[Page 148]


1 HENCE sage, mysterious Law,
2 That sitt'st with rugged brow, and crabbed look
3 O'er thy black-letter'd book,
4 And the night-watching student strik'st with awe;
5 Away with thy dull train,
6 Slow-pac'd Advice, Surmise, and squint-ey'd Doubt
7 Dwell with the noisy rout
8 Of busy men, 'mid cities and throng'd halls,
9 Where Clamour ceaseless bawls,
10 And enmity and strife thy state sustain.
11 But on me thy blessings pour,
12 Sweet Vacation. Thee, of yore,
13 In all her youth and beauty's prime,
14 Summer bore to aged Time,
15 As he one sunny morn beheld her
16 Tending a field of corn: the elder
17 There 'mid poppies red and blue,
18 Unsuspected nearer drew,
19 And, with softly-sliding pace
20 Hast'ning to a stol'n embrace,
[Page 149]
21 Fill'd her with thee; and joy and mirth
22 Hung on thy auspicious birth.
23 Come, sweet goddess; full of play,
24 Ever unconfin'd and gay,
25 Bring the leisure-hours with thee
26 Leading on the Graces three
27 Dancing; nor let aught detain
28 The Holidays, a smiling train.
29 Whose fair brows let Peace serene
30 Crown with olive-branches green.
31 Bring too Health with ruddy cheek,
32 Lively air, and count'nance sleek,
33 Attended, as she's wont to be,
34 With all her jolly company
35 Of exercises, chace, and flight,
36 Active strength, and cunning sleight,
37 Nimble feats, and playful bouts,
38 Leaps of joy, and cheerful shouts,
39 Tricks and pranks and sports and games
40 Such as youthful Fancy frames.
41 And, O kind goddess, add to these
42 Cheerful Content, and placid Ease;
43 Not her who fondly sitteth near,
44 Dull Indolence in elbow'd chair;
45 But Ease who aids th' harmonious Nine,
46 Tuning their instruments divine,
47 And without whom, in lofty strain,
48 Phoebus' client tries in vain
[Page 150]
49 To raise his feeble voice above
50 The crowd, and catch the ear of Jove.
51 And do thou, Vacation, deign
52 To let me pass among thy train;
53 So may I thy vot'ry true,
54 All thy flow'ry paths pursue,
55 Pleased still with thee to meet
56 In some friendly rural seat;
57 Where I gladsome oft' survey
58 Nature in her best array,
59 Woods and lawns and lakes between,
60 Fields of corn and hedges green,
61 Fallow grounds of tawny hue,
62 Distant hills, and mountains blue;
63 On whose ridge far off appears
64 A wood (the growth of many years)
65 Of aweful oak, or gloomy pine,
66 Above th' horizon's level line
67 Rising black: such those of old
68 Where British druids wont to hold
69 Solemn assemblies, and to keep
70 Their rites, unfolding myst'ries deep,
71 Such that fam'd Dodona's grove,
72 Sacred to prophetic Jove.
73 Oft' I admire the verdant steep,
74 Spotted white with many a sheep,
75 While, in pastures rich below
76 Among the grazing cattle, slow
[Page 151]
77 Moves the bull with heavy tread
78 Hanging down his lumpish head,
79 And the proud steed neigheth oft'
80 Shaking his wanton mane aloft.
81 Or, traversing the wood about,
82 The jingling packhorse-bells remote
83 I hear, amid the noontide stillness,
84 Sing thro' the air with brassy shrillness;
85 What time the waggon's cumbrous load
86 Grates along the grav'lly road:
87 There onward, dress'd in homely guise,
88 Some unregarded maiden hies,
89 Unless by chance a trav'lling 'squire,
90 Of base intent and foul desire,
91 Stops to insnare, with speech beguiling,
92 Sweet innocence and beauty smiling.
93 Nor fail I joyful to partake
94 The lively sports of country wake,
95 Where many a lad and many a lass
96 Foot it on the close-trod grass.
97 There nimble Marian of the green
98 Matchless in the jig is seen,
99 Allow'd beyond compare by all,
100 The beauty of the rustic ball:
101 While, the tripping damsels near,
102 Stands a lout with waggish leer;
103 He, if Marian chance to shew
104 Her taper leg and stocking blue,
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105 Winks and nods and laughs aloud,
106 Among the merry-making crowd,
107 Utt'ring forth, in aukward jeer,
108 Words unmeet for virgin's ear.
109 Soon as ev'ning clouds have shed
110 Their wat'ry store on earth's soft bed,
111 And thro' their flowing mantles thin,
112 Clear azure spots of sky are seen,
113 I quit some oak's close-cover'd bow'r
114 To taste the boon of new-fall'n show'r,
115 To pace the corn-field's grassy edge
116 Close by a fresh-blown sweet-bri'r hedge
117 While at every green leaf's end
118 Pearly drops of rain depend,
119 And an earthy fragrance 'round
120 Rises from the moisten'd ground.
121 Sudden a sun-beam darting out,
122 Brightens the landskip all about,
123 With yellow light the grove o'erspreads,
124 And tips with gold the haycocks' heads
125 Then, as mine eye is eastward led,
126 Some fair castle rears its head,
127 Whose height the country round commands,
128 Well known mark to distant lands,
129 There the windows glowing bright
130 Blaze from afar with ruddy light
131 Borrow'd from clouds of scarlet dye,
132 Just as the sun hath left the sky.
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133 But if chill Eurus cut the air
134 With keener wing, I then repair
135 To park or woodland, shelter meet,
136 Near some noble's ancient seat,
137 Where long winding walks are seen
138 Stately oaks and elms between,
139 Whose arms promiscuous form above
140 High over-arch'd a green alcove;
141 While the hoarse-voic'd hungry rook
142 Near her stick-built nest doth croak,
143 Waving on the topmost bough;
144 And the master stag below
145 Bellows loud with savage roar,
146 Stalking all his hinds before.
147 Thus musing, night with even pace
148 Steals on, o'ershad'wing nature's face;
149 While the bat with dusky wings
150 Flutters round in giddy rings,
151 And the buzzing chaffers come
152 Close by mine ear with solemn hum.
153 Homeward now my steps I guide
154 Some rising grassy bank beside,
155 Studded thick with sparks of light
156 Issuing from many a glow-worm bright;
157 While village-cur with minute bark
158 Alarms the pilf'rer in the dark,
159 Save what light the stars convey,
160 Cluster'd in the milky way,
[Page 154]
161 Or scatter'd numberless on high
162 Twinkling all o'er the boundless sky.
163 Then within doors let me meet
164 The viol touch'd by finger neat,
165 Or, soft symphonies among
166 Wrap me in the sacred song,
167 Attun'd by Handel's matchless skill,
168 While Attention mute and still
169 Fixes all my soul to hear
170 The voice harmonious, sweet and clear.
171 Nor let smooth-tongu'd Converse fail,
172 With many a well-devised tale,
173 And stories link'd, to twist a chain
174 That may awhile old Time detain,
175 And make him rest upon his scythe
176 Pleas'd to see the hours so blithe:
177 While, with sweet attractive grace,
178 The beauteous house-wife of the place
179 Wins the heart of ev'ry guest
180 By courteous deeds, and all contest
181 Which shall readiest homage shew
182 To such sov'reign sweetness due.
183 These delights, Vacation, give,
184 And I with thee will chuse to live.


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About this text

Title (in Source Edition): VACATION.
Author: William Hall
Themes: retirement; nature
Genres: imitation
References: DMI 27840

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Source edition

Dodsley, Robert, 1703-1764. A Collection of Poems in Six Volumes. By Several Hands. Vol. VI. London: printed by J. Hughs, for R. and J. Dodsley, 1763 [1st ed. 1758], pp. 148-154. 6v.: music; 8⁰. (ESTC T131163; OTA K104099.006) (Page images digitized by the Eighteenth-Century Poetry Archive from a copy in the archive's library.)

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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.