On Returning to Lehena,
in May, M DCC LXXXVIII.
1 WELCOME once more, my native land!
2 What joy to breathe the perfum'd gale,
3 Which, as immers'd in thought I stand,
4 Salutes me from the hawthorn vale!
5 O Solitude! of mind serene,
6 Parent of Innocence and Peace,
7 Preside for ever o'er this scene,
8 Nor let this grateful silence cease!
9 I've left the gayer paths of life,
10 Where Reason ne'er could Pleasure find,
11 Where ever restless, busy Strife
12 Leaves look'd-for Happiness behind.
13 There Flattery o'er my youthful cheek
14 Has spread a momentary glow;
15 There Vanity has made me seek
16 The gilded roofs of hidden Woe.
17 There have I seen neglected Worth,
18 Abash'd, decline her honest head,
19 While Vice in gaudy robes came forth,
20 By Pride and Adulation led.
21 There Envy steeps the poison'd dart,
22 To strike at Merit's open breast;
23 There smooth, insinuating Art
24 Deceives the wisest and the best.
25 The Nobles, who were wont to raise
26 To Liberty a spotless shrine,
27 To Av'rice now devote their days,
28 For her unhallow'd garlands twine.
29 The gentle Virgin, who of yore
30 Thought Worth and Happiness the same,
31 Contemns what she rever'd before,
32 And Truth she calls an empty name.
33 The Beauty, whom relentless Time
34 Has robb'd of every boasted grace,
35 Retains the follies of her prime,
36 And decks with borrow'd bloom her face.
37 But say, amid such scenes as these,
38 Can I still hope my mind was free?
39 Say, in this more than Cretan maze,
40 Was I devoted still to thee?
41 Did ne'er Ambition swell my breast,
42 Or sparkle in my dazzled eye?
43 Did ne'er offended Pride molest
44 My hours, or prompt the heaving sigh?
45 Yes: I have felt their baneful power,
46 Have own'd their universal sway,
47 Was tempted in one thoughtless hour
48 Their shameful dictates to obey.
49 But Reason rais'd my fainting soul,
50 Ere I the magic draught could sip;
51 Ere I had touch'd the Syren's bowl,
52 She turn'd it from my eager lip.
53 "Amoret," she cried, "for ever leave
54 " This scene where Vice and Folly reign;
55 "The time you've lost in crowds retrieve,
56 " Nor hope for bliss but on the plain. "
57 With this kind counsel I complied,
58 No longer worldly splendour prize;
59 Nor shall I build my nobler pride
60 But on becoming good and wise.
61 Accept then, Solitude, my prayer,
62 A wearied wanderer receive;
63 Strengthen'd by thee, I will prepare
64 By spotless virtue for the grave.