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O'er every field and golden prospect found,
That glads the ploughman's Sunday morning round,
When on some eminence he takes his stand,
To judge the smiling produce of the land.
Here Vanity slinks back, her head to hide :
What is there here to flatter human pride?
The towering fabric, or the dome's loud roar,
And steadfast columns, may
Where the charm'd gazer long delighted stays,
Yet traced but to the architect the praise;
Whilst here, the veriest clown that treads the sod,
Without one scruple gives the praise to God:
And twofold joys possess his raptured mind,
From gratitude and admiration join'd.
Here, midst the boldest triumphs of her worth,
Nature herself invites the reapers forth;
Dares the keen sickle from its twelvemonth's rest,
And gives that ardour which in every breast
From infancy to age alike appears,
When the first sheaf its plumy top uprears.
No rake takes here what Heaven to all bestows-
Children of want ! for you the bounty flows:
And every cottage from the plenteous store,
Receives a burden nightly at its door.
From The Farmer's Boy : Summer.
Now, ere sweet Summer bids its long adieu,
And winds blow keen where late the blossom grew,
The bustling day and jovial night must come,
The long-accustom'd feast of HARVEST-HOME.
No blood-stain`d victory, in story bright,
Can give the philosophic mind delight;
No triumph please while rage and death destroy:
Retlection sickens at the monstrous joy.
And where the joy, if rightly understood,
Like cheerful praise for universal good?
The soul nor check nor doubtful anguish knows,
But free and pure the grateful current flows.
Behold the sound oak table's massy frame
Bestride the kitchen floor! the careful damne
And generous host invite their friends around,
While all that clear'd the crop, or tillid the ground,
Are guests by right of custom:-old and young;
And many a neighbouring yeoman join the throng,
With artisans that lent their dext'rous aid,
When o'er each field the flaming sun-beams play’d.
Yet Plenty reigns, and from her boundless hvard,
Though not one jelly trembles on the board,
Supplies the feast with all that sense can crave;
With all that made our great forefathers brave,
Ere the cloy'd palate countless flavours tried,
And cooks had Nature's judgment set aside.
With thanks to Heaven, and tales of rustic lore,
The mansion echoes when the banquet 's o’er;
A wider circle spreads, and smiles abound
As quick the frothing horn performs its round;
Care's mortal foe; that sprightly joys imparts
To cheer the frame and elevate their hearts.
Here, fresh and brown, the hazel's produce lies
In tempting heaps, and peals of laughter rise,
And crackling Music, with the frequent Song,
Unheeded bear the midnight hour along.
Here once a year Distinction lowers its crest,
The master, servant, and the merry guest,
Are equal all; and round the happy ring
The reaper's eyes exulting glances fling,
And, warmd with gratitude, he quits his place,
With sun-burnt hands and ale-enliven'd face,
Refills the jug his honour d host to tend,
To serve at once the master and the friend;
Proud thus to meet his smiles, to share his tale,
Ilis nuts, his conversation, and his ale.
From The l'on er's Boy: Strmer,
MISERIES OF THE POST-HORSE.
E'en sober Dobbin lifts his clumsy heels
And kicks, disdainful of the dirty wheels.
Short-sighted Dobbin !—thou canst only see
The trivial hardships that encompass thee:
Thy chains were freedom, and thy toils repose,
Could the poor post-horse tell thee all his woes;
Show thee his bleeding shoulders, and unfold
The dreadful anguish he endures for gold;
Hired at each call of business, lust, or rage,
That prompt the traveller on from stage to stage:
Still on his strength depends their boasted speed;
For them his limbs grow weak, his bare ribs bleed;
And though he groaning quickens at command,
Their extra shilling in the rider's hand
Becomes his bitter scourge :-'tis he must feel
The double efforts of the lash and steel;
Till when, up hill, the destined inn he gains,
And trembling under complicated pains,
Prone from his nostrils, darting on the ground,
His breath emitted floats in clouds around:
Drops chase each other down his chest and sides,
And spatter'd mud his native colour hides:
Through his swoln veins the boiling torrent flows,
And every nerve a separate torture knows.
His harness loosed, he welcomes eager-eyed
The pail's full draught that quivers by his side;
And joys to see the well-known stable door,
As the starved mariner the friendly shore.
Ah, well for him if here his sufferings ceased,
And ample hours of rest his pains appeased !
But roused again, and sternly bade to rise,
And shake refreshing slumber from his eyes,
Ere his exhausted spirits can return,
Or through his frame reviving ardour burn,
Come forth he must, though limping, maim’d, and
He hears the whip; the chaise is at the door :-
The collar tightens, and again he feels
His half-heal'd wounds inflamed; again the wheels
With tiresome sameness in his ears resound,
O'er blinding dust, or miles of flinty ground.
Thus nightly robb’d, and injured day by day,
His piece-meal murderers wear his life away.
From The Farmer's Boy: Winlcr.
THE SHEPHERD AND THE SPECTRE.
Whilst thus the loiterer's utmost stretch of soul Climbs the still clouds, or passes those that roll, And loosed Imagination soaring goes High o'er his home, and all his little woes, Time glides away; neglected Duty calls: At once from plains of light to earth he fails, And down a narrow lane, well known by day, With all his speed pursues his sounding way, In thought still half absorb'd, and chilld with cold; When, lo! an object frightful to behold; A grisly SPECTRE, clothed in silver-grey, Around whose feet the waving shadows play, Stands in his path!--He stops, and not a breath Heaves from his heart, that sinks almost to death. Loud the owl halloos o'er his head unseen; All else is silent, dismally serene: Some prompt ejaculation whisper'd low, Yet bears him up against the threat'ning foe; And thus poor Giles, though half inclined to fly, Mutters his doubts, and strains his steadfast eye. “ 'Tis not my crimes thou com’st here to reprove; No murders stain my soul, no perjured love: If thou 'rt indeed what here thou seem'st to be, Thy dreadful mission cannot reach to me. By parents taught still to mistrust mine eyes, Still to approach each object of surprise, Lest Fancy's formful visions should deceive In moonlight paths, or glooms of falling eve, This then 's the moment when my heart should try To scan thy motionless deformity; But oh, the fearful task! yet well I know An aged ash, with many a spreading bough (Beneath whose leaves I've found a summer's bow'r, Beneath whose trunk I've weather'd
many a show'r) Stands singly down this solitary way, But far beyond where now my footsteps stay. 'Tis true, thus far I've come with heedless haste; No reck’ning kept, no passing objects traced :And can I then have reach'd that very tree? Or is its reverend form assumed by thee?” The happy thought alleviates his pain : He creeps another step; then stops again; Till slowly, as his noiseless feet draw near, Its perfect lineaments at once appear;
Its crown of shivering ivy whispering peace,
And its white bark that fronts the moon's pale face.
Now, whilst his blood mounts upward, now he knows
The solid gain that from conviction flows;
And strengthen'd Confidence shall hence fulfil
(With conscious Innocence more valued still)
The dreariest task that winter nights can bring,
By churchyard dark, or grove, or fairy ring:
Still buoying up the timid mind of youth,
Till loitering Reason hoists the scale of Truth.
With these blest guardians Giles his course pursues,
Till numbering his heavy-sided ewes,
Surrounding stillness tranquillize his breast,
And shape the dreams that wait his hours of rest.
From The Farmer's Boy : Winter.
Near the high road upon a winding stream An honest Miller rose to wealth and fame: The noblest virtues cheer'd his lengthen’d days, And all the country echoed with his praise. His wife, the doctress of the neighb’ring poor, Drew constant prayers and blessings round his door.
One summer's night (the hour of rest was come)
Darkness unusual overspread their home;
A chilling blast was felt: the foremost cloud
Sprinkled the bubbling pool; and thunder loud,
Though distant yet, menaced the country round,
And fill'd the heavens with its solemn sound.
Who can retire to rest when tempests lour-
Nor wait the issue of the coming hour?
Meekly resign'd she sat, in anxious pain;
He fill’d his pipe, and listen'd to the rain
That batter'd furiously their strong abode,
Roar'd in the dam, and lash'd the pebbled road:
When, mingling with the storin, confused and wild,
They heard, or thought they heard, a screaming child:
The voice approach'd; and 'midst the thunder's roar,
Now loudly begg'd for mercy at the door.
Mercy was there: the Miller heard the call;
His door he open'd; when a sudden squall
Drove in a wretched Girl; who weeping stood,
Whilst the cold rain dripp'd from her in a flood.
With kind officiousness the tender Dame
Roused up the dying embers to a flame;