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to him than even the first part, it was a very feeble performance, and has sunk into total neglect.
Gay, in the latter part of his life, received the kind patronage of the Duke and Duchess of Queens berry, who took him into their house, and condescended to manage his pecuniary concerns. At this time he employed such intervals of health and spirits Vas he enjoyed, in writing his “ Acis and Galatea,” an opera called “ Achilles,” and a “ Serenata.” His death took place in 1732, at the early age of forty-four, in consequence of an inflammation of the bowels. He was sincerely lamented by his friends; and his memory was honoured by a monument in Westminster Abbey, and an epitaph in a strain of uncommon sensibility by Pope.
Inscribed to Mr. Pope, 1713. *
Securi prælia ruris
CANTO I. You, who the sweets of rural life have known, Despise th' ungrateful hurry of the town; In Windsor groves your easy hours employ, And, undisturb’d, yourself and Muse enjoy. Thames listens to thy strains, and silent flows, And no rude wind through rustling osiers blows, While all his wondering nymphs around thee
throng, To hear the Syrens warble in thy song.
But I, who ne'er was blest by Fortune's hand, Nor brighten'd ploughshares in paternal land, Long in the noisy town have been immur'd, Respir'd its smoke, and all its cares endur'd; Where news and politics divide mankind, And schemes of state involve th' uneasy mind : Faction embroils the world; and every tongue Is mov'd by flattery, or with scandal hung :
* This poem received many material corrections from the author, after it was first published.
Friendship, for sylvan shades, the palace flies,
Where all must yield to interest's dearer ties :
Each rival Machiavel with envy burns,
And honesty forsakes them all by turns;
While calumny upon each party's thrown,
Which both promote, and both alike disown.
Fatigu'd at last, a calm retreat I chose,
And sooth'd my harass'd mind with sweet repose,
Where fields and shades, and the refreshing clime,
Inspire the sylvan song, and prompt my rhyme.
My Muse shall rove through flowery meads and
And deck with rural sports her native strains ;
And the same road ambitiously pursue,
Frequented by the Mantuan swain and you.
'Tis not that rural sports alone invite,
But all the grateful country breathes delight ;
Here blooming Health exerts her gentle reign,
And strings the sinews of th' industrious swain.
Soon as the morning lark salutes the day,
Through dewy fields I take my frequent way,
Where I behold the farmer's early care
In the revolving labours of the year.
When the fresh Spring in all her state is crown'd,
And high luxuriant grass o'erspreads the ground,
The labourer with a bending scythe is seen,
Shaving the surface of the waving green ;
Of all her native pride disrobes the land,
And meads lays waste before his sweeping hand;
While with the mounting Sun the meadow glows,
The fading herbage round he loosely throws :
But, if some sign portend a lasting shower,
Th' experienc'd swain foresees the coming hour;
His sun-burnt hands the scattering fork forsake,
And ruddy damsels ply the saving rake;
In rising hills the fragrant harvest grows,
And spreads along the field in equal rows. [gains,
Now when the height of Heaven bright Phoebus
And level rays cleave wide the thirsty plains,
When heifers seek the shade and cooling lake,
And in the middle path-way basks the snake:
O lead me, guard me, from the sultry hours,
Hide me, ye forests, in your closest bowers,
Where the tall oak his spreading arms entwines,
And with the beech a mutual shade combines;
Where flows the murmu brook, inviting dreams,
Where bordering hazle overhangs the streams,
Whose rolling current, winding round and round,
With frequent falls makes all the woods resound;
Upon the mossy couch my limbs I cast,
And e'en at noon the sweets of evening taste.
Here I peruse the Mantuan's Georgic strains, And learn the labours of Italian swains; In every page I see new landscapes rise, And all Hesperia opens to my eyes ; I wander o'er the various rural toil, And know the nature of each different soil : This waving field is gilded o'er with corn, That spreading trees with blushing fruit adorn: Here I survey the purple vintage grow, Climb round the poles, and rise in graceful row: Now I behold the steed curvet and bound, And paw with restless hoof the smoking ground:
The dewlap'd bull now chafes along the plain,
While burning love ferments in every vein;
His well-arm’d front against his rival aims,
And by the dint of war his mistress claims :
The careful insect 'midst his works I view,
Now from the flowers exhaust the fragrant dew;
With golden treasures load his little thighs,
And steer his distant journey through the skies ;
Some against hostile drones the hive defend,
Others with sweets the waxen cells distend,
Each in the toil his destin'd office bears,
And in the little bulk a mighty soul appears.
Or when the ploughman leaves the task of day,
And trudging homeward, whistles on the way ;
When the big-udder'd cows with patience stand,
Waiting the strokings of the damsel's hand;
No warbling cheers the woods; the feather'd choir,
To court kind slumbers, to the sprays retire :
When no rude gale disturbs the sleeping trees,
Nor aspen leaves confess the gentlest breeze;
Engag'd in thought, to Neptune's bounds I stray,
To take my farewell of the parting day;
Far in the deep the Sun his glory hides,
A streak of gold the sea and sky divides :
The purple clouds their amber linings show,
And, edg'd with flame, rolls every wave below:
Here pensive I behold the fading light,
And o'er the distant billow lose my sight.
Now Night in silent state begins to rise,
And twinkling orbs bestrow th' uncloudy skies;
Her borrow'd lustre growing Cynthia lends,
And on the main a glittering path extends;