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Their length and colour from the locks they spare;
The elastic spring of an unwearied foot,
That mounts the stile with ease, or leaps the fence,
And now the turnpike gates again
Flew open in short space;
The toll-men thinking as before
That Gilpin rode a race.
And so he did, and won it too,
For he got first to town;
Nor stopped till where he had got up
He did again get down.
Now let us sing, long live the king,
And Gilpin long live he;
And, when he next doth ride abroad, May I be there to see!
ON RURAL SIGHTS AND SOUNDS. The nurse sleeps sweetly, hired to watch the sick, Whom snoring she disturbs. As sweetly he, Who quits the coach-box at the midnight hour To sleep within the carriage more secure, His legs depending at the open door. Sweet sleep enjoys the curate in his desk, The tedious rector drawling over his head; And sweet the clerk below. But neither sleep Of lazy nurse, who snores the sick man dead, Nor his, who quits the box at midnight hour To slumber in the carriage more secure, Nor sleep enjoyed by curate in his desk, Nor yet the dozings of the clerk, are sweet, Compared with the repose the sofa yields.
Oh may I live exempted (while I live
Guiltless of pampered appetite obscene)
From pangs arthritic, that infest the toe
Of libertine excess. The sofa suits
The gouty limb, 'tis true; but gouty limb,
Though on a sofa, may I never feel:
For I have loved the rural walk through lanes
Of grassy swarth, close cropt by nibbling sheep,
And skirted thick with intertexture firm
Of thorny boughs; have loved the rural walk
O'er hills, through vallies, and by rivers' brink,
E'er since a truant boy I passed my bounds
To enjoy a ramble on the banks of Thames;
And still remember, nor without regret
Of hours, that sorrow since has much endeared:
How oft, my slice of pocket store consumed,
Still hungering, pennyless, and far from home,
I fed on scarlet hips and stony haws,
Or blushing crabs, or berries, that imboss
The bramble, black as jet, or sloes austere.
Hard fare! but such as boyish appetite
Disdains not; nor the palate, undepraved
By culinary arts, unsavory deems.
No sofa then awaited my return;
Nor sofa then I needed. Youth repairs
His wasted spirits quickly, by long toil
Incurring short fatigue; and, though our years,
As life declines, speed rapidly away,
And not a year but pilfers as he goes
Some youthful grace, that age would gladly keep,
A tooth or auburn lock; and by degrees
That play of lungs, inhaling and again
Respiring freely the fresh air, that makes
Swift pace or steep ascent no toil to me,
Mine have not pilfered yet; nor yet impaired
My relish of fair prospect; scenes that soothed
Or charmed me young, no longer young, I find
Still soothing, and of power to charm me still.
And witness, dear companiou of my walks,
Whose arm this twentieth winter I perceive
Fast locked in mine, with pleasure such as love,
Confirmed by long experience of thy worth
And well-tried virtues, could alone inspire-
Witness a joy that thou hast doubled long.
Thou knowest my praise of nature most sincere,
And that my raptures are not conjured up
To serve occasions of poetic pomp,
But genuine, and art partner of them all.
How oft upon yon eminence our pace
Has slackened to a pause, and we have borne
The ruffling wind, scarce conscious that it blew,
While admiration, feeding at the eye,
And still unsated, dwelt upon the scene.
Thence with what pleasure have we just discerned
The distant plough still moving, and beside
His labouring team, that swerved not from the track,
The sturdy swain diminished to a boy!
Here Ouse, slow winding through a level plain
Of spacious meads with cattle sprinkled o'er,
Conducts the eye along his sinuous course
Delighted. There, fast rooted in their bank,
Stand, never overlooked, our favourite elms,
That screen the herdsman's solitary hut;
While far beyond, and overthwart the stream
That, as with molten glass, inlays the vale,
The sloping land recedes into the clouds;
Displaying on its varied side the grace
Of hedge-row beauties numberless, square tower,
Tall spire, from which the sound of cheerful bells
Just undulates upon the listening ear,
Groves, heaths, and smoking villages, remote.
Scenes must be beautiful, which daily viewed
Please daily, and whose novelty survives
Long knowledge and the scrutiny of years;
Praise justly due to those that I describe.
Nor rural sights alone, but rural sounds,
Exhilirate the spirit, and restore
The tone of languid Nature. Mighty winds,
That sweep the skirt of some far-spreading wood
Of ancient growth, make music not unlike
The dash of ocean on his winding shore,
And lull the spirit while they fill the mind;
Unnumbered branches waving in the blast,
And all their leaves fast fluttering, all at once.
Nor less composure waits upon the roar
Of distant floods, or on the softer voice
Of neighbouring fountain, or of rills that slip
Through the cleft rock, and, chiming as they fall
Upon loose pebbles, lose themselves at length
In matted grass, that with a livelier green
Betrays the secret of their silent course.
Nature inanimate employs sweet sounds,
But animated nature sweeter still,
To soothe and satisfy the human ear.
Ten thousand warblers cheer the day, and one
The livelong night: nor these alone, whose notes
Nice-fingered art must emulate in vain,
But cawing rooks, and kites that swim sublime
In still repeated circles, screaming loud,
The jay, the pie, and even the boding owl,
That hails the rising moon, have charms for me.
Sounds inharmonious in themselves and harsh,
Yet heard in scenes where peace for ever reigns,
And only there, please highly for their sake.
ON THE TOWN AND COUNTRY. Hence the declivity is sharp and short, And such the re-ascent; between them weeps A little naiad her impoverished urn All summer long, which winter fills again. The folded gates would bar my progress now, But that the lord of this enclosed 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 stepped at once into a cooler clime. Ye fallen avenues! once more I mourn 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 chequered earth seems restless as a flood Brushed by the wind. So sportive is the light Shot through the boughs, it dances as they dance, Shadow and sunshine intermingling quick, And darkening and enlightening, as the leaves Play wanton, every moment, every spot. [cheered,
And now, with nerves new-braced and spirits We tread the wilderness, whose well-rolled walks, With curvature of slow and easy sweepDeception 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 destined 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 softened into mercy; made the pledge
Of cheerful days, and nights without a groan.
By ceaseless action all that is subsists.
Constant rotation of the unwearied wheel
That nature rides upon maintains her health,
Her beauty; her fertility. She dreads
and lives but while she moves.
Its own revolvency upholds the world.
Winds from all quarters agitate the air,
And fit the limpid element for use,
Else noxious; oceans, rivers, lakes, and streams,
All feel the freshening impulse, and are cleansed
By restless undulation: even the oak
Thrives by the rude concussion of the storm:
He seems indeed indignant, and to feel
The impression of the blast with proud disdain,
Frowning, as if in his unconscious arm
He held the thunder: but the monarch owes
His firm stability to what he scorns,
More fixt below, the more disturbed above.
The law, by which all creatures else are bound,
Binds man the lord of all. Himself derives
No mean advantage from a kindred cause,
From strenuous toil his hours of sweetest ease.
The sedentary stretch their lazy length
When custom bids, but no refreshment find,
For none they need: the languid eye, the cheek
Deserted of its bloom, the flaccid, shrunk,
And withered muscle, and the vapid soul,
Reproach their owner with that love of rest,
To which he forfeits even the rest he loves.
Not such the alert and active. Measure life
By its true worth, the comforts it affords,
And theirs alone seems worthy of the name.
Good health, and, its associate in the most,
Good temper; spirits prompt to undertake,
And not soon spent, though in an arduous task;
The powers of fancy and strong thought are theirs;
Even age itself seems privileged in them,
With clear exemption from its own defects.
A sparkling eye beneath a wrinkled front
The veteran shows, and, gracing a gray beard
With youthful smiles, descends toward the grave
Sprightly, and old almost without decay.
Like a coy maiden, ease, when courted most,
Farthest retires-an idol, at whose shrine
Who oftenest sacrifice are favoured least.
The love of Nature, and the scenes she draws,
Is nature's dictate. Strange! there should be found,
Who, self-imprisoned in their proud saloons,
Renounce the odours of the open field
For the unscented fictions of the loom;
Who, satisfied with only pencilled scenes,
Prefer to the performance of a God
The inferior wonders of an artist's hand!
Lovely indeed the mimic works of art;
But Nature's works far lovelier. I admire,
None more admires the painter's magic skill,
Who shows me that which I shall never see,
Conveys a distant country into mine,
And throws Italian light on English walls;
But imitative strokes can do no more
Than please the eye-sweet Nature's every sense.
The air salubrious of her lofty hills,
The cheering fragrance of her dewy vales,
And music of her woods-no works of man
May rival these, these all bespeak a power
Peculiar, and exclusively her own.