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Now, sporting Muse, draw in the flowing reins, Leave the clear streams awhile for sunny plains. Should you the various arms and toils rehearse, And all the fisherman adorn thy verse ; Should you the wide encircling net display, And in its spacious arch enclose the sea ; Then haul the plunging load upon the land, And with the sole and turbot hide the sand ; It would extend the growing theme too long, And tire the reader with the watery song.
Let the keen hunter from the chase refrain, Nor render all the ploughman's labour vain, When Ceres pours out plenty from her horn, And clothes the fields with golden ears of corn. Now, now, ye reapers, to your task repair, Haste! save the product of the bounteous year: To the wide-gathering hook long furrows yield, And rising sheaves extend through all the field.
Yet, if for sylvan sports thy bosom glow,
deceitful air with empty jaws ;
What various sport does rural life afford !
Nor less the spaniel, skilful to betray,
Or when the country floats with sudden rains,
Nor must the sporting verse the gun forbear,
prey; The fluttering coveys from the stubble rise, And on swift wing divide the sounding skies ; The scattering lead pursues the certain sight, And death in thunder overtakes their flight. Cool breathes the morning air, and Winter's hand Spreads wide her mantle o'er the land; Now to the copse thy lesser spaniel take, Teach him to range the ditch, and force the brake ; Not closest coverts can protect the game : Hark! the dog opens ; take thy certain aim. The woodcock flutters; how he wavering fies! The wood resounds : he wheels, he drops, he dies.
The towering hawk let future poets sing, Who terrour bears upon his soaring wing: Let them on high the frighted hern survey, And lofty numbers point their airy fray. Nor shall the mounting lark the Muse detain, That greets the morning with his early strain ; When, ʼmidst his song, the twinkling glass betrays, While from each angle flash the glancing rays, And in the Sun the transient colours blaze, Pride lures the little warbler from the skies : The light-enamour'd bird deluded dies,
But still the chase, a pleasing task, remains ; The hound must open in these rural strains. Soon as Aurora drives away the night, And edges eastern clouds with rosy light, The healthy huntsman, with the cheerful horn, Summons the dogs, and greets the dappled morn; The jocund thunder wakes th' enliven'd hounds, They rouze from sleep, and answer sounds for
sounds; Wide through the furzy field their rout they take, Their bleeding bosoms force the thorny brake: The flying game their smoking nostrils trace, No bounding hedge obstructs their eager pace; The distant mountains echo from afar, And hanging woods resound the flying war : The tuneful noise the sprightly courser hears, Paws the green turf, and pricks his trembling ears; The slacken'd rein now gives him all his speed, Back flies the rapid ground beneath the steed ; Hills, dales, and forests, far behind remain, While the warm scent draws on the deep-mouth'd
train. Where shall the trembling hare a shelter find ? Hark! death advances in each gust of wind ! Now stratagems and doubling wiles she tries, Now circling turns, and now at large she flies; Till, spent at last, she pants, and heaves for breath, Then lays her down, and waits devouring death.
But stay, adventurous Muse ! hast thou the force To wind the twisted horn, to guide the horse ? To keep thy seat unmov’d, hast thou the skill, O’er the high gate, and down the headlong hill ?
Canst thou the stag's laborious chase direct,
O happy plains, remote from war's alarms,
What happiness the rural maid attends,