, kind heaven, in pity lent,
310 Send me a little and content;
311 The faithful friend, and chearful night,
312 The social scene of dear delight:
313 The conscience pure, the temper gay,
314 The musing eve, and idle day.
315 Give me beneath cool shades to sit,
316 Rapt with the charms of classic wit:
317 To catch the bold heroic flame,
318 That built immortal Graecia's fame.
319 Nor let me fail, meantime, to raise
320 The solemn song to Britain's praise:
321 To spurn the shepherd's simple reeds,
322 And paint heroic ancient deeds:[Page 281]
323 To chant fam'd Arthur's magic tale
324 And Edward, stern in sable mail.
325 Or wandering Brutus' lawless doom,
326 Or brave Bonduca, scourge of Rome;
327 O ever to sweet poesie,
328 Let me live true votary!
329 She shall lead me by the hand,
330 Queen of sweet smiles, and solace bland!
331 She from her precious stores shall shed
332 Ambrosial flowrets o'er my head:
333 She, from my tender youthful cheek
334 Can wipe, with lenient finger meek,
335 The secret and unpitied tear,
336 Which still I drop in darkness drear.
337 She shall be my blooming bride,
338 With her, as years successive glide,
339 I'll hold divinest dalliance,
340 For ever held in holy trance.