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'Tis perch'd upon the green-hill top, but close Environ'd with a ring of branching elms That overhang the thatch, itself unseen Peeps at the vale below ; so thick beset With foliage of such dark redundant growth, I call’d the low-roof'd lodge the peasant's nest. And, hidden as it is, and far remote From such unpleasing sounds as haunt the ear In village or in town, the bay of curs Incessant, clinking hammers, grinding wheels, And infants clam'rous whether pleas'd or pain'd, _Oft have I wish'd the peaceful covert mine. Here, I have said, at least I should possess The poet's treasure, silence, and indulge · The dreams of fancy, tranquil and secure. Vain thought! the dweller in that still retreat Dearly obtains the refuge it affords. Its elevated site forbids the wretch To drink sweet waters of the crystal well ; He dips his bowl into the weedy ditch, And, heavy laden, brings his bev'rage home, Far fetch'd and little worth ; nor seldom waits, Dependent on the baker's punctual call, To hear his creaking panniers at the door, Angry and sad, and his last crust consum'd. So farewel envy of the peasant's nest ! If solitude make scant the means of life, Society for me !-thou seeming sweet, Be still a pleasing object in my view ; My visit still, but never mine abode.
Not distant far, a length of colonnade
Invites us, monument of ancient taste,
Now scorn'd, but worthy of a better fate.
Our fathers knew the value of a screen
From sultry suns; and, in their shaded walks
And long-protracted bow'rs, enjoy'd at noon
The gloom and coolness of declining day.
We bear our shades about us ; self-depriv'd
Of other screen, the thin umbrella spread,
And range an Indian waste without a tree.
Thanks to Benevolus *he spares me yet
These chesnuts rang’in corresponding lines ;
And, though himself so polish’d, still reprieves
The obsolete prolixity of shade.
Descending now (but cautious, lest too fast)
A sudden steep, upon a rustic bridge
We pass a gulf, in which the willows dip
Their pendant boughs, stooping as if to drink.
Hence, ankle-deep in moss and flow'ry thyme,
Our foot half sunk in hillocks green and soft,
Rais’d by the mole, the miner of the soil.
He, not unlike the great ones of mankind,
Disfigures earth ; and, plotting in the dark,
Toils much to earn a monumental pile,
That may record the mischiefs he has done.
The summit gain'd, behold the proud alcove
That crowns it ! yet not all its pride secures
The grand retreat from injuries impress'd
* John Courtney Throckmorton, Esq. of Weston Underwood.
By rural carvers, who with knives deface
The pannels, leaving an obscure, rude name,
In characters uncouth, and spelt amiss. .
So strong the zeal ť immortalize himself
Beats in the breast of man, that ev'n a few,
Few transient years, won from th' abyss abhorr'd
Of blank oblivion, seem a glorious prize,
And even to a clown. Now roves the eye ;
And, posted on this speculative height,
Exults in its command. The sheep-fold here
Pours out its fleecy tenants o'er the glebe.
At first, progressive as a stream, they seek
The middle field ; but, scatter'd by degrees,
Each to his choice, soon whiten all the land.
There, from the sun-burnt hay-field, homeward creeps
The loaded wain ; while, lighten'd of its charge,
The wain that meets it passes swiftly by ;
The boorish driver leaning o'er his team
Vocif'rous, and impatient of delay.
Nor less attractive is the woodland scene,
Diversified with trees of ev'ry growth,
Alike, yet various. Here the gray smooth trunks
Of ash, or lime, or beech, distinctly shine,
Within the twilight of their distant shades ;
There, lost behind a rising ground, the wood
Seems sunk, and shorten’d to its topmost boughs.
No tree in all the grove but has its charms,
Though each its hue peculiar ; paler some,
And of a wannish gray; the willow such,
And poplar, that with silver lines his leaf,
And ash far-stretching his umbrageous arm ;
Of deeper green the elm; and deeper still,
Lord of the woods, the long-surviving oak.
Some glossy-leav'd, and shining in the sun,
The maple, and the beech of oily nuts
Prolific, and the lime at dewy eve
Diffusing odours: nor unnoted pass
The sycamore, capricious in attire,
Now green, now tawny, and, ere autumn yet
Have chang'd the woods, in scarlet honours bright.
O’er these, but far beyond (a spacious map
Of hill and valley interpos'd between)
The Ouse, dividing the well-water'd land,
Now glitters in the sun, and now retires,
As bashful, yet impatient to be seen.
Hence the declivity is sharp and short,
And such the re-ascent; between them weeps
A little naiad her impov'rish'd urn
All summer long, which winter fills again.
The folded gates would bar my progress now,
But that the lord* of this enclos'd demesne,
Communicative of the good he owns,
Admits me to a share ; the guiltless eye
Commits no wrong, nor wastes what it enjoys.
Refreshing change! where now the blazing sun?
By short transition we have lost his glare,
And stepp'd at once into a cooler clime.
Ye fallen avenues ! once more I mourn
* See the foregoing note.
Your fate unmerited, once more rejoice
That yet a remnant of your race survives.
How airy and how light the graceful arch,
Yet awful as the consecrated roof
Re-echoing pious anthems ! while beneath
The chequer'd earth seems restless as a flood
Brush'd by the wind. So sportive is the light
Shot through the boughs, it dances as they dance,
Shadow and sunshine intermingling quick,
And dark’ning and enlightning, as the leaves
Play wanton, ev'ry moment, ev'ry spot.
And now, with nerves new brac'd and spirits
We tread the wilderness, whose well-roll'd walks,
With curvature of slow and easy sweep-
Deception innocent-give ample space
To narrow bounds. The grove receives us next;
Between the upright shafts of whose tall elms
We may discern the thresher at his task.
Thump after thump resounds the constant flail,
That seems to swing uncertain, and yet falls
Full on the destin'd ear. Wide flies the chaff.
The rustling straw sends up a frequent mist
Of atoms, sparkling in the noon-day beam.
Come hither, ye that press your beds of down,
And sleep not: see him sweating o'er his bread
Before he eats it.—'Tis the primal curse,
But soften'd into mercy; made the pledge
Of cheerful days, and nights without a groan..