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Exert thy voice, sweet harbinger of Spring!
This moment is thy time to sing,
This moment I attend to praise,
And set my numbers to thy lays;
Free as thine shall be my song,
As thy music, short or long ;
Poets, wild as thou, were born,
Pleasing best when unconfined,
When to please is least designed,
Soothing but their cares to rest ;
Cares do still their thoughts molest,
And still the unhappy poet's breast
Like thine, when best he sings, is placed against a thorn.
She begins! Let all be still !
Muse, thy promise now fulfil !
Sweet! oh sweet! still sweeter yet!
Can thy words such accents fit i
Canst thou syllables refine,
Melt a sense that shall retain
Still some spirit of the brain,
Till with sounds like those it join?
'Twill not be! then change thy note,
Let division shake thy throat !
Hark! division now she tries,
Yet as far the Muse outflies !
Cease then, prithee, cease thy tune,
Trifler, wilt thou sing till June?
Till thy business all lies waste
And the time of building's past ?
Thus we poets that have speech, --
Unlike what thy forests teach,-
If a fluent vein be shown
That's transcendent to our own,
Criticise, reform or preach,
Censuring what we cannot reach.
Fair Tree! for thy delightful shade
'Tis just that some return be made ;
Sure some return is due from me
To thy cool shadows, and to thee.
When thou to birds dost shelter give
Thou music dost from them receive ;
If travellers beneath thee stay
Till storms have worn themselves away,
That time in praising thee they spend,
And thy protecting power commend;
The shepherd here, from scorching freed.
Tunes to thy dancing leaves his reed,
Whilst his loved nymph in thanks bestows
Her flowery chaplets on thy boughs.
Shall I then only silent be,
And no return be made by me?
No! let this wish upon me wait,
And still to flourish be thy fate,
To future ages mayst thou stand
Untouched by the rash workman's hand,
Till that large stock of sap is spent,
Which gives thy summer's ornament ;
Till the fierce winds, that vainly strive
To shock thy greatness whilst alive,
Shall on thy lifeless hour attend,
Prevent the axe and grace thy end,
Their scattered strength together call,
And to the clouds proclaim thy fall,
Who then their evening dews may spare,
When thou no longer art their care,
But shalt, like ancient heroes, burn
And some bright hearth be made thy urn.
In such a night, when every louder wind
Is to its distant cavern safe confined,
And only gentle Zephyr fans his wings,
And lonely Philomel, still waking, sings,
Or from some tree, framed for the owl's delight,
She, hollowing clear, directs the wanderer right,-
In such a night, when passing clouds give place,
Or thinly veil the heaven's mysterious face,
When in some river, overhung with green,
The waving moon and trembling leaves are seen,
When freshened grass now bears itself upright,
And makes cool banks to pleasing rest invite,
Whence spring the woodbind and the bramble-rose,
And where the sleepy cowslip sheltered grows,
Whilst now a paler hue the foxglove takes,
Yet chequers still with red the dusky brakes,
Where scattered glowworms,-but in twilight fine,-
Shew trivial beauties, watch their hour to shine,
While Salisbury stands the test of every light,
In perfect charms and perfect beauty bright;
When odours, which declined repelling day,
Through temperate air uninterrupted stray ;
When darkened groves their softest shadows wear,
And falling waters we distinctly hear;
When through the gloom more venerable shows
Some ancient fabric awful in repose ;
While sunburned hills their swarthy looks conceal,
And swelling haycocks thicken up the vale ;
When the loosed horse now, as his pasture leads,
Comes slowly grazing thro' the adjoining meads,
Whose stealing pace and lengthened shade we fear,
Till torn-up forage in his teeth we hear ;
When nibbling sheep at large pursue their food,
And unmolested kine rechew the cud ;
When curlews cry beneath the village-walls,
And to her straggling brood the partridge calls ;
Their short-lived jubilee the creatures keep,
Which but endures, whilst tyrant Man doth sleep ;
When a sedate content the spirit feels,
And no fierce light disturbs, whilst it reveals;
But silent musings urge the mind to seek
Something too high for syllables to speak;
Till the free soul to a composedness charmed,
Finding the elements of rage disarmed,
O’er all below a solemn quiet grown,
Joys in the inferior world, and thinks it like her own :
In such a night let me abroad remain,
Till morning breaks and all's confused again ;
Our cares, our toils, our clamours are renewed,
Our pleasures, seldom reached, again pursued.
FROM `AN ODE TO THE SPLEEN.'
Falsely the mortal part we blame
Of our depressed and ponderous frame,
Which, till the first degrading sin
Let thee, its dull attendant, in,
Still with the other did comply,
Nor clogged the active soul, disposed to fly
And range the mansions of its native sky.
Nor, whilst in his own heaven he dwelt,
Whilst Man his paradise possessed,
His fertile garden in the fragrant East,
And all united odours felt,
No armèd sweets, until thy reign,
Could shock the sense, or in the face
A flushed, unhandsome colour place;
But now a jonquil daunts the feeble brain,
We faint beneath the aromatic pain,
Till some offensive scent thy powers appease,
And pleasure we resign for short and nauseous ease.
Disarmed with so genteel an air,
The contest I give o'er,
Yet, Alexander, have a care,
And shock the sex no more.
We rule the world our life's whole race,
Men but assume that right,
First slaves to every tempting face,
Then martyrs to our spite.
You of one Orpheus sure have read,
Who would like you have writ,
Had he in London town been bred,
And polished, too, his wit ;
But he, poor soul, thought all was well,
And great should be his fame,
When he had left his wife in hell,
And birds and beasts could tame.
Yet venturing then with scoffing rhymes
The women to incense,
Resenting heroines of those times
Soon punished his offence;
And as the Hebrus rolled his skull,
And harp besmeared with blood,
They, clashing as the waves grew full,
Still harmonised the flood.
But you our follies gently treat,
And spin so fine the thread,
You need not fear his awkward fate
The Lock won't cost the Head.
Our admiration you command
For all that's gone before,
What next we look for at your hand
Can only raise it more.
Yet soothe the ladies, I advise,
As me, too, pride has wrought,-
We're born to wit, but to be wise
By admonitions taught