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Pleasures of a Country Life.
Patient of labour, with a little pleas'd;
Health ever blooming; unambitious toil;
Calm contemplation, and poetic ease.
Let others brave the flood in quest of gain,
And beat, for joyless months, the gloomy wave.
Let such as deem it glory to destroy,
Rush into blood, the sack of cities seek;
Unpierc'd, exulting in the widow's wail,
The virgin's shriek, and infant's trembling cry.
Let some, far distant from their native soil,
Urg'd or by want or hardened avarice,
Find other lands beneath another sun.
Let this through cities work his eager way,
By legal outrage and establish'd guile,
The social sense extinct; and that ferment
Mad into tumult the seditious herd,
Or melt them down to slavery. Let these
Insnare the wretched in the toils of law,
Fomenting discord, and perplexing right,
An iron race! and those of fairer front,
But equal inhumanity, in courts,
Delusive pomp, and dark cabals, delight;
Wreathe the deep bow, diffuse the lying smile, 1295
And tread the weary labyrinth of state.
While he, from all the stormy passions free
That restless Men involve, hears, and but hears,
At distance safe, the human tempest roar,
Wrapt close in conscious peace. The fall of kings,
of nations, and the crush of states,
Move not the Man, who, from the world escap'd,
In still retreats, and flowery solitudes,
To Nature's voice attends, from month to month,
And day to day, through the revolving year; 1305
Admiring, sees her in her every shape;
Feels all her sweet emotions at his heart;
Takes what she liberal gives, nor thinks of more.
He, when young Spring protrudes the bursting germs,
Marks the first bud, and sucks the heathful gale 1310
Into his freshened soul; her genial hours
He full enjoys; and not a beauty blows,
And not an opening blossom breathes in vain.
In Summer he, beneath the living shade,
Such as o'er frigid Tempé wont to wave,
1315 Or Hemus cool, reads what the Muse, of these
Perhaps, has in immortal numbers sung;
Or what she dictates, writes: and, oft an eye
Shot round, rejoices in the vigorous year.
When Autumn's yellow lustre gilds the world, 1320
And tempts the sickled swain into the field,
Seiz'd by the general joy, his heart distends
With gentle throws; and through the tepid gleams
Deep musing, then he best exerts his song.
Even Winter wild to him is full of bliss.
1325 The mighty tempest, and the hoary waste, Abrupt, and deep, stretch'd o'er the buried earth, Awake to solemn thought. At night the skies, Disclos'd and kindled by refining frost, Pour every lustre on th' exalted eye.
1330 A friend, a book, the stealing hours secure, And mark them down for wisdom. With swift wing, O'er land and sea imagination roams; Or truth, divinely breaking on his mind, Elates his being, and unfolds his powers; 1335 Or in his breast heroic virtue burns. The touch of kindred too, and love he feels; The modest eye, whose beams on his alone Ecstatic shine ; the little strong embrace
Of prattling children, twin'd around his neck, 1340
And emulous to please him, calling forth
The fond parental soul. Nor purpose gay, ,
Amusement, dance, or song, he sternly scorns ;
For happiness and true philosophy
Are of the social still, and smiling kind.
This is the life which those who fret in guilt,
And guilty cities, never knew; the life,
Led by primeval ages, uncorrupt,
When angels dwelt, and God himself, with Man.
Oh NATURE! all-sufficient! over all!
1350 Enrich me with the knowledge of thy works! Snatch me to heaven; thy rolling wonders there, World beyond world, in infinite extent, Profusely scatter'd o'er the blue immense, Show me; their motions, periods, and their laws, 1355 Give me to scan; through the disclosing deep Light my blind way: the mineral strata there; Thrust, blooming, thence the vegetable world; O'er that the rising system more complex, Of animals; and higher still, the mind,
1360 The varied scene of quick-compounded thought, And where the mixing passions endless shift;
These ever open to my ravish'd eye;
A search, the flight of time can ne'er exhaust.
But if to that unequal; if the blood, 1365
In sluggish streams about my heart, forbid
That best ambition; under closing shades,
Inglorious, lay me by the lowly brook,
And whisper to my dreams. From Thee begin,
Dwell all on Thee, with Thee conclude my song; 1370
And let me never never stray from Thee.