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Flower of his dear-loved native land 1
Alas, when distant far more dear!
When he from some cold foreign strand,
Looks homeward through the blinding tear,
How must his aching heart deplore,
That home and thee he sees no more 1
[The Highland Poor.] [From Mrs Grant's poem of “The Highlander.]
Where yonder ridgy mountains bound the scene,
The narrow opening glens that intervene
Still shelter, in some lowly nook obscure,
One poorer than the rest—where all are poor;
Some widowed matron, hopeless of relief,
Who to her secret breast confines her grief;
Dejected sighs the wintry night away,
And lonely muses all the summer day:
Her gallant sons, who, smit with honour's charms,
Pursued the phantom Fame through war's alarms,
Return no more; stretched on Hindostan's plain,
Or sunk beneath the unfathomable main;
In vain her eyes the watery waste explore
For heroes—fated to return no more
Let others bless the morning's reddening beam,
Foe to her peace—it breaks the illusive dream
That, in their prime of manly bloom confest,
Restored the long-lost warriors to her breast;
And as they strove, with smiles of filial love,
Their widowed parent's anguish to remove,
Through her small casement broke the intrusive day,
And chased the pleasing images away!
No time can e'er her banished joys restore,
For ah! a heart once broken heals no more.
The dewy beams that gleam from pity's eye,
The ‘still small voice’ of sacred sympathy,
In vain the mourner's sorrows would beguile,
Or steal from weary wo one languid smile;
Yet what they can they do—the scanty store,
So often opened for the wandering poor,
To her each cottager complacent deals,
While the kind glance the melting heart reveals;
And still, when evening streaks the west with gold,
The milky tribute from the lowing fold
With cheerful haste officious children bring,
And every smiling flower that decks the spring:
Ah! little know the fond attentive train,
That spring and flowerets smile for her in vain:
Yet hence they learn to reverence modest wo,
And of their little all a part bestow.
Let those to wealth and proud distinction born,
With the cold glance of insolence and scorn
Regard the suppliant wretch, and harshly grieve
The bleeding #. their bounty would relieve :
Far different these ; while from a bounteous heart
With the poor sufferer they divide a part;
Humbly they own that all they have is given
A boon precarious from indulgent Heaven:
And the next blighted crop or frosty spring,
Themselves to equal indigence may bring.
Gently ascending from a silvery flood, Above the palace rose the shaded hill, The lofty eminence was crowned with wood, And the rich lawns, adorned by nature's skill, The passing breezes with their odours fill; Here ever-blooming groves of orange glow, And here all flowers, which from their leaves distil Ambrosial dew, in sweet succession blow, And trees of matchless size a fragrant shade bestow.
The sun looks glorious 'mid a sky serene, And bids bright lustre sparkle o'er the tide; The clear blue ocean at a distance seen, Bounds the gay landscape on the western side, While closing round it with majestic pride, The lofty rocks mid citron groves arise; ‘Sure some divinity must here reside,” As tranced in some bright vision, Psyche cries, And scarce believes the bliss, or trusts her charmed eyes. When lo l a voice divinely sweet she hears, From unseen lips proceeds the heavenly sound; “Psyche approach, dismiss thy timid fears, At length his bride thy longing spouse has found, And bids for thee immortal joys abound ; For thee the palace rose at his command, For thee his love a bridal banquet crowned ; He bids attendant nymphs around thee stand, Prompt every wish to serve—a fond obedient band.’
Increasing wonder filled her ravished soul, For now the pompous portals opened wide, There, pausing oft, with timid foot she stole Through halls high-domed, enriched with sculptured pride, While gay saloons appeared on either side, In splendid vista opening to her sight; And all with precious gems so beautified, And furnished with such exquisite delight, That scarce the beams of heavenemit such lustrebright.
The amethyst was there of violet hue, And there the topaz shed its golden ray, The chrysoberyl, and the sapphire blue As the clear azure of a sunny day, Or the mild eyes where amorous glances play; The snow-white jasper, and the opal's flame, The blushing ruby, and the agate gray, And there the gem which bears his luckless name Whose death, by Phoebus mourned, insured him deathless fame. There the green emerald, there cornelians glow, And rich carbuncles pour eternal light, With all that India and Peru can show, Or Labrador can give so flaming bright To the charmed mariner's half-dazzled sight: The coral-paved baths with diamonds blaze; And all that can the female heart delight Offair attire, the last recess displays, And all that luxury can ask, her eye surveys.
Now through the hall melodious music stole, And self-prepared the splendid banquet stands, Self-poured the nectar sparkles in the bowl, The lute and viol, touched by unseen hands, Aid the soft voices of the choral bands; O'er the full board a brighter lustre beams Than Persia's monarch at his feast commands: For sweet refreshment all inviting seems To taste celestial food, and pure ambrosial streams.
But when meek eve hung out her dewy star, And gently veiled with gradual hand the sky, Lo the bright folding doors retiring far, Display to Psyche's captivated eye All that voluptuous ease could e'er supply To soothe the spirits in serene repose: Beneath the velvet's purple canopy, Divinely formed, a downy couch arose, While alabaster lamps a milky light disclose.
The careless eye can find no grace, No beauty in the scaly folds,
Nor see within the dark embrace What latent loveliness it holds.
Yet in that bulb, those sapless scales,
The lily wraps her silver vest,
Till vernal suns and vernal gales
Shall kiss once more her fragrant breast.
Yes, hide beneath the mouldering heap
The undelighting slighted thing;
There in the cold earth buried deep,
In silence let it wait the spring.
Oh! many a stormy night shall close In gloom upon the barren earth,
While still, in undisturbed repose, Uninjured lies the future birth:
And Ignorance, with sceptic eye,
Hope's patient smile shall wondering view:
Or mock her fond credulity,
As her soft tears the spot bedev.
Sweet smile of hope, delicious tear!
The sun, the shower indeed shall come;
The promised verdant shoot appear,
And nature bid her blossoms bloom.
And thou, O virgin queen of spring !
Shalt, from thy dark and lowly bed,
Bursting thy green sheath's silken string,
Unveil thy charms, and perfume shed;
Unfold thy robes of purest white,
Unsullied from their darksome grave,
And thy soft petals' silvery light
In the mild breeze unfettered wave.
So Faith shall seek the lowly dust
Where humble Sorrow loves to lie,
And bid her thus her hopes intrust,
And watch with patient, cheerful eye;
And bear the long, cold wintry night,
And bear her own degraded doom;
And wait till Heaven's reviving light,
Eternal spring! shall burst the gloom.
Robert Bloom FIELD, author of The Farmer's Boy, and other poems illustrative of English rural life and customs, was born at Honington, near Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, in the year 1766. His father, a tailor, died whilst the poet was a child, and he was placed under his uncle, a farmer. Here he remained only two years, being too weak and diminutive for field labour, and he was taken to London by an elder brother, and brought up to the trade of a shoemaker. His two years of country service, and occasional visits to his friends in Suffolk, were of inestimable importance to him as a poet, for they afforded materials for his ‘Farmer's Boy,” and gave a freshness and reality to his descriptions. It was in the shoemaker's garret, however, that his poetry was chiefly composed; and the merit of introducing it to the world belongs to Mr Capel Lofft, a literary gentleman residing at Troston, near Bury, to whom the manuscript was shown, after being rejected by several London booksellers. Mr Lofft warmly befriended the poet, and had the satisfaction of seeing his prognostications of successfully verified. At this time Bloomfield was thirty-two years of age, was married, and had three children. The “Farmer's Boy' immediately became popular; the Duke of Grafton patronised the poet, settling on * fo
small annuity, and through the influence of this nobleman he was appointed to a situation in the Seal-office. In 1810 Bloomfield published a collection of Rural Tales, which fully supported his reputation; and to these were afterwards added Wild Flowers, Hazlewood Hall, a village drama, and May
Austin's Farm, the early residence of Bloomfield.
day with the Muses. The last was published in the year of his death, and opens with a fine burst of poetical, though melancholy feeling—
0 for the strength to paint my joy once more!
That joy I feel when winter's reign is o'er;
When the dark despot lifts his hoary brow,
And seeks his polar realm's eternal snow :
Though bleak November's fogs oppress my brain,
Shake every nerve, and struggling fancy chain;
Though time creeps o'er me with his palsied hand,
And #. bids the stream of passion stand.
The worldly circumstances of the author seem to have been such as to confirm the common idea as to the infelicity of poets. His situation in the Sealoffice was irksome and laborious, and he was forced to resign it from ill health. He engaged in the bookselling business, but was unsuccessful. In his | latter years he resorted to making Æolian harps, which he sold among his friends. We have been | informed by the poet's son (a modest and intelligent man, a printer), that Mr Rogers exerted himself to procure a pension for Bloomfield, and Mr Southey also took much interest in his welfare; but his last days were imbittered by ill health and poverty. So severe were the sufferings of Bloomfield from continual headache and nervous irritability, that fears were entertained for his reason, when, happily, death | stepped in, and released him from ‘the world's poor strife.” He died at Shefford, in Bedfordshire, on the 19th of August 1823. The first remarkable feature in the poetry of this humble bard is the easy smooth| ness and correctness of his versification. His ear was attuned to harmony, and his taste to the beauties of expression, before he had learned anything of
criticism, or had enjoyed opportunities for study. This may be seen from the opening of his principal poem:—
O come, blest Spirit ! whatsoe'er thou art,
Thou kindling warmth that hover'st round my heart;
Sweet inmate, hail! thou source of sterling joy, -
That poverty itself can not destroy,
Be thou my Muse, and faithful still to me,
Retrace the steps of wild obscurity.
No deeds of arms my humble lines rehearse;
No Alpine wonders thunder through my verse,
The roaring cataract, the snow-topt hill,
Inspiring awe till breath itself stands still:
Nature's sublimer scenes ne'er charmed mine eyes,
Nor science led me through the boundless skies;
From meaner objects far my raptures flow:
0 point these raptures' bid my bosom glow,
And lead my soul to ecstacies of praise
For all the blessings of my infant days
Bear me through regions where gay Fancy dwells;
But mould to Truth's fair form what memory tells.
Live, trifling incidents, and grace my song,
That to the humblest menial belong:
To him whose drudgery unheeded goes,
His joys unreckoned, as his cares or woes:
Though joys and cares in every path are sown,
And youthful minds have feelings of their own,
Quick-springing sorrows, transient as the dew,
Delights from trifles, trifles ever new.
‘Twas thus with Giles, meek, fatherless, and poor,
Labour his portion, but he felt no more;
No stripes, no tyranny his steps pursued,
His life was constant cheerful servitude;
Strange to the world, he wore a bashful look,
The fields his study, nature was his book;
And as revolving seasons changed the scene
From heat to cold, tempestuous to serene,
Through every change still varied his employ,
Yet each new duty brought its share of joy.
It is interesting to contrast the cheerful tone of Bloomfield's descriptions of rural life in its hardest and least inviting forms, with those of Crabbe, also a native of Suffolk. Both are true, but coloured with the respective peculiarities, in their style of observation and feeling, of the two poets. Bloomfield describes the various occupations of a farm boy in seed-time, at harvest, tending cattle and sheep, and other occupations. In his tales, he embodies more moral feeling and painting, and his incidents are pleasing and well arranged. His want of vigour and passion, joined to the humility of his themes, is perhaps the cause of his being now little read; but he is one of the most characteristic and faithful of our national poets.
The farmer's life displays in every part
A moral lesson to the sensual heart.
Though in the lap of plenty, thoughtful still,
He looks beyond the present good or ill;
Nor estimates alone one blessing's worth,
From changeful seasons, or capricious earth !
But views the future with the present hours,
And looks for failures as he looks for showers; |
For casual as for certain want prepares,
And round his yard the reeking haystack rears;
Or clover, blossomed lovely to the sight,
His team's rich store through many a wintry night.
What though abundance round his dwelling spreads,
Though ever moist his self-improving meads
Supply his dairy with a copious flood,
And seem to promise unexhausted food;
That promise fails when buried deep in snow,
And vegetative juices cease to flow.
For this his plough turns up the destined lands,
Whence stormy winter draws its full demands;
For this the seed minutely small he sows,
Whence, sound and sweet, the hardy turnip grows.
But how unlike to April's closing days
High climbs the sun and darts his powerful rays;
Whitens the fresh-drawn mould, and pierces through
The cumbrous clods that tumble round the plough.
O'er heaven's bright azure, hence with joyful eyes
The farmer sees dark clouds assembling rise;
Borne o'er his fields a heavy torrent falls,
And strikes the earth in hasty driving squalls.
“Right welcome down, ye precious drops,’ he cries;
But soon, too soon, the partial blessing flies.
“Boy, bring the harrows, try how deep the rain
He comes, but comes in vain;
Dry dust beneath the bubbling surface lurks,
And mocks his pains the more the more he works.
Still, ‘midst huge clods, he plunges on forlorn,
That laugh his harrows and the showers to scorn.
E’en thus the living clod, the stubborn fool,
Resists the stormy lectures of the school,
Till tried with gentler means, the dunce to please,
His head imbibes right reason by degrees;
As when from eve till morning's wakeful hour,
Light constant rain evinces secret power,
And, ere the day resumes its wonted smiles,
Presents a cheerful easy task for Giles.
Down with a touch the mellow soil is laid,
And yon tall crop next claims his timely aid ;
Thither well-pleased he hies, assured to find
Wild trackless haunts, and objects to his mind.
Shut up from broad rank blades that droop below,
The nodding wheat-ear forms a graceful bow,
With milky kernels starting full weighed down,
Ere yet the sun hath tinged its head with brown :
There thousands in a flock, for ever gay,
Loud chirping sparrows welcome in the day,
And from the mazes of the leafy thorn
Drop one by one upon the bending corn.
Giles with a pole assails their close retreats,
And round the grass-grown dewy border beats,
On either side completely overspread,
Here branches bend, there corn o'erstoops his head.
Green covert hail! for through the varying year
No hours so sweet, no scene to him so dear.
Here Wisdom's placid eye delighted sees
His frequent intervals of lonely ease,
And with one ray his infant soul inspires,
Just kindling there her never-dying fires.
Whence solitude derives peculiar charms,
And heaven-directed thought his bosom warms.
Just where the parting bough's light shadows play,
Scarce in the shade, nor in the scorching day,
Stretched on the turf he lies, a peopled bed,
Where swarming insects creep around his head.
The small dust-coloured beetle climbs with pain
O'er the smooth plantain leaf, a spacious plain
Thence higher still, by countless steps conveyed,
He gains the summit of a shivering blade,
And flirts his filmy wings, and looks around,
Exulting in his distance from the ground.
The tender speckled moth here dancing seen,
The vaulting grasshopper of glossy green,
And all prolific Summer's sporting train,
Their little lives by various powers sustain.
But what can unassisted vision do?
What but recoil where most it would pursue;
His patient gaze but finish with a sigh,
When Music waking speaks the skylark nigh.
Just starting from the corn, he cheerily sings,
And trusts with conscious pride his downy wings;
Still louder breathes, and in the face of day
Mounts up, and calls on Giles to mark his way.
Close to his eyes his hat he instant bends,
And forms a friendly telescope, that lends
Just aid enough to dull the glaring light,
And place the wandering bird before his sight,
That oft beneath a light cloud sweeps along,
Lost for a while, yet pours the varied song;
The eye still follows, and the cloud moves by,
Again he stretches up the clear blue sky;
His form, his motion, undistinguished quite,
Save when he wheels direct from shade to light:
E’en then the songster a mere speck became,
Gliding like fancy's bubbles in a dream,
The gazer sees; but yielding to repose,
Unwittingly his jaded eyelids close.
Delicious sleep ! From sleep who could forbear,
With guilt no more than Giles, and no more care;
Peace o'er his slumbers waves her guardian wing,
Nor Conscience once disturbs him with a sting;
He wakes refreshed from every trivial pain,
And takes his pole, and brushes round again.
Its dark green hue, its sicklier tints all fail,
And ripening harvest rustles in the gale.
A glorious sight, if glory dwells below,
Where heaven's munificence makes all things show,
O'er every field and golden prospect found,
That glads the ploughman's Sunday morning's 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 astonish more,
Where the charmed 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 joined.
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.
Hark! where the sweeping scythe now rips along; |
Each sturdy mower, emulous and strong,
Whose writhing form meridian heat defies,
Bends o'er his work, and every sinew tries;
Prostrates the waving treasure at his feet,
But spares the rising clover, short and sweet.
Come Health ! come Jollity light-footed come;
Here hold your revels, and make this your home.
Each heart awaits and hails you as its own ;
Each moistened brow that scorns to wear a frown:
The unpeopled dwelling mourns its tenants strayed:
E’en the domestic laughing dairymaid
Hies to the field the general toil to share.
Meanwhile the farmer quits his elbow-chair,
His cool brick floor, his.pitcher, and his ease,
And braves the sultry beams, and gladly sees
His gates thrown open, and his team abroad,
The ready group attendant on his word
To turn the swath, the quivering load to rear,
Or ply the busy rake the land to clear.
Summer's light garb itself now cumbrous grown,
Each his thin doublet in the shade throws down:
Where oft the mastiff skulks with half-shut eye,
And rouses at the stranger passing by;
While unrestrained the social converse flows,
And every breast Love's powerful impulse knows,
And rival wits with more than rustic grace
Confess the presence of a pretty face.