« 上一頁繼續 »
Who pours abundance o'er your flowing fields; While these unhappy partners of your kind Wide-hover round you, like the fowls of beaven, And ask their humble dole. The various turns Of fortune ponder; that your sons may want What now, with hard reluctance, faint ye give.
The lovely young Lavinia once had friends; And Fortune smiled, deceitful, on her birth. For, in her helpless years deprived of all, Of every stay, save Innocence and Heaven, She, with her widow'd mother, feeble, old, And poor, lived in a cottage, far retired Among the windings of a woody vale; By solitude and deep surrounding shades, But more by bashful modesty, conceal’d. Together thus they shunn'd the cruel scorn Which virtae, sunk to poverty, would meet From giddy passion and low-minded pride: Almost on Nature's common bounty fed ; Like the gay birds that sung them to repose, Content, and careless of to-morrow's fare. Her form was fresher than the morning rose, When the dew wets its leaves ; unstain's and pure, As is the lily or the mountain-snow. The modest virtues mingled in her eyes, Still on the ground dejected, darting all Their humid beams into the blooming flowers: Or when the mournful tale her mother told, Of what her faithless fortune promised once, Thrill'd in her thought, they, like the dewy star Of evening, shone in tears. A native grace Sat fair-proportion'd on her polish'd limbs, Veil'd in a simple robe, their best attire, Beyond the pomp of dress; for loveliness Needs not the foreign aid of ornament, But is, when unadorn'd, adorn'd the most. Thoughtless of beauty, she was Beauty's self, Recluse amid the close-embowering woods. As in the hollow breast of Apennine, Beneath the shelter of encircling bills,
A myrtle rises, far from human eye,
And breathes its balmy fragrance o'er the wild;
So flourish'd blooming, and unseen by all,
The sweet Lavinia ; till, at length, compell’d
By strong Necessity's supreme command,
With smiling patience in her looks, she went
To glean Palemon's fields. The pride of swains
Palemon was, the generous and the rich;
Who led the rural life in all its joy
And elegance, such as Arcadian song,
Transmits from ancient uncorropted times;
When tyrant custom had not shackled man,
But free to follow Nature was the mode.
He then, his fancy with autumnal scenes
Amusing, chanced beside his reaper-train
To walk, when poor Lavinia drew his eye;
Unconscions of her power, and turning quick
With unaffected blushes from his gaze :
He saw her charming, but he saw not half
The charms her downcast modesty conceal’d.
That very moment love and chaste desire
Sprung in his bosom, to himself unknown;
For still the world prevail'd, and its dread laugh,
Which scarce the firm philosopher can scorn,
Should bis heart own a gleaner in the field ;
And thus in secret to bis soul he sigh’d:-
“What pity! that so delicate a form,
By beauty kindled, where enlivening sense
And more than vulgar goodness seem to dwell,
Should be devoted to the rude embrace
Of some indecent clown ; she looks, methinks,
Of old Acasto's line; and to my mind
Recalls that patron of my happy life,
From wbom my liberal fortune took its rise;
Now to the dust gone down; his houses, lands,
And once fair-spreading family, dissolved.
"Tis said, that in some lone obscure retreat,
Urged by remembrance sad, and decent pride,
Far from those scenes wbich knew their better days,
His aged widow and his daughter live,
Whom yet my fruitless search could never find.
Romantic wish! would this the daughter were!"
When, strict inquiring, from herself he found
She was the same, the daughter of his friend,
Of bountiful Acasto; who can speak
The mingled passions that surprised his heart,
And through his nerves in shivering transport ran?
Then blazed his smother'd flame, avow'd, and bold;
And as be view'd her, ardent, o'er and o'er,
Love, gratitude, and pity wept at once.
Confused, and frighten’d at his sudden tears,
Her rising beauties flash'd a higher bloom,
As thus Palemon, passionate and just,
Pour'd out the pious rapture of his soul :
"And art thou then Acasto's dear remains ? She, whom my restless gratitude has sought, So long in vain ? O heavens! the very same, The soften'd image of my noble friend, Alive his every look, his every feature, More elegantly touch'd. Sweeter than Spring ! Thou sole surviving blossom from the root That nourish'd up my fortune! say, ah where, In what sequester'd desert, hast thou drawn The kindest aspect of delighted heaven? Into such beauty spread, and blown so fair ; Though Poverty's cold wind and crushing rain Beat keen and heavy on thy tender years? 0, let me now into a richer soil Transplant thee safe! where vernal sans and showe Diffuse their warmest, largest influence ; And of my garden be the pride and joy ! Ill it befits thee, oh, it ill befits Acasto's daughter, bis, whose open stores, Though vast, were little to his ampler heart, The father of a country, thus to pick The very refuse of those barvest-fields Which from his bounteous friendship I enjoy. Then throw that shameful pittance from tby hand, But ill apply'd to such a rugged task; The fields, the master, all, my fair, are thine:
If to the various blessings which thy house
Has on me lavish'd, thou wilt add that bliss,
That dearest bliss, the power of blessing thee!"
Here ceased the youth: yet still bis speaking eye
Express’d the sacred triumph of his soul,
With conscious virtue, gratitude, and love,
Above the vulgar joy divinely raised.
Nor waited be reply. Won by the charm
Of goodness irresistible, and all
In sweet disorder lost, she blush'd consent.
The news immediate to her mother brought,
While, pierced with anxious thought, she pined away
The lonely moments for Lavinia's fate:
Amazed, and scarce believing what she heard,
Joy seized her wither'd veins, and one bright gleam
of setting life shone on her evening hours:
Not less enraptured than the happy pair;
Who floarish'd long in tender bliss, and rear'd
A numerous offspring, lovely like themselves,
And good, the grace of all the country round.
Defeating oft the labours of the year,
The sultry south collects a potent blast.
At first, the groves are scarcely seen to stir
Their trembling tops ; and a still murmur runs
Along the soft-inclining fields of corn.
But as the aerial tempest fuller swells,
And in one mighty stream, invisible,
Immense, the whole excited atmosphere
Impetuous rashes o'er the sounding world ;
Strain’d to the root, the stooping forest pours
A rustling shower of yet untimely leaves.
High-beat, the circling mountains eddy in,
From the bare wild, the dissipated storm,
And send it in a torrent down the vale.
Exposed, and naked to its utmost rage,
Through all the sea of harvest rolling round,
The billowy plain floats wide ; nor can evade,
Though pliant to the blast, its seizing force;
Or whirl'd in air, or into vacant chatf
Shook waste. And sometimes too a burst of rain
Swept from the black horizon, broad, descends
In one continuons flood. Still overhead
The mingling tempest weaves its gloom, and still
The deluge deepens ; till the fields around
Lie sunk and flatted in the sordid wave.
Sudden, the ditches swell; the meadows swim.
Red, from the bills, innamerable streams
Tumultuous roar; and high above its banks
The river lift; before whose rushing tide,
Herds, flocks, and harvests, cottages, and swains,
Roll mingled down; all that the winds had spared
In one wild moment ruin'd; the big hopes
And well earn'd treasures of the painful year.
Fled to some eminence, the husbandman
Helpless beholds the miserable wreck
Driving along; his drowning ox at once
Descending, with his labours scatter'd round,
He sees; and instant o'er his shivering thought
Comes Winter unprovided, and a train
Of claimant children dear. Ye masters, then,
.Be mindful of the rough laborious band
That sinks you soft in elegance and ease;
Be mindful of those limbs in rasset clad,
Whose toil to yours is warmth and grateful pride ;
And, oh! be mindful of that sparing board,
Which covers yours with luxury profuse,
Makes your glass sparkle, and your sense rejoice!
Nor cruelly demand what the deep rains
And all involving winds have swept away.
Here the rude clamour of the sportsman's joy,
The gun fast thundering, and the winded horn,
Would tempt the Mase to sing the rural game:
How in his mid career the spaniel struck,
Stiff, by the tainted gale, with open nose,
Outstretch'd, and finely sensible, draws full,
Fearful, and cautious, on the latent prey ;
As in the sun the circling covey bask
Their varied plames, and, watchful every way,
Through the rough stubble turn the secret eye.
Caught in the meshy snare, in vain they beat