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My numbers that day she had sung,
And gave them a grace so divine,
As only her musical tongue
Could infuse into numbers of mine.
The longer I heard, I esteem'd
The work of my fancy the more,
And ev'n to myself never seem'd
So tuneful a poet before.
Though the pleasures of London exceed
In number the days of the year, Catharina, did nothing impede,
Would feel herself happier liere; For the close-woven arches of limes,
On the banks of our river, I know, Are sweeter to her many times,
Than all that the city can show.
So it is, when the mind is endued
With a well-judging taste from above ; Then, whether embellish'd or rude,
"Tis Nature alone that we love. The achievements of art may amuse,
May ev'n our wonder excite,
But groves, hills, and valleys, diffuse
A lasting, a sacred delight.
Since then in the rural recess
Catharina alone can rejoice, May it still be her lot to possess
The scene of her sensible choice ! To inhabit a mansion remote
From the clatter of street-pacing steeds, And by Philomel's annual note
To measure the life that she leads.
With her book, and her voice, and her lyre,
To wing all her moments at home; And with scenes that new rapture inspire
As oft as it suits her to roam;
She will have just the life she prefers,
With little to wish or to fear;
And ours will be pleasant as hers,
Might we view her enjoying it here.
A TRUCE to thought! and let us o'er the fields,
Across the down, or through the shelving wood,
Wind our uncertain way. Let Fancy lead,
And be it ours to follow, and admire,
As well we may,
Of Nature. Lay aside the sweet resource
That winter needs, and may at will obtain,
Of authors chaste and good, and let us read
The living page, whose ev'ry character
Delights, and gives us wisdom. Not a tree,
A plant, a leaf, a blossom, but contains
A folio volume: We may read, and read,
And read again, and still find something new,
Something to please, and something to instruct,
E'en in the noisome weed. See, ere we pass
Alcanor's threshold, to the curious eye
A little monitor presents her page
Of choice instruction with her
The Lily of the vale. She nor affects
The public walk, nor gaze of mid-day Sun:
She to no state or dignity aspires;
But silent and alone puts on her suit,
And sheds her lasting perfume, but for which
We had not known there was a thing so sweet
Hid in the gloomy shade. So when the blast
Her sister tribes confounds, and to the earth
Stoops their high heads, that vainly were expos'd,
She feels it not, but flourishes anew,
Still shelter'd and secure. And so the storm,
That makes the high elm couch, and rends the oak,
The humble lily spares.
A thousand blows, That shake the lofty monarch on his throne, We lesser folks feel not. Keen are the pains Advancement often brings. To be secure, Be humble; to be happy, be content.
But come, we loiter. Pass unnotic'd by
The sleepy Crocus, and the staring Daisy,
The courtier of the sun. What see we there?
The lovesick Cowslip, that her head inclines,
To hide a bleeding heart. And here's the meek
And soft-ey'd Primrose. Dandelion this,
A col.ege youth, that flashes for a day
All gold; anon he doffs his gaudy suit,
Touch'd by the magic hand of some grave bisliop,
And all at once, by commutation strange,
Becomes a Reverend Divine.
The melancholy Hyacinth, that weeps
All night, and never lifts an eye all day.
How gay this meadow-like a gamesome boy
New cloth’d, his locks fresh comb’d and powder'd, he
All health and spirits. Scarce so many stars
Shine in the azure canopy of Heav'n,
As kingcups here are scatter'd, interspers'd
With silver daisies.
See, the toiling swain With many a sturdy stroke cuts up at last The tough and sinewy furze.' How hard he fought, To win the glory of the barren waste ! For what more noble than the vernal furze. With golden baskets hung: Approach it not, For ev'ry blossom has a troop of swords Drawn to defend it. 'Tis the treasury Of Fays and Fairies. Here they nightly meet, Each with a burnish'd kingcup in his hand, And quaff the subtile ether. Here they dance Or to the village chimes, or moody song Of midnight Philomel. The ringlet see Fantastically trod. There Oberon His gallant train leads out, the while his torch
The glowworm lights, and dusky night illumes ;
And there they foot it featly round, and laugh.
The sacred spot the superstitious ewe
Regards, and bites it not in reverence.
Anon the drowsy clock tolls One—the cock
His clarion sounds—the dance breaks off—the lights
Are quench’d—the music hush'd—they speed away
Swifter than thought, and still the break of day
Outrun, and chasing Midnight as she flies,
Pursue her round the globe. So Fancy weaves
Her flimsy web, while sober Reason sits,
And smiling wonders at the puny work,
A net for her; then springs on eagle wing,
Constraint defies, and soars above the sun.
But mark with how peculiar grace yon wood,
That clothes the weary steep, waves in the breeze
Her sea of leaves; thither we turn our steps,
And by the way attend the cheerful sound
Of woodland harmony, that always fills
The merry vale between. How sweet the song
Day's harbinger attunes ! I have not heard
Such elegant divisions drawn from art.
And what is he that wins our admiration ?
A little speck that floats upon the sunbeam.
What vast perfection
cannot Nature crowd
Into a puny point! The nightingale,
Her solo anthem sung, and all that heard,
Content, joins in the chorus of the day,
She, gentle heart, thinks it no pain to please,
Nor, like the moody songsters of the world,
Just shows her talent, pleases, takes affront,
And locks it
I love to see the little goldfinch pluck
The groundsel's feather'd seed, and twit, and twit;
And then, in bow'r of apple blossoms perch'd,
Trim his gay suit, and pay us with a song.
I would not hold him pris'ner for the world.
The chimney haunting swallow, too, my eye.
And ear well pleases. I delight to see
How suddenly lie skims the glassy pool,
How quaintly dips, and with a bullet's speed
Whisks by. I love to be awake, and hear
His morning song twitter'd to young-ey'd day.
But most of all it wins
To view the structure of this little work,
A bird's nest. Mark it well, within, without.
No tool had he that wrought, no knife to cut,
No nail to fix, no bodkip to insert,
No glue to join; his little beak was all.
And yet how neatly finish'd. What nice hand,
With ev'ry implement and means of art,
And twenty years' apprenticeship to boot,
Could make me such another? Fondly then
We boast of excellence, whose noblest skill
Instinctive genius foils.
The bee observe ; She too an artist is, and laughs at man, Who calls on rules the sightly hexagon With truth to form ; a cunning architect, That at the roof begins her golden work, And builds without foundation. How she toils, And still from bad to bud, from flow'r to flow'r, Travels the livelong day. Ye idle drones, That rather pilfer than your bread obtain By honest means like these, look here and learn How good, how fair, how honourable 'tis, To live by industry. The busy tribes Of bees so emulous are daily fed With Heav'n's peculiar manna.
"Tis for them, Unwearied alchymists, the blooming world Nectarious gold distils. And bounteous Heav'n, Still to the diligent and active good, Their very
labour makes the certain cause Of future wealth.
But see, the setting Sun Puts on a milder countenance, and skirts The undulated clouds, that cross his way With glory visible. His axle cools,
his broad disk, though fervent, not intense,