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The subject proposed. Inscribed to the Countess of Hertford: The Season is described as it affects the various parts of Nature, ascending from the lower to the higher; with digressions arising from the subject. Its influence on inanimate Matter, on Vegetables, on brute Animals, and last on Man; concluding with a dissuasive from the wild and irregular passion of Love, opposed to that of a pure and happy kind.
Come, gentle SPRING, etherial Mildness, come,
And from the bosom of yon dropping cloud,
While music wakes around, veil'd in a shower
Of shadowing roses, on our plains descend.
O Hertford, fitted or to shine in courts
With unaffected grace, or walk the plain
With innocence and meditation join'd
In soft assemblage, listen to my song,
Which tby own Season paints; when Nature all
Is blooming and benevolent, like thee.
And see wbere surly Winter passes off,
Far to the north, and calls his ruffian blasts :
His blasts obey, and quit the howling hill,
The shatter'd forest, and the ravaged vale;
While softer gales succeed, at whose kind touch,
Dissolving snows in livid torrents lost,
The mountains lift their green heads to the sky.
As yet the trembling year is unconfirm’d,
And Winter oft at eve resames the breeze,
Chills the pale morn, and bids his driving sleets
Deform the day delightless : so that scarce
The bittern knows his time, with bill ingolf'd,
To shake the sounding marsh; or from the shore
The plovers when to scatter o'er the heath,
And sing their wild notes to the listening waste.
At last from Aries rolls the bounteous sun, And the bright Bull receives him. Then no more The' expansive atmosphere is cramp'd with cold; But, full of life and vivifying soul, Lifts the light clouds sublime, and spreads them thin, Fleecy, and white o'er all surrounding heaven.
Forth fly the tepid airs; and unconfined, Unbinding earth, the moving softness strays. Joyous, the' impatient husbandman perceives Relenting Nature, and his lusty steers Drives from their stalls, to where the well used plough Lies in the furrow, loosen'd from the frost. There unrefusing, to the harness'd yoke, They lend their shoulder, and begin their toil, Cheer'd by the simple song and soaring lark. Meanwbile incumbent o'er the shining share The master leans, removes the’ obstructing clay, Winds the whole work, and sidelong lays the glebe.
While thro' the neighbouring fields the sower stalks,
With measured step ; and liberal throws the grain
Into the faithful bosom of the ground :
The barrow follows harsb, and shuts the scene.
Be gracious, Heaven! for now laborious man
Has done his part. Ye fostering breezes, blow;
Ye softening dews, ye tender showers, descend !
And temper all, thou world-reviving sun,
Into the perfect year! Nor ye who live
In luxury and ease, in pomp and pride,
Think these lost themes, unworthy of your ear :
Such themes as these the rural Maro sung
To wide-imperial Rome, in the full height
Of elegance and taste, by Greece refined.
In ancient times, the sacred plough employ'd
The kings, and awful fathers of mankind :
And some, with whom compared your insect tribes
Are but the beings of a summer's day,
Have held the scale of empire, ruled the storm
Of mighty war; then, with unwearied hand,
Disdaining little delicacies, seized
The plough, and greatly independent lived.
Ye generous Britons, venerate the plough!
And o'er your hills and long withdrawing vales
Let Autumn spread bis treasures to the sun,
Luxuriant and unbounded : as the sea,
Far through his azure turbulent domain,
Your empire owns, and from a thousand shores
Wafts all the pomp of life into your ports;
So with superior boon may your rich soil,
Exuberant, Natnre's better blessings pour
O’er every land, the naked nations clotbe,
And be the exhaustless granary of a world !
Nor only through the lenient air this change,
Delicious, breathes; the penetrative sun,
His force deep darting to the dark retreat
Of vegetation, sets the steaming Power
At large, to wander o'er the verdant earth,
In various hues; but chiefly thee, gay green!
Thou smiling Nature's universal robe!
United light and shade! where the sight dwells
With growing strength and ever new delight.
From the moist meadow to the wither'd hill,
Led by the breeze, the vivid verdure runs,
And swells and deepens to the cherish'd eye.
The bawthorn wbiteps; and the juicy groves
Pat forth their buds, unfolding by degrees,
Till the whole leafy forest stands display'd,
In full laxuriance, to the sighing gales;
Where the deer rustle through the twining brake,
And the birds sing conceald. At once array'd
In all the colours of the flashing year,
By Nature's swift and secret working hand,
The garden flows, and fills the liberal air
With lavish fragrance; while the promised fruit
Lies yet a little embryo, unperceived,
Within its crimson folds. Now from the town,
Buried in smoke and sleep and noisome damps,
Oft let me wander o'er the dewy fields,
Where freshness breathes, and dash the trembling drops
From the bent bush, as through the verdant maze
Of sweetbriar bedges I pursue my walk ;
Or taste the smell of dairy; or ascend
Some eminence, Augusta, in thy plains,
And see the country, far diffused around,
One boundless blush, one white-empurpled shower
Of mingled blossoms; where the raptured eye
Hurries from joy to joy, and, bid beneath
The fair profusion, yellow Autumn spies.
If, brush'd from Russian wilds, a cutting gale
Rise not, and scatter from bis humid wings
The clammy mildew; or, dry blowing, breathe
Untimely frost; before whose baleful blast
The full blown Spring through all her foliage shrinks
Joyless and dead, a wide dejected waste.
För oft, engender'd by the bazy north,
Myriads on myriads, insect arinies waft
Keen in the poison'd breeze ; and wasteful eat,
Through buds and bark, into the blacken'd core,
Their eager way. A feeble race! yet oft
The sacred sons of vengeance; on whose course
Corrosive Famine waits, and kills the year.
To check this plague, the skilful farmer chaff
And blazing straw before his orchard burns;
Till, all involved in smoke, the latent foe
From every cranny suffocated falls :
Or scatters o'er the blooms the pungent dust
Of pepper, fatal to the frosty tribe :
Or, when the envenom'd leaf begins to carl,
With sprinkled water drowns them in their nest :
Nor, while they pick them up with busy bill,
The little trooping birds unwisely scares.
Be patient, swains; these cruel-seeming winds Blow not in vain. Far bence they keep repress'd Those deepening clouds on clouds, surcharged with rain, That o'er the vast Atlantic hitber borne, In endless train, would quench the summer blaze, And, cheerless, drown the crude unripen'd year.
The north-east spends his rage; he now shut up Within his iron cave, the effusive south Warms the wide air, and o'er the void of heaven Breathes the big clouds with vernal showers distent, As first a dusky wreath they seem to rise,
Scarce staining ether; but, by swift degrees,
In heaps on heaps, the doubling vapour sails
Along tbe loaded sky, and mingling deep
Sits on the horizon round a settled gloom :
Not such as wintry storms on mortals shed,
Oppressing life; but lovely, gentle, kind,
And full of every hope and every joy,
The wish of Nature. Gradual sinks the breeze
Into a perfect calm; that not a breath
Is beard to quiver through the closing woods,
Or rustling turn the many-twinkling leaves
Of aspen tall. The' uncurling floods, diffused
In glassy breadth, seem through delusive lapse
Forgetfol of their course. 'Tis silence all,
And pleasing expectation. Herds and flocks
Drop the dry sprig, and mute imploring eye
The falling verdure. Hush'd in short suspense,
The plumy people streak their wings with oil,
To throw the lucid moisture trickling off :
And wait the' approaching sign to strike, at once,
Into the general choir. Even mountains, vales,
And forests seem impatient to demand
The promised sweetness. Man superior walks
Amid the glad creation, musing praise,
And looking lively gratitude. At last,
The clouds consign their treasures to the fields;
And, softly shaking on the dimpled pool
Prelusive drops, let all their moisture flow,
In large effusion, o'er the freshen'd world.
The stealing shower is scarce to patter heard,
By such as wander through the forest walks,
Beneath the umbrageous multitude of leaves.
But who can hold the sbade wbile Heaven descends
In universal bounty, shedding herbs
And fruits and flowers on Nature's ample lap!
Swift Fancy fired anticipates their growth;
And, while the milky nutriment distils,
Beholds the kindling country colour round.
Thus all day long the full distended clouds Indulge their genial stores, and well shower'd earth Is deep enrich'd with vegetable life;