The subject proposed. Invocation. Address to Mr. Dodington. An introductory reflection on the motion of the heavenly bodies; whence the succession of the Seasons. As the face of nature in this season is almost uniform, the progress of the poem is a description of a Summer’s day. The dawn. Sunrising. Hymn to the sun. Forenoon. Summer insects described. Hay-making. Sheep-shearing. Noonday. A woodland retreat. Group of herds and flocks. A solemn grove: how it affects a contemplative mind. A cataract, and rude scene. View of Summer in the torrid zone. Storm of thunder and lightning. A tale. The storm over, a serene afternoon. Bathing. Hour of walking. Transition to the prospect of a rich well cultivated country; which introduces a panegyric on Great Britain. Sunset. Evening. Night. Summer meteors. A comet. The whole concluding with the praise of philosophy.
rom brightening fields of ether fair-disclos’d,
Child of the sun, refulgent Summer comes,
In pride of youth, and felt through nature’s depth:
He comes attended by the sultry hours,
And ever-fanning breezes, on his way;
While, from his ardent look, the turning Spring
Averts her blushful face; and earth, and skies,
All-smiling, to his hot dominion leaves.
Hence, let me haste into the mid-wood shade,
10 Where scarce a sunbeam wanders through the gloom;72
And on the dark-green grass, beside the brink
Of haunted stream, that by the roots of oak
Rolls o’er the rocky channel, lie at large,
And sing the glories of the circling year.
Come, inspiration! from thy hermit-seat,
By mortal seldom found: may fancy dare,
From thy fix’d serious eye, and raptur’d glance
Shot on surrounding heaven, to steal one look
Creative of the poet, every power
20 Exalting to an ecstasy of soul.
And thou, my youthful muse’s early friend,
In whom the human graces all unite;
Pure light of mind, and tenderness of heart;
Genius and wisdom; the gay social sense,
By decency chastis’d; goodness and wit,
In seldom-meeting harmony combin’d;
Unblemish’d honour, and an active zeal
For Britain’s glory, liberty, and man:
O Dodington! attend my rural song,
30 Stoop to my theme, inspirit every line,
And teach me to deserve thy just applause.
With what an awful world-revolving power73
Were first the unwieldy planets launch’d along
The illimitable void! thus to remain,
Amid the flux of many thousand years,
That oft has swept the toiling race of men
And all their labour’d monuments away,
Firm, unremitting, matchless, in their course;
To the kind-temper’d change of night and day,
40 And of the Seasons ever stealing round,
Minutely faithful: such the All-perfect Hand
That pois’d, impels, and rules the steady whole.
When now no more the alternate Twins are fir’d,
And Cancer reddens with the solar blaze,
Short is the doubtful empire of the night;
And soon, observant of approaching day,
The meek-ey’d morn appears, mother of dews,
At first faint-gleaming in the dappled east—
Till far o’er ether spreads the widening glow,
50 And, from before the lustre of her face,
White break the clouds away. With quicken’d step,
Brown night retires. Young day pours in apace,
And opens all the lawny prospect wide.
The dripping rock, the mountain’s misty top,74
Swell on the sight, and brighten with the dawn.
Blue, through the dusk, the smoking currents shine;
And from the bladed field the fearful hare75
Limps, awkward; while along the forest glade
The wild deer trip, and often turning gaze
60 At early passenger. Music awakes,
The native voice of undissembled joy;
And thick around the woodland hymns arise.
Rous’d by the cock, the soon-clad shepherd leaves
His mossy cottage, where with peace he dwells;
And from the crowded fold, in order, drives
His flock, to taste the verdure of the morn.
Falsely luxurious, will not man awake;
And, springing from the bed of sloth, enjoy
The cool, the fragrant, and the silent hour,
70 To meditation due and sacred song?
For is there aught in sleep can charm the wise?
To lie in dead oblivion, losing half
The fleeting moments of too short a life;
Total extinction of the enlighten’d soul!
Or else to feverish vanity alive,
Wilder’d, and tossing through distemper’d dreams!
Who would in such a gloomy state remain
Longer than nature craves; when every muse
And every blooming pleasure wait without,76
80 To bless the wildly devious morning-walk?
But yonder comes the powerful king of day,
Rejoicing in the east. The lessening cloud,
The kindling azure, and the mountain’s brow
Illum’d with fluid gold, his near approach
Betoken glad. Lo! now apparent all,
Aslant the dew-bright earth, and colour’d air,
He looks in boundless majesty abroad;
And sheds the shining day, that burnish’d plays
On rocks, and hills, and towers, and wandering streams,
90 High-gleaming from afar. Prime cheerer, light!
Of all material beings first, and best!
Efflux divine! Nature’s resplendent robe!
Without whose vesting beauty all were wrapt
In unessential gloom; and thou, O sun!
Soul of surrounding worlds! in whom best seen
Shines out thy Maker! may I sing of thee?
’Tis by thy secret, strong, attractive force,
As with a chain indissoluble bound,
Thy system rolls entire; from the far bourn
100 Of utmost Saturn, wheeling wide his round
Of thirty years, to Mercury, whose disk77
Can scarce be caught by philosophic eye,
Lost in the near effulgence of thy blaze.
Informer of the planetary train!
Without whose quickening glance their cumbrous orbs
Were brute unlovely mass, inert and dead,
And not, as now, the green abodes of life—
How many forms of being wait on thee!
Inhaling spirit; from the unfetter’d mind,
110 By thee sublim’d, down to the daily race,
The mixing myriads of thy setting beam.
The vegetable world is also thine,
Parent of Seasons! who the pomp precede
That waits thy throne, as through thy vast domain,
Annual, along the bright ecliptic-road,
In world-rejoicing state, it moves sublime.
Meantime the expecting nations, circled gay
With all the various tribes of foodful earth,
Implore thy bounty, or send grateful up
120 A common hymn; while, round thy beaming car,
High-seen, the Seasons lead, in sprightly dance
Harmonious knit, the rosy-finger’d hours,
The zephyrs floating loose, the timely rains,78
Of bloom ethereal the light-footed dews,
And soften’d into joy the surly storms.
These, in successive turn, with lavish hand,
Shower every beauty, every fragrance shower,
Herbs, flowers, and fruits; till, kindling at thy touch,
From land to land is flush’d the vernal year.
130 Nor to the surface of enliven’d earth,
Graceful with hills and dales, and leafy woods,
Her liberal tresses, is thy force confin’d—
But, to the bowell’d cavern darting deep,
The mineral kinds confess thy mighty power.
Effulgent, hence the veiny marble shines;
Hence labour draws his tools; hence burnish’d war
Gleams on the day; the nobler works of peace
Hence bless mankind; and generous commerce binds
The round of nations in a golden chain.
140 The unfruitful rock itself, impregn’d by thee,
In dark retirement forms the lucid stone.
The lively diamond drinks thy purest rays,
Collected light, compact; that, polish’d bright,
And all its native lustre let abroad,
Dares, as it sparkles on the fair-one’s breast,79
With vain ambition emulate her eyes.
At thee the ruby lights its deepening glow,
And with a waving radiance inward flames.
From thee the sapphire, solid ether, takes
150 Its hue cerulean; and, of evening tinct,
The purple-streaming amethyst is thine.
With thy own smile the yellow topaz burns;
Nor deeper verdure dyes the robe of Spring,
When first she gives it to the southern gale,
Than the green emerald shows. But, all combin’d,
Thick through the whitening opal play thy beams;
Or, flying several from its surface, form
A trembling variance of revolving hues,
As the site varies in the gazer’s hand.
160 The very dead creation, from thy touch,
Assumes a mimic life. By thee refin’d,
In brighter mazes the relucent stream
Plays o’er the mead. The precipice abrupt,
Projecting horror on the blacken’d flood,
Softens at thy return. The desert joys
Wildly, through all his melancholy bounds.
Rude ruins glitter; and the briny deep,80
Seen from some pointed promontory’s top,
Far to the blue horizon’s utmost verge,
170 Restless, reflects a floating gleam. But this,
And all the much-transported muse can sing,
Are to thy beauty, dignity, and use,
Unequal far; great delegated source
Of light, and life, and grace, and joy below!
How shall I then attempt to sing of him,
Who, Light himself! in uncreated light
Invested deep, dwells awfully retir’d
From mortal eye, or angel’s purer ken;
Whose single smile has, from the first of time,
180 Fill’d, overflowing, all those lamps of heaven,
That beam for ever through the boundless sky:
But, should he hide his face, the astonish’d sun,
And all the extinguish’d stars, would loosening reel
Wide from their spheres, and chaos come again.
And yet was every faltering tongue of man,
Almighty Father! silent in thy praise,
Thy works themselves would raise a general voice;
Even in the depth of solitary woods,
By human foot untrod, proclaim thy power;
190 And to the quire celestial thee resound,
The eternal cause, support, and end of all!
To me be Nature’s volume broad-display’d;
And to peruse its all-instructing page,
Or, haply catching inspiration thence,
Some easy passage, raptur’d, to translate,
My sole delight; as through the falling glooms82
Pensive I stray, or with the rising dawn
On fancy’s eagle-wing excursive soar.
Now, flaming up the heavens, the potent sun
200 Melts into limpid air the high-rais’d clouds,
And morning fogs, that hover’d round the hills
In party-colour’d bands; till wide unveil’d
The face of nature shines, from where earth seems,
Far-stretch’d around, to meet the bending sphere.
Half in a blush of clustering roses lost,
Dew-dropping coolness to the shade retires,
There, on the verdant turf or flowery bed,
By gelid founts and careless rills to muse;
While tyrant heat, dispreading through the sky,
210 With rapid sway, his burning influence darts
On man, and beast, and herb, and tepid stream.
Who can unpitying see the flowery race,
Shed by the morn, their new-flush’d bloom resign,
Before the parching beam? So fade the fair,
When fevers revel through their azure veins.
But one, the lofty follower of the sun,
Sad when he sets, shuts up her yellow leaves,
Drooping all night; and, when he warm returns,83
Points her enamour’d bosom to his ray.
220 Home, from his morning task, the swain retreats
His flock before him stepping to the fold:
While the full-udder’d mother lows around
The cheerful cottage, then expecting food,
The food of innocence and health! The daw,
The rook, and magpie, to the grey-grown oaks
(That the calm village in their verdant arms,
Sheltering, embrace) direct their lazy flight;
Where on the mingling boughs they sit embower’d,
All the hot noon, till cooler hours arise.
230 Faint, underneath, the household fowls convene;84
And, in a corner of the buzzing shade,
The housedog, with the vacant greyhound, lies,
Out-stretch’d and sleepy. In his slumbers one
Attacks the nightly thief, and one exults
O’er hill and dale; till, waken’d by the wasp,
They starting snap. Nor shall the muse disdain
To let the little noisy summer race
Live in her lay, and flutter through her song,
Not mean though simple: to the sun allied,
240 From him they draw their animating fire.
Wak’d by his warmer ray, the reptile young
Come wing’d abroad; by the light air upborne,
Lighter, and full of soul. From every chink,
And secret corner, where they slept away
The wintry storms—or rising from their tombs,
To higher life—by myriads, forth at once,
Swarming they pour; of all the varied hues
Their beauty-beaming parent can disclose.
Ten thousand forms! ten thousand different tribes!
250 People the blaze. To sunny waters some
By fatal instinct fly; where on the pool
They, sportive, wheel; or, sailing down the stream,85
Are snatch’d immediate by the quick-ey’d trout,
Or darting salmon. Through the greenwood glade
Some love to stray; there lodg’d, amus’d, and fed,
In the fresh leaf. Luxurious, others make
The meads their choice, and visit every flower,
And every latent herb: for the sweet task,
To propagate their kinds, and where to wrap,
260 In what soft beds, their young yet undisclos’d,
Employs their tender care. Some to the house,
The fold, and dairy, hungry, bend their flight;
Sip round the pail, or taste the curdling cheese:
Oft, inadvertent, from the milky stream
They meet their fate; or, weltering in the bowl,
With powerless wings around them wrapt, expire.
But chief to heedless flies the window proves
A constant death; where, gloomily retir’d,
The villain spider lives, cunning and fierce,
270 Mixture abhorr’d! Amid a mangled heap
Of carcasses, in eager watch he sits,
O’erlooking all his waving snares around.
Near the dire cell the dreadless wanderer oft
Passes; as oft the ruffian shows his front.86
The prey at last ensnar’d, he dreadful darts,
With rapid glide, along the leaning line;
And, fixing in the wretch his cruel fangs,
Strikes backward, grimly pleas’d: the fluttering wing,
And shriller sound, declare extreme distress,
280 And ask the helping hospitable hand.
Resounds the living surface of the ground:
Nor undelightful is the ceaseless hum,
To him who muses through the woods at noon;
Or drowsy shepherd, as he lies reclin’d,
With half-shut eyes, beneath the floating shade
Of willows grey, close-crowding o’er the brook.87
Gradual, from these what numerous kinds descend,
Evading even the microscopic eye!
Full nature swarms with life; one wondrous mass
290 Of animals, or atoms organis’d,
Waiting the vital breath, when Parent-Heaven
Shall bid his spirit blow. The hoary fen,
In putrid steams, emits the living cloud
Of pestilence. Through subterranean cells,
Where searching sunbeams scarce can find a way,
Earth animated heaves. The flowery leaf
Wants not its soft inhabitants. Secure,
Within its winding citadel, the stone
Holds multitudes. But chief the forest boughs,
300 That dance unnumber’d to the playful breeze,
The downy orchard, and the melting pulp
Of mellow fruit, the nameless nations feed
Of evanescent insects. Where the pool
Stands mantled o’er with green, invisible
Amid the floating verdure millions stray.
Each liquid too, whether it pierces, soothes,
Inflames, refreshes, or exalts the taste,
With various forms abounds. Nor is the stream88
Of purest crystal, nor the lucid air,
310 Though one transparent vacancy it seems,
Void of their unseen people. These, conceal’d
By the kind art of forming Heaven, escape
The grosser eye of man: for, if the worlds
In worlds enclos’d should on his senses burst,
From cates ambrosial, and the nectar’d bowl,
He would abhorrent turn; and in dead night,
When silence sleeps o’er all, be stunn’d with noise.
Let no presuming impious railer tax
Creative Wisdom, as if aught was form’d
320 In vain, or not for admirable ends.
Shall little haughty ignorance pronounce
His works unwise, of which the smallest part
Exceeds the narrow vision of her mind?
As if upon a full-proportion’d dome,
On swelling columns heav’d, the pride of art!
A critic fly, whose feeble ray scarce spreads
An inch around, with blind presumption bold,
Should dare to tax the structure of the whole.
And lives the man whose universal eye
330 Has swept at once the unbounded scheme of things,89
Mark’d their dependence so, and firm accord,
As with unfaltering accent to conclude
That this availeth nought? Has any seen
The mighty chain of beings, lessening down
From Infinite Perfection to the brink
Of dreary nothing, desolate abyss!
From which astonish’d thought, recoiling, turns?
Till then, alone let zealous praise ascend,
And hymns of holy wonder, to that Power,
340 Whose wisdom shines as lovely on our minds,
As on our smiling eyes his servant-sun.
Thick in yon stream of light, a thousand ways,
Upward and downward, thwarting and convolv’d,
The quivering nations sport; till, tempest-wing’d,
Fierce Winter sweeps them from the face of day.
Even so luxurious men, unheeding, pass
An idle summer-life in fortune’s shine,
A season’s glitter! thus they flutter on
From toy to toy, from vanity to vice;
350 Till, blown away by death, oblivion comes
Behind, and strikes them from the book of life.
Now swarms the village o’er the jovial mead:90
The rustic youth, brown with meridian toil,
Healthful and strong; full as the summer rose
Blown by prevailing suns, the ruddy maid,
Half naked, swelling on the sight, and all
Her kindled graces burning o’er her cheek.
Even stooping age is here; and infant hands
Trail the long rake, or, with the fragrant load
360 O’ercharg’d, amid the kind oppression roll.
Wide flies the tedded grain; all in a row
Advancing broad, or wheeling round the field,91
They spread the breathing harvest to the sun,
That throws refreshful round a rural smell;
Or, as they rake the green-appearing ground,
And drive the dusky wave along the mead,
The russet haycock rises thick behind,
In order gay: while heard from dale to dale,
Waking the breeze, resounds the blended voice
370 Of happy labour, love, and social glee.
Or rushing thence, in one diffusive band,
They drive the troubled flocks, by many a dog
Compell’d, to where the mazy-running brook
Forms a deep pool; this bank abrupt and high,
And that, fair-spreading in a pebbled shore.
Urg’d to the giddy brink, much is the toil,
The clamour much, of men, and boys, and dogs,
Ere the soft fearful people to the flood
Commit their woolly sides. And oft the swain,
380 On some impatient seizing, hurls them in:
Embolden’d then, nor hesitating more,
Fast, fast, they plunge amid the flashing wave,
And panting labour to the farther shore.
Repeated this, till deep the well-wash’d fleece92
Has drunk the flood, and from his lively haunt
The trout is banish’d by the sordid stream,
Heavy and dripping, to the breezy brow
Slow-move the harmless race; where, as they spread
Their swelling treasures to the sunny ray,
390 Inly disturb’d, and wondering what this wild
Outrageous tumult means, their loud complaints
The country fill—and, toss’d from rock to rock,
Incessant bleatings run around the hills.
At last, of snowy white, the gather’d flocks
Are in the wattled pen innumerous press’d,
Head above head; and rang’d in lusty rows
The shepherds sit, and whet the sounding shears.
The housewife waits to roll her fleecy stores,
With all her gay-drest maids attending round.
400 One, chief, in gracious dignity enthron’d,
Shines o’er the rest, the pastoral queen, and rays
Her smiles, sweet-beaming, on her shepherd-king;
While the glad circle round them yield their souls
To festive mirth, and wit that knows no gall.
Meantime, their joyous task goes on apace:
Some mingling stir the melted tar, and some,93
Deep on the new-shorn vagrant’s heaving side,
To stamp his master’s cipher ready stand;
Others the unwilling wether drag along;
410 And, glorying in his might, the sturdy boy
Holds by the twisted horns the indignant ram.
Behold where bound, and of its robe bereft,
By needy man, that all-depending lord,
How meek, how patient, the mild creature lies!
What softness in its melancholy face,
What dumb complaining innocence appears!
Fear not, ye gentle tribes, ’tis not the knife
Of horrid slaughter that is o’er you wav’d;
No, ’tis the tender swain’s well-guided shears,
420 Who having now, to pay his annual care,94
Borrow’d your fleece, to you a cumbrous load,
Will send you bounding to your hills again.
A simple scene! yet hence Britannia sees
Her solid grandeur rise: hence she commands
The exalted stores of every brighter clime,
The treasures of the sun without his rage;
Hence, fervent all, with culture, toil, and arts,
Wide glows her land; her dreadful thunder hence
Rides o’er the waves sublime, and now, even now,
430 Impending hangs o’er Gallia’s humbled coast;
Hence rules the circling deep, and awes the world.
’Tis raging noon; and, vertical, the sun
Darts on the head direct his forceful rays.
O’er heaven and earth, far as the ranging eye
Can sweep, a dazzling deluge reigns; and all,
From pole to pole, is undistinguish’d blaze.
In vain the sight, dejected to the ground,
Stoops for relief; thence hot ascending steams
And keen reflection pain. Deep to the root
440 Of vegetation parch’d, the cleaving fields
And slippery lawn an arid hue disclose,
Blast fancy’s blooms, and wither even the soul.95
Echo no more returns the cheerful sound
Of sharpening scythe: the mower, sinking, heaps
O’er him the humid hay, with flowers perfum’d;
And scarce a chirping grasshopper is heard
Through the dumb mead. Distressful nature pants.
The very streams look languid from afar;
Or, through the unshelter’d glade, impatient, seem
450 To hurl into the covert of the grove.
All-conquering heat, oh intermit thy wrath!
And on my throbbing temples potent thus
Beam not so fierce! Incessant still you flow,
And still another fervent flood succeeds,
Pour’d on the head profuse. In vain I sigh,
And restless turn, and look around for night:
Night is far off; and hotter hours approach.
Thrice-happy he! who on the sunless side
Of a romantic mountain, forest-crown’d,
460 Beneath the whole collected shade reclines;
Or in the gelid caverns, woodbine-wrought,
And fresh bedew’d with ever-spouting streams,
Sits coolly calm, while all the world without,
Unsatisfied and sick, tosses in noon.96
Emblem instructive of the virtuous man,
Who keeps his temper’d mind serene, and pure,
And every passion aptly harmonis’d,
Amid a jarring world with vice inflam’d.
Welcome, ye shades! ye bowery thickets, hail!
470 Ye lofty pines! ye venerable oaks!
Ye ashes wild, resounding o’er the steep!
Delicious is your shelter to the soul,
As to the hunted hart the sallying spring,
Or stream full-flowing, that his swelling sides
Laves, as he floats along the herbag’d brink.
Cool, through the nerves, your pleasing comfort glides;
The heart beats glad; the fresh-expanded eye
And ear resume their watch; the sinews knit;
And life shoots swift through all the lighten’d limbs.
480 Around the adjoining brook that purls along
The vocal grove, now fretting o’er a rock,
Now scarcely moving through a reedy pool,
Now starting to a sudden stream, and now
Gently diffus’d into a limpid plain,
A various group the herds and flocks compose;
Rural confusion! On the grassy bank97
Some ruminating lie; while others stand
Half in the flood, and often bending sip
The circling surface. In the middle droops
490 The strong laborious ox, of honest front,
Which incompos’d he shakes; and from his sides
The troublous insects lashes with his tail,
Returning still. Amid his subjects safe,
Slumbers the monarch-swain; his careless arm
Thrown round his head, on downy moss sustain’d:
Here laid his scrip, with wholesome viands fill’d;
There, listening every noise, his watchful dog.
Light fly his slumbers, if perchance a flight
Of angry gadflies fasten on the herd;
500 That startling scatters from the shallow brook,
In search of lavish stream. Tossing the foam,
They scorn the keeper’s voice, and scour the plain
Through all the bright severity of noon;
While, from their labouring breasts, a hollow moan
Proceeding, runs low-bellowing round the hills.
Oft in this season too the horse, provok’d,
While his big sinews full of spirits swell,
Trembling with vigour, in the heat of blood,
Springs the high fence; and, o’er the field effus’d,
510 Darts on the gloomy flood, with steadfast eye,
And heart estrang’d to fear: his nervous chest,
Luxuriant and erect, the seat of strength!
Bears down the opposing stream; quenchless his thirst,
He takes the river at redoubled draughts;
And with wide nostrils, snorting, skims the wave.
Still let me pierce into the midnight depth
Of yonder grove, of wildest, largest growth;
That, forming high in air a woodland quire,
Nods o’er the mount beneath. At every step,99
520 Solemn and slow, the shadows blacker fall,
And all is awful listening gloom around.
These are the haunts of meditation, these
The scenes where ancient bards the inspiring breath,
Ecstatic, felt; and, from this world retir’d,
Convers’d with angels, and immortal forms,
On gracious errands bent: to save the fall
Of virtue struggling on the brink of vice;
In waking whispers, and repeated dreams,
To hint pure thought, and warn the favour’d soul
530 For future trials fated to prepare;
To prompt the poet, who devoted gives
His muse to better themes; to soothe the pangs
Of dying worth, and from the patriot’s breast
(Backward to mingle in detested war,
But foremost when engag’d) to turn the death;
And numberless such offices of love,
Daily and nightly, zealous to perform.
Shook sudden from the bosom of the sky,
A thousand shapes or glide athwart the dusk,
540 Or stalk majestic on. Deep-rous’d, I feel
A sacred terror, a severe delight,100
Creep through my mortal frame; and thus, methinks,
A voice, than human more, the abstracted ear
Of fancy strikes: “Be not of us afraid,
Poor kindred man! thy fellow-creatures, we
From the same Parent-Power our beings drew—
The same our Lord, and laws, and great pursuit.
Once some of us, like thee, through stormy life
Toil’d tempest-beaten, ere we could attain
550 This holy calm, this harmony of mind,
Where purity and peace immingle charms.
Then fear not us; but with responsive song,
Amid these dim recesses, undisturb’d
By noisy folly and discordant vice,
Of nature sing with us, and nature’s God.
Here frequent, at the visionary hour,
When musing midnight reigns or silent noon,101
Angelic harps are in full concert heard,
And voices chanting from the wood-crown’d hill,
560 The deepening dale, or inmost sylvan glade;
A privilege bestow’d by us, alone,
On contemplation, or the hallow’d ear
Of poet, swelling to seraphic strain.”
And art thou, Stanley1, of that sacred band?
Alas, for us too soon!—Though rais’d above
The reach of human pain, above the flight
Of human joy, yet, with a mingled ray
Of sadly pleas’d remembrance, must thou feel
A mother’s love, a mother’s tender woe;
570 Who seeks thee still in many a former scene,
Seeks thy fair form, thy lovely-beaming eyes,
Thy pleasing converse, by gay lively sense
Inspir’d—where moral wisdom mildly shone
Without the toil of art, and virtue glow’d
In all her smiles, without forbidding pride.
But, O thou best of parents! wipe thy tears;
Or rather to parental Nature pay
The tears of grateful joy—who for a while
Lent thee this younger self, this opening bloom102
580 Of thy enlighten’d mind and gentle worth.
Believe the muse: the wintry blast of death
Kills not the buds of virtue; no, they spread,
Beneath the heavenly beam of brighter suns,
Through endless ages, into higher powers.
Thus up the mount, in airy vision rapt,
I stray, regardless whither; till the sound
Of a near fall of water every sense
Wakes from the charm of thought: swift-shrinking back,
I check my steps, and view the broken scene.
590 Smooth to the shelving brink a copious flood
Rolls fair, and placid; where collected all,
In one impetuous torrent, down the steep
It thundering shoots, and shakes the country round.
At first, an azure sheet, it rushes broad;
Then whitening by degrees as prone it falls,
And from the loud-resounding rocks below
Dash’d in a cloud of foam, it sends aloft
A hoary mist, and forms a ceaseless shower.
Nor can the tortur’d wave here find repose:
600 But, raging still amid the shaggy rocks,
Now flashes o’er the scatter’d fragments, now103
Aslant the hollow’d channel rapid darts;
And falling fast from gradual slope to slope,
With wild infracted course, and lessened roar,
It gains a safer bed, and steals, at last,
Along the mazes of the quiet vale.
Invited from the cliff, to whose dark brow
He clings, the steep-ascending eagle soars,
With upward pinions, through the flood of day;
610 And, giving full his bosom to the blaze,
Gains on the sun; while all the tuneful race,
Smit by afflictive noon, disorder’d droop,
Deep in the thicket; or, from bower to bower
Responsive, force an interrupted strain.
The stockdove only through the forest coos,
Mournfully hoarse; oft ceasing from his plaint,
Short interval of weary woe! again
The sad idea of his murder’d mate,
Struck from his side by savage fowler’s guile,
620 Across his fancy comes; and then resounds
A louder song of sorrow through the grove.
Beside the dewy border let me sit,
All in the freshness of the humid air:104
There on that hollow’d rock, grotesque and wild,
An ample chair moss-lin’d, and over head
By flowering umbrage shaded; where the bee
Strays diligent, and with the extracted balm
Of fragrant woodbine loads his little thigh.
Now, while I taste the sweetness of the shade,
630 While nature lies around deep-lull’d in noon,
Now come, bold fancy, spread a daring flight,
And view the wonders of the torrid zone105
Climes unrelenting! with whose rage compar’d,
Yon blaze is feeble, and yon skies are cool.
See, how at once the bright-effulgent sun,
Rising direct, swift chases from the sky
The short liv’d twilight; and with ardent blaze
Looks gaily fierce o’er all the dazzling air:
He mounts his throne; but kind before him sends,
640 Issuing from out the portals of the morn,
The general breeze2, to mitigate his fire,
And breathe refreshment on a fainting world.
Great are the scenes, with dreadful beauty crown’d
And barbarous wealth, that see, each circling year,
Returning suns and double seasons3 pass:
Rocks rich in gems, and mountains big with mines,
That on the high equator ridgy rise,
Whence many a bursting stream auriferous plays;
Majestic woods, of every vigorous green,
650 Stage above stage, high-waving o’er the hills,
Or to the far horizon wide-diffus’d,
A boundless deep immensity of shade.
Here lofty trees, to ancient song unknown,
The noble sons of potent heat and floods106
Prone-rushing from the clouds, rear high to heaven
Their thorny stems, and broad around them throw
Meridian gloom. Here, in eternal prime,
Unnumber’d fruits, of keen delicious taste
And vital spirit, drink amid the cliffs,
660 And burning sands that bank the shrubby vales,
Redoubled day; yet in their rugged coats
A friendly juice to cool its rage contain.
Bear me, Pomona! to thy citron groves;
To where the lemon and the piercing lime,
With the deep orange, glowing through the green,
Their lighter glories blend. Lay me reclin’d
Beneath the spreading tamarind, that shakes,
Fann’d by the breeze, its fever-cooling fruit.
Deep in the night the massy locust sheds,
670 Quench my hot limbs; or lead me through the maze,
Embowering endless, of the Indian fig;
Or thrown at gayer ease, on some fair brow,
Let me behold, by breezy murmurs cool’d,
Broad o’er my head the verdant cedar wave,
And high palmettos lift their graceful shade.
Oh! stretch’d amid these orchards of the sun,107
Give me to drain the cocoa’s milky bowl,
And from the palm to draw its freshening wine;
More bounteous far than all the frantic juice
680 Which Bacchus pours. Nor, on its slender twigs
Low-bending, be the full pomegranate scorn’d;
Nor, creeping through the woods, the gelid race
Of berries. Oft in humble station dwells
Unboastful worth, above fastidious pomp.
Witness, thou best ananas, thou the pride
Of vegetable life, beyond whate’er
The poets imag’d in the golden age:
Quick let me strip thee of thy tufty coat,
Spread thy ambrosial stores, and feast with Jove!
690 From these the prospect varies. Plains immense
Lie stretch’d below, interminable meads,
And vast savannas, where the wandering eye,
Unfix’d, is in a verdant ocean lost.
Another Flora there, of bolder hues
And richer sweets, beyond our garden’s pride,
Plays o’er the fields, and showers with sudden hand
Exuberant Spring; for oft these valleys shift
Their green-embroider’d robe to fiery brown,108
And swift to green again, as scorching suns,
700 Or streaming dews and torrent rains, prevail.
Along these lonely regions, where, retir’d
From little scenes of art, great Nature dwells
In awful solitude, and nought is seen
But the wild herds that own no master’s stall,
Prodigious rivers roll their fattening seas;
On whose luxuriant herbage, half-conceal’d,
Like a fall’n cedar, far diffus’d his train,
Cas’d in green scales, the crocodile extends.
The flood disparts: behold! in plaited mail,
710 Behemoth4 rears his head. Glanc’d from his side,
The darted steel in idle shivers flies:
He fearless walks the plain, or seeks the hills;
Where, as he crops his varied fare, the herds,
In widening circle round, forget their food,
And at the harmless stranger wondering gaze.
Peaceful, beneath primeval trees that cast
Their ample shade o’er Niger’s yellow stream,
And where the Ganges rolls his sacred wave,
Or ’mid the central depth of blackening woods
720 High-rais’d in solemn theatre around,109
Leans the huge elephant; wisest of brutes!
Oh truly wise! with gentle might endow’d,
Though powerful, not destructive. Here he sees
Revolving ages sweep the changeful earth,
And empires rise and fall; regardless he
Of what the never-resting race of men
Project: thrice happy! could he ’scape their guile,
Who mine, from cruel avarice, his steps;
Or with his towery grandeur swell their state,
730 The pride of kings! or else his strength pervert,
And bid him rage amid the mortal fray,
Astonish’d at the madness of mankind.
Wide o’er the winding umbrage of the floods,
Like vivid blossoms glowing from afar,
Thick-swarm the brighter birds. For Nature’s hand,
That with a sportive vanity has deck’d
The plumy nations, there her gayest hues
Profusely pours. But, if she bids them shine,
Array’d in all the beauteous beams of day,
740 Yet frugal still, she humbles them in song.5
Nor envy we the gaudy robes they lent
Proud Montezuma’s realm, whose legions cast110
A boundless radiance waving on the sun,
While philomel is ours; while in our shades,
Through the soft silence of the listening night,
The sober-suited songstress trills her lay.
But come, my muse, the desert-barrier burst,
A wild expanse of lifeless sand and sky;
And, swifter than the toiling caravan,
750 Shoot o’er the vale of Sennaar, ardent climb
The Nubian mountains, and the secret bounds
Of jealous Abyssinia boldly pierce.
Thou art no ruffian, who beneath the mask
Of social commerce com’st to rob their wealth;
No holy fury thou, blaspheming Heaven,
With consecrated steel to stab their peace,
And through the land, yet red from civil wounds,
To spread the purple tyranny of Rome.
Thou, like the harmless bee, may’st freely range,
760 From mead to mead bright with exalted flowers,
From jasmine grove to grove; may’st wander gay,
Through palmy shades and aromatic woods,
That grace the plains, invest the peopled hills,
And up the more than Alpine mountains wave.111
There on the breezy summit, spreading fair
For many a league; or on stupendous rocks,
That from the sun-redoubling valley lift,
Cool to the middle air, their lawny tops;
Where palaces, and fanes, and villas rise;
770 And gardens smile around, and cultur’d fields;
And fountains gush; and careless herds and flocks
Securely stray; a world within itself,
Disdaining all assault: there let me draw
Ethereal soul, there drink reviving gales,
Profusely breathing from the spicy groves,
And vales of fragrance; there at distance hear
The roaring floods, and cataracts, that sweep
From disembowell’d earth the virgin gold;
And o’er the varied landscape, restless, rove,
780 Fervent with life of every fairer kind.
A land of wonders! which the sun still eyes
With ray direct, as of the lovely realm
Enamour’d, and delighting there to dwell.
How chang’d the scene! In blazing height of noon,
The sun, oppress’d, is plung’d in thickest gloom.
Still horror reigns, a dreary twilight round,112
Of struggling night and day malignant mix’d.
For to the hot equator crowding fast,
Where, highly rarefied, the yielding air
790 Admits their stream, incessant vapours roll,
Amazing clouds on clouds continual heap’d;
Or whirl’d tempestuous by the gusty wind,
Or silent borne along, heavy and slow,
With the big stores of steaming oceans charg’d.
Meantime, amid these upper seas, condens’d
Around the cold aërial mountain’s brow,
And by conflicting winds together dash’d,
The thunder holds his black tremendous throne;
From cloud to cloud the rending lightnings rage;
800 Till, in the furious elemental war
Dissolv’d, the whole precipitated mass
Unbroken floods and solid torrents pours.
The treasures these, hid from the bounded search
Of ancient knowledge; whence, with annual pomp,
Rich king of floods! o’erflows the swelling Nile.
From his two springs, in Gojam’s sunny realm,
Pure-welling out, he through the lucid lake
Of fair Dembea rolls his infant stream.113
There, by the naiads nurs’d, he sports away
810 His playful youth, amid the fragrant isles
That with unfading verdure smile around.
Ambitious, thence the manly river breaks;
And gathering many a flood, and copious fed
With all the mellow’d treasures of the sky,
Winds in progressive majesty along:
Through splendid kingdoms now devolves his maze;
Now wanders wild o’er solitary tracts
Of life-deserted sand; till, glad to quit
The joyless desert, down the Nubian rocks,
820 From thundering steep to steep, he pours his urn,
And Egypt joys beneath the spreading wave.114
His brother Niger too, and all the floods
In which the full-form’d maids of Afric lave
Their jetty limbs; and all that from the tract
Of woody mountains stretch’d through gorgeous Ind
Fall on Cor’mandel’s coast, or Malabar;
From Menam’s6 orient stream, that nightly shines
With insect-lamps, to where aurora sheds
On Indus’ smiling banks the rosy shower;
830 All, at this bounteous season, ope their urns,
And pour untoiling harvest o’er the land.
Nor less thy world, Columbus, drinks, refresh’d,
The lavish moisture of the melting year.
Wide o’er his isles, the branching Orinoque
Rolls a brown deluge; and the native drives
To dwell aloft on life-sufficing trees—
At once his dome, his robe, his food, and arms.
Swell’d by a thousand streams, impetuous hurl’d
From all the roaring Andes, huge descends
840 The mighty Orellana.7 Scarce the muse
Dares stretch her wing o’er this enormous mass
Of rushing water; scarce she dares attempt
The sea-like Plata; to whose dread expanse,115
Continuous depth, and wondrous length of course,
Our floods are rills. With unabated force,
In silent dignity they sweep along;
And traverse realms unknown, and blooming wilds,
And fruitful deserts—worlds of solitude,
Where the sun smiles and Seasons teem in vain,
850 Unseen and unenjoy’d. Forsaking these,
O’er peopled plains they fair-diffusive flow,
And many a nation feed, and circle safe,
In their soft bosom, many a happy isle;
The seat of blameless Pan, yet undisturb’d
By Christian crimes and Europe’s cruel sons.
Thus pouring on they proudly seek the deep,
Whose vanquish’d tide, recoiling from the shock,
Yields to this liquid weight of half the globe;
And ocean trembles for his green domain.
860 But what avails this wondrous waste of wealth,
This gay profusion of luxurious bliss,
This pomp of Nature? what their balmy meads,
Their powerful herbs, and Ceres void of pain?
By vagrant birds dispers’d, and wafting winds,
What their unplanted fruits? what the cool draughts,116
The ambrosial food, rich gums, and spicy health,
Their forests yield? their toiling insects what,
Their silky pride, and vegetable robes?
Ah! what avail their fatal treasures, hid
870 Deep in the bowels of the pitying earth,
Golconda’s gems, and sad Potosi’s mines?
Where dwelt the gentlest children of the sun!
What all that Afric’s golden rivers roll,
Her odorous woods, and shining ivory stores?
Ill-fated race! the softening arts of peace,
Whate’er the humanising muses teach;
The godlike wisdom of the temper’d breast;
Progressive truth, the patient force of thought;
Investigation calm, whose silent powers
880 Command the world; the light that leads to Heaven;
Kind equal rule, the government of laws,
And all-protecting freedom, which alone
Sustains the name and dignity of man:
These are not theirs. The parent sun himself
Seems o’er this world of slaves to tyrannise;
And, with oppressive ray, the roseate bloom
Of beauty blasting, gives the gloomy hue,117
And feature gross; or worse, to ruthless deeds,
Mad jealousy, blind rage, and fell revenge,
890 Their fervid spirit fires. Love dwells not there;
The soft regards, the tenderness of life,
The heart-shed tear, the ineffable delight
Of sweet humanity: these court the beam
Of milder climes; in selfish fierce desire,
And the wild fury of voluptuous sense,
There lost. The very brute creation there
This rage partakes, and burns with horrid fire.
Lo! the green serpent, from his dark abode,
Which even imagination fears to tread,
900 At noon forth-issuing, gathers up his train
In orbs immense, then, darting out anew,
Seeks the refreshing fount, by which diffus’d
He throws his folds; and while, with threatening tongue
And deathful jaws erect, the monster curls
His flaming crest, all other thirst appall’d,
Or shivering flies, or check’d at distance stands,
Nor dares approach. But still more direful he,
The small close-lurking minister of fate,
Whose high-concocted venom through the veins118
910 A rapid lightning darts, arresting swift
The vital current. Form’d to humble man,
This child of vengeful Nature! There, sublim’d
To fearless lust of blood, the savage race
Roam, licens’d by the shading hour of guilt,
And foul misdeed, when the pure day has shut
His sacred eye. The tiger, darting fierce,
Impetuous on the prey his glance has doom’d;
The lively-shining leopard, speckled o’er
With many a spot, the beauty of the waste;
920 And, scorning all the taming arts of man,
The keen hyena, fellest of the fell:
These, rushing from the inhospitable woods
Of Mauritania, or the tufted isles
That verdant rise amid the Libyan wild,
Innumerous glare around their shaggy king,
Majestic, stalking o’er the printed sand;
And, with imperious and repeated roars,
Demand their fated food. The fearful flocks
Crowd near the guardian swain; the nobler herds,
930 Where round their lordly bull, in rural ease,
They ruminating lie, with horror hear119
The coming rage. The awaken’d village starts;
And to her fluttering breast the mother strains
Her thoughtless infant. From the pirate’s den,
Or stern Morocco’s tyrant fang, escap’d,
The wretch half-wishes for his bonds again:
While, uproar all, the wilderness resounds,
From Atlas eastward to the frighted Nile.
Unhappy he! who from the first of joys,
940 Society, cut off, is left alone
Amid this world of death. Day after day,
Sad on the jutting eminence he sits,
And views the main that ever toils below:120
Still fondly forming in the farthest verge,
Where the round ether mixes with the wave,
Ships, dim-discover’d, dropping from the clouds.
At evening to the setting sun he turns
A mournful eye, and down his dying heart
Sinks helpless; while the wonted roar is up,
950 And hiss continual through the tedious night.
Yet here, even here, into these black abodes
Of monsters, unappall’d, from stooping Rome,
And guilty Cæsar, liberty retir’d,
Her Cato following through Numidian wilds;
Disdainful of Campania’s gentle plains,
And all the green delights Ausonia pours—
When for them she must bend the servile knee,
And fawning take the splendid robber’s boon.
Nor stop the terrors of these regions here.
960 Commission’d demons oft, angels of wrath,
Let loose the raging elements. Breath’d hot
From all the boundless furnace of the sky,
And the wide glittering waste of burning sand,
A suffocating wind the pilgrim smites
With instant death. Patient of thirst and toil,121
Son of the desert! even the camel feels,
Shot through his wither’d heart, the fiery blast.
Or from the black-red ether, bursting broad,
Sallies the sudden whirlwind. Straight the sands,
970 Commov’d around, in gathering eddies play;
Nearer and nearer still they darkening come;
Till, with the general all-involving storm
Swept up, the whole continuous wilds arise;
And by their noon day fount dejected thrown,
Or sunk at night in sad disastrous sleep,
Beneath descending hills, the caravan
Is buried deep. In Cairo’s crowded streets
The impatient merchant, wondering, waits in vain,
And Mecca saddens at the long delay.
980 But chief at sea, whose every flexile wave
Obeys the blast, the aërial tumult swells.
In the dread ocean, undulating wide,
Beneath the radiant line that girts the globe,
The circling typhon8, whirl’d from point to point,
Exhausting all the rage of all the sky,
And dire ecnephias8, reign. Amid the heavens,
Falsely serene, deep in a cloudy speck9122
Compress’d, the mighty tempest brooding dwells:
Of no regard save to the skilful eye,
990 Fiery and foul, the small prognostic hangs
Aloft, or on the promontory’s brow
Musters its force. A faint deceitful calm,
A fluttering gale, the demon sends before,
To tempt the spreading sail. Then down at once,
Precipitant, descends a mingled mass
Of roaring winds, and flame, and rushing floods.
In wild amazement fix’d the sailor stands.
Art is too slow. By rapid fate oppress’d,
His broad-wing’d vessel drinks the whelming tide,
1000 Hid in the bosom of the black abyss.
With such mad seas the daring Gama10 fought,
For many a day, and many a dreadful night,
Incessant, labouring round the stormy cape;
By bold ambition led, and bolder thirst
Of gold. For then, from ancient gloom, emerg’d
The rising world of trade: the genius, then,
Of navigation, that in hopeless sloth
Had slumber’d on the vast Atlantic deep
For idle ages, starting, heard at last123
1010 The Lusitanian prince11; who, heaven-inspir’d,
To love of useful glory rous’d mankind,
And in unbounded commerce mix’d the world.
Increasing still the terrors of these storms,
His jaws horrific arm’d with threefold fate,
Here dwells the direful shark. Lur’d by the scent
Of steaming crowds, of rank disease, and death,
Behold! he rushing cuts the briny flood,
Swift as the gale can bear the ship along;
And from the partners of that cruel trade
1020 Which spoils unhappy Guinea of her sons,
Demands his share of prey—demands themselves.
The stormy fates descend: one death involves
Tyrants and slaves; when straight, their mangled limbs
Crashing at once, he dyes the purple seas
With gore, and riots in the vengeful meal.
When o’er this world, by equinoctial rains
Flooded immense, looks out the joyless sun,
And draws the copious steam; from swampy fens,
Where putrefaction into life ferments,
1030 And breathes destructive myriads; or from woods,
Impenetrable shades, recesses foul,124
In vapours rank and blue corruption wrapt,
Whose gloomy horrors yet no desperate foot
Has ever dar’d to pierce—then, wasteful, forth
Walks the dire power of pestilent disease.
A thousand hideous fiends her course attend,
Sick nature blasting, and to heartless woe,
And feeble desolation, casting down
The towering hopes and all the pride of man.
1040 Such as, of late, at Cartagena quench’d
The British fire. You, gallant Vernon, saw
The miserable scene; you, pitying, saw
To infant weakness sunk the warrior’s arm;
Saw the deep-racking pang, the ghastly form,
The lip pale-quivering, and the beamless eye
No more with ardour bright; you heard the groans
Of agonising ships, from shore to shore;
Heard, nightly plung’d amid the sullen waves,
The frequent corse—while on each other fix’d,
1050 In sad presage, the blank assistants seem’d,
Silent, to ask, whom fate would next demand.
What need I mention those inclement skies
Where, frequent o’er the sickening city, plague,125
The fiercest child of Nemesis divine,
Descends? From Ethiopia’s poison’d woods,
From stifled Cairo’s filth, and fetid fields
With locust-armies putrefying heap’d,
This great destroyer sprung.12 Her awful rage
The brutes escape. Man is her destin’d prey,
1060 Intemperate man! and o’er his guilty domes
She draws a close incumbent cloud of death;
Uninterrupted by the living winds,
Forbid to blow a wholesome breeze; and stain’d
With many a mixture by the sun, suffus’d,
Of angry aspect. Princely wisdom, then,
Dejects his watchful eye; and from the hand
Of feeble justice, ineffectual, drop
The sword and balance: mute the voice of joy,
And hush’d the clamour of the busy world.
1070 Empty the streets, with uncouth verdure clad;
Into the worst of deserts sudden turn’d
The cheerful haunt of men—unless escap’d
From the doom’d house, where matchless horror reigns,
Shut up by barbarous fear, the smitten wretch,
With frenzy wild, breaks loose, and loud to Heaven126
Screaming, the dreadful policy arraigns,
Inhuman and unwise. The sullen door,
Yet uninfected, on its cautious hinge
Fearing to turn, abhors society.
1080 Dependants, friends, relations, love himself,
Savag’d by woe, forget the tender tie,
The sweet engagement of the feeling heart.
But vain their selfish care: the circling sky,
The wide enlivening air is full of fate;
And, struck by turns, in solitary pangs
They fall, unblest, untended, and unmourn’d.127
Thus o’er the prostrate city black despair
Extends her raven wing; while, to complete
The scene of desolation, stretch’d around,
1090 The grim guards stand, denying all retreat,
And give the flying wretch a better death.
Much yet remains unsung: the rage intense
Of brazen-vaulted skies, of iron fields,
Where drought and famine starve the blasted year;
Fir’d by the torch of noon to tenfold rage,
The infuriate hill that shoots the pillar’d flame;
And, rous’d within the subterranean world,
The expanding earthquake, that resistless shakes
Aspiring cities from their solid base,
1100 And buries mountains in the flaming gulf.
But ’tis enough; return, my vagrant muse;
A nearer scene of horror calls thee home.
Behold, slow-settling o’er the lurid grove,
Unusual darkness broods; and growing gains
The full possession of the sky, surcharg’d
With wrathful vapour, from the secret beds,
Where sleep the mineral generations, drawn.
Thence nitre, sulphur, and the fiery spume128
Of fat bitumen, steaming on the day,
1110 With various-tinctur’d trains of latent flame,
Pollute the sky, and in yon baleful cloud,
A reddening gloom, a magazine of fate,
Ferment; till, by the touch ethereal rous’d,
The dash of clouds, or irritating war
Of fighting winds, while all is calm below,
They furious spring. A boding silence reigns,
Dread through the dun expanse; save the dull sound
That from the mountain, previous to the storm,
Rolls o’er the muttering earth, disturbs the flood,
1120 And shakes the forest leaf without a breath:
Prone, to the lowest vale, the aërial tribes
Descend: the tempest-loving raven scarce
Dares wing the dubious dusk. In rueful gaze
The cattle stand, and on the scowling heavens
Cast a deploring eye; by man forsook,
Who to the crowded cottage hies him fast,
Or seeks the shelter of the downward cave.
’Tis listening fear, and dumb amazement all:
When to the startled eye the sudden glance
1130 Appears far south, eruptive through the cloud;129
And following slower, in explosion vast,
The thunder raises his tremendous voice.
At first, heard solemn o’er the verge of heaven,
The tempest growls; but as it nearer comes,
And rolls its awful burden on the wind,
The lightnings flash a larger curve, and more
The noise astounds—till over head a sheet
Of livid flame discloses wide, then shuts
And opens wider, shuts and opens still
1140 Expansive, wrapping ether in a blaze.
Follows the loosen’d aggravated roar,
Enlarging, deepening, mingling, peal on peal
Crush’d horrible, convulsing heaven and earth.
Down comes a deluge of sonorous hail,
Or prone-descending rain. Wide-rent, the clouds
Pour a whole flood; and yet, its flame unquench’d,
The unconquerable lightning struggles through,
Ragged and fierce, or in red whirling balls,
And fires the mountains with redoubled rage.
1150 Black from the stroke, above, the smouldering pine
Stands a sad shatter’d trunk; and, stretch’d below,
A lifeless group the blasted cattle lie:130
Here the soft flocks, with that same harmless look
They wore alive, and ruminating still
In fancy’s eye; and there the frowning bull,
And ox half-rais’d. Struck on the castled cliff,
The venerable tower and spiry fane
Resign their aged pride. The gloomy woods
Start at the flash, and from their deep recess,
1160 Wide-flaming out, their trembling inmates shake.
Amid Caernarvon’s mountains rages loud
The repercussive roar; with mighty crush,
Into the flashing deep, from the rude rocks
Of Penmaen Mawr heap’d hideous to the sky,
Tumble the smitten cliffs; and Snowdon’s peak,
Dissolving, instant yields his wintry load.
Far-seen, the heights of heathy Cheviot blaze,
And Thulè bellows through her utmost isles.
Guilt hears appall’d, with deeply troubled thought;
1170 And yet not always on the guilty head
Descends the fated flash. Young Celadon
And his Amelia were a matchless pair;
With equal virtue form’d, and equal grace,
The same, distinguish’d by their sex alone:
Hers the mild lustre of the blooming morn,
And his the radiance of the risen day.
They lov’d: but such their guileless passion was,
As in the dawn of time inform’d the heart
Of innocence, and undissembling truth.
1180 ’Twas friendship heighten’d by the mutual wish,
The enchanting hope, and sympathetic glow,
Beam’d from the mutual eye. Devoting all
To love, each was to each a dearer self;
Supremely happy in the awaken’d power
Of giving joy. Alone, amid the shades,
Still in harmonious intercourse they liv’d
The rural day, and talk’d the flowing heart,
Or sigh’d and look’d unutterable things.
So pass’d their life, a clear united stream,
1190 By care unruffled; till, in evil hour,132
The tempest caught them on the tender walk,
Heedless how far, and where its mazes stray’d,
While, with each other blest, creative love
Still bade eternal Eden smile around.
Heavy with instant fate, her bosom heav’d
Unwonted sighs, and stealing oft a look
Of the big gloom, on Celadon her eye
Fell tearful, wetting her disorder’d cheek.
In vain assuring love, and confidence
1200 In Heaven, repress’d her fear! it grew, and shook133
Her frame near dissolution. He perceiv’d
The unequal conflict; and, as angels look
On dying saints, his eyes compassion shed,
With love illumin’d high. “Fear not,” he said,
“Sweet innocence! thou stranger to offence,
And inward storm! He who yon skies involves
In frowns of darkness, ever smiles on thee
With kind regard. O’er thee the secret shaft
That wastes at midnight, or the undreaded hour
1210 Of noon, flies harmless; and that very voice
Which thunders terror through the guilty heart,
With tongues of seraphs whispers peace to thine.
’Tis safety to be near thee sure, and thus
To clasp perfection!” From his void embrace,
Mysterious Heaven! that moment, to the ground,
A blacken’d corse, was struck the beauteous maid.
But who can paint the lover, as he stood,
Pierc’d by severe amazement, hating life,
Speechless, and fix’d in all the death of woe!
1220 So, faint resemblance, on the marble tomb
The well-dissembled mourner stooping stands,
For ever silent, and for ever sad.
As from the face of heaven the shatter’d clouds
Tumultuous rove, the interminable sky
Sublimer swells, and o’er the world expands
A purer azure. Nature, from the storm,
Shines out afresh; and through the lighten’d air
A higher lustre and a clearer calm,
Diffusive, tremble; while, as if in sign
1230 Of danger past, a glittering robe of joy,
Set off abundant by the yellow ray,
Invests the fields, yet dropping from distress.
’Tis beauty all, and grateful song around,
Join’d to the low of kine, and numerous bleat
Of flocks thick-nibbling through the clover’d vale.
And shall the hymn be marr’d by thankless man,
Most-favour’d; who with voice articulate
Should lead the chorus of this lower world?
Shall he, so soon forgetful of the hand
1240 That hush’d the thunder, and serenes the sky,
Extinguish’d feel that spark the tempest wak’d,
That sense of powers exceeding far his own,
Ere yet his feeble heart has lost its fears?
Cheer’d by the milder beam, the sprightly youth135
Speeds to the well-known pool, whose crystal depth
A sandy bottom shows. A while he stands
Gazing the inverted landscape, half-afraid
To meditate the blue profound below;
Then plunges headlong down the circling flood.
1250 His ebon tresses and his rosy cheek
Instant emerge; and through the obedient wave,
At each short breathing by his lip repell’d,
With arms and legs according well, he makes,
As humour leads, an easy-winding path;
While, from his polish’d sides, a dewy light
Effuses on the pleas’d spectators round.
This is the purest exercise of health,
The kind refresher of the summer heats;
Nor, when cold Winter keens the brightening flood,
1260 Would I weak-shivering linger on the brink.
Thus life redoubles; and is oft preserv’d,
By the bold swimmer, in the swift illapse
Of accident disastrous. Hence the limbs
Knit into force; and the same Roman arm
That rose victorious o’er the conquer’d earth,
First learn’d, while tender, to subdue the wave.136
Even, from the body’s purity, the mind
Receives a secret sympathetic aid.
Close in the covert of an hazel copse,
1270 Where winded into pleasing solitudes
Runs out the rambling dale, young Damon sat;
Pensive, and pierc’d with love’s delightful pangs.
There to the stream that down the distant rocks
Hoarse-murmuring fell, and plaintive breeze that play’d
Among the bending willows, falsely he
Of Musidora’s cruelty complain’d.
She felt his flame; but deep within her breast,
In bashful coyness, or in maiden pride,
The soft return conceal’d—save when it stole
1280 In sidelong glances from her downcast eye,
Or from her swelling soul in stifled sighs.
Touch’d by the scene, no stranger to his vows,
He fram’d a melting lay, to try her heart;
And, if an infant passion struggled there,
To call that passion forth. Thrice-happy swain!
A lucky chance, that oft decides the fate
Of mighty monarchs, then decided thine.
For, lo! conducted by the laughing loves,137
This cool retreat his Musidora sought:
1290 Warm in her cheek the sultry season glow’d;
And, rob’d in loose array, she came to bathe
Her fervent limbs in the refreshing stream.
What shall he do? In sweet confusion lost,
And dubious flutterings, he a while remain’d.
A pure ingenuous elegance of soul,
A delicate refinement known to few,
Perplex’d his breast, and urg’d him to retire;
But love forbade. Ye prudes in virtue, say,
Say, ye severest, what would you have done?
1300 Meantime, this fairer nymph than ever blest
Arcadian stream, with timid eye around
The banks surveying, stripp’d her beauteous limbs,
To taste the lucid coolness of the flood.
Ah! then, not Paris on the piny top
Of Ida panted stronger, when aside
The rival goddesses the veil divine
Cast unconfin’d, and gave him all their charms,
Than, Damon, thou; as from the snowy leg,
And slender foot, the inverted silk she drew;
1310 As the soft touch dissolv’d the virgin zone;138
And, through the parting robe, the alternate breast,
With youth wild-throbbing, on thy lawless gaze
In full luxuriance rose. But, desperate youth,
How durst thou risk the soul-distracting view,
As from her naked limbs, of glowing white,
Harmonious swell’d by Nature’s finest hand,
In folds loose-floating fell the fainter lawn,
And fair-expos’d she stood—shrunk from herself,
With fancy blushing, at the doubtful breeze
1320 Alarm’d, and starting like the fearful fawn?
Then to the flood she rush’d: the parted flood
Its lovely guest with closing waves receiv’d;
And every beauty softening, every grace
Flushing anew, a mellow lustre shed—
As shines the lily through the crystal mild,
Or as the rose amid the morning dew,
Fresh from Aurora’s hand, more sweetly glows.
While thus she wanton’d, now beneath the wave
But ill-conceal’d, and now with streaming locks,
1330 That half-embrac’d her in a humid veil,
Rising again, the latent Damon drew
Such maddening draughts of beauty to the soul,139
As for a while o’erwhelm’d his raptur’d thought
With luxury too daring. Check’d, at last,
By love’s respectful modesty, he deem’d
The theft profane, if aught profane to love
Can e’er be deem’d, and, struggling from the shade,
With headlong hurry fled; but first these lines,
Trac’d by his ready pencil, on the bank
1340 With trembling hand he threw: “Bathe on, my fair,
Yet unbeheld save by the sacred eye
Of faithful love: I go to guard thy haunt;
To keep from thy recess each vagrant foot,
And each licentious eye.” With wild surprise,
As if to marble struck, devoid of sense,
A stupid moment motionless she stood:
So stands the statue13 that enchants the world;
So bending tries to veil the matchless boast,
The mingled beauties of exulting Greece.
1350 Recovering, swift she flew to find those robes
Which blissful Eden knew not; and, array’d
In careless haste, the alarming paper snatch’d.
But when her Damon’s well-known hand she saw,
Her terrors vanish’d, and a softer train140
Of mix’d emotions, hard to be describ’d,
Her sudden bosom seiz’d: shame void of guilt
The charming blush of innocence, esteem
And admiration of her lover’s flame141
By modesty exalted. Even a sense
1360 Of self-approving beauty stole across
Her busy thought. At length, a tender calm
Hush’d by degrees the tumult of her soul;
And on the spreading beech, that o’er the stream
Incumbent hung, she with the sylvan pen
Of rural lovers this confession carv’d,
Which soon her Damon kiss’d with weeping joy:
“Dear youth! sole judge of what these verses mean,
By fortune too much favour’d, but by love,
Alas! not favour’d less, be still as now
1370 Discreet; the time may come you need not fly.”
The sun has lost his rage: his downward orb
Shoots nothing now but animating warmth,
And vital lustre; that, with various ray,
Lights up the clouds, those beauteous robes of heaven,
Incessant roll’d into romantic shapes,
The dream of waking fancy! Broad below,
Cover’d with ripening fruits, and swelling fast
Into the perfect year, the pregnant earth
And all her tribes rejoice. Now the soft hour
1380 Of walking comes: for him who lonely loves142
To seek the distant hills, and there converse
With Nature; there to harmonise his heart,
And in pathetic song to breathe around
The harmony to others. Social friends,
Attun’d to happy unison of soul—
To whose exalting eye a fairer world,
Of which the vulgar never had a glimpse,
Displays its charms—whose minds are richly fraught
With philosophic stores, superior light—
1390 And in whose breast, enthusiastic, burns
Virtue the sons of interest deem romance,
Now call’d abroad enjoy the falling day:
Now to the verdant portico of woods,
To Nature’s vast lyceum, forth they walk;
By that kind school where no proud master reigns,
The full free converse of the friendly heart,
Improving and improv’d. Now from the world,
Sacred to sweet retirement, lovers steal,
And pour their souls in transport, which the sire
1400 Of love approving hears, and calls it good.
Which way, Amanda, shall we bend our course?
The choice perplexes. Wherefore should we choose?143
All is the same with thee. Say, shall we wind
Along the streams? or walk the smiling mead?
Or court the forest glades? or wander wild
Among the waving harvests? or ascend,
While radiant Summer opens all its pride,
Thy hill, delightful Sheen?14 Here let us sweep
The boundless landscape; now the raptur’d eye,
1410 Exulting swift, to huge Augusta send,
Now to the sister-hills15 that skirt her plain,144
To lofty Harrow now, and now to where
Majestic Windsor lifts its princely brow.
In lovely contrast to this glorious view,
Calmly magnificent, then will we turn
To where the silver Thames first rural grows.
There let the feasted eye unwearied stray;
Luxurious, there, rove through the pendent woods
That nodding hang o’er Harrington’s retreat,
1420 And stooping thence to Ham’s embowering walks,
Beneath whose shades, in spotless peace retir’d,
With her the pleasing partner of his heart,
The worthy Queensberry yet laments his Gay,
And polish’d Cornbury woos the willing muse,
Slow let us trace the matchless vale of Thames—
Fair-winding up to where the muses haunt
In Twit’nam’s bowers, and for their Pope implore
The healing god, to royal Hampton’s pile,
To Clermont’s terrac’d height, and Esher’s groves,
1430 Where in the sweetest solitude, embrac’d
By the soft windings of the silent Mole,
From courts and senates Pelham finds repose.
Enchanting vale! beyond whate’er the muse145
Has of Achaia or Hesperia sung!
O vale of bliss! O softly swelling hills!
On which the power of cultivation lies,
And joys to see the wonders of his toil.
Heavens! what a goodly prospect spreads around,
Of hills, and dales, and woods, and lawns, and spires,
1440 And glittering towns, and gilded streams, till all
The stretching landscape into smoke decays!
Happy Britannia! where the queen of arts,
Inspiring vigour, liberty abroad
Walks, unconfin’d, even to thy farthest cots,
And scatters plenty with unsparing hand.
Rich is thy soil, and merciful thy clime;
Thy streams unfailing in the Summer’s drought;
Unmatch’d thy guardian-oaks; thy valleys float
With golden waves; and on thy mountains flocks
1450 Bleat numberless—while, roving round their sides,
Bellow the blackening herds in lusty droves.
Beneath, thy meadows glow, and rise unquell’d
Against the mower’s scythe. On every hand
Thy villas shine. Thy country teems with wealth;
And property assures it to the swain,146
Pleas’d and unwearied in his guarded toil.
Full are thy cities with the sons of art;
And trade and joy, in every busy street,
Mingling are heard: even drudgery himself,
1460 As at the car he sweats, or dusty hews
The palace-stone, looks gay. Thy crowded ports,
Where rising masts an endless prospect yield,
With labour burn, and echo to the shouts
Of hurried sailor, as he hearty waves
His last adieu, and, loosening every sheet,
Resigns the spreading vessel to the wind.
Bold, firm, and graceful, are thy generous youth,
By hardship sinew’d, and by danger fir’d,
Scattering the nations where they go; and first,
1470 Or in the listed plain, or stormy seas.
Mild are thy glories too, as o’er the plans
Of thriving peace thy thoughtful sires preside;
In genius, and substantial learning, high;
For every virtue, every worth, renown’d;
Sincere, plain-hearted, hospitable, kind;
Yet like the mustering thunder when provok’d,
The dread of tyrants, and the sole resource
Of those that under grim oppression groan.
Thy sons of glory many! Alfred thine,
1480 In whom the splendour of heroic war,
And more heroic peace, when govern’d well,
Combine; whose hallow’d name the virtues saint,
And his own muses love—the best of kings.
With him thy Edwards and thy Henries shine,
Names dear to fame; the first who deep impress’d
On haughty Gaul the terror of thy arms,
That awes her genius still. In statesmen thou,
And patriots, fertile. Thine a steady More,148
Who, with a generous though mistaken zeal,
1490 Withstood a brutal tyrant’s useful rage,
Like Cato firm, like Aristides just,
Like rigid Cincinnatus nobly poor—
A dauntless soul erect, who smil’d on death.
Frugal and wise, a Walsingham is thine;
A Drake, who made thee mistress of the deep,
And bore thy name in thunder round the world.
Then flam’d thy spirit high: but who can speak
The numerous worthies of the maiden-reign?
In Ralegh mark their every glory mix’d;
1500 Ralegh, the scourge of Spain! whose breast with all
The sage, the patriot, and the hero burn’d.
Nor sunk his vigour when a coward reign
The warrior fetter’d, and at last resign’d,
To glut the vengeance of a vanquish’d foe.
Then, active still and unrestrain’d, his mind
Explor’d the vast extent of ages past,
And with his prison-hours enrich’d the world;
Yet found no times, in all the long research,
So glorious, or so base, as those he prov’d,
1510 In which he conquer’d, and in which he bled.149
Nor can the muse the gallant Sidney pass,
The plume of war! with early laurels crown’d,
The lover’s myrtle, and the poet’s bay.
A Hampden too is thine, illustrious land,
Wise, strenuous, firm, of unsubmitting soul,
Who stemm’d the torrent of a downward age
To slavery prone, and bade thee rise again,
In all thy native pomp of freedom bold.
Bright, at his call, thy age of men effulg’d;
1520 Of men on whom late time a kindling eye
Shall turn, and tyrants tremble while they read.
Bring every sweetest flower, and let me strew
The grave where Russell lies; whose temper’d blood,
With calmest cheerfulness for thee resign’d,
Stain’d the sad annals of a giddy reign—
Aiming at lawless power, though meanly sunk
In loose inglorious luxury. With him
His friend, the British Cassius16, fearless bled;
Of high determin’d spirit, roughly brave,
1530 By ancient learning to the enlighten’d love
Of ancient freedom warm’d. Fair thy renown
In awful sages and in noble bards;150
Soon as the light of dawning science spread
Her orient ray, and wak’d the muses’ song.
Thine is a Bacon, hapless in his choice;
Unfit to stand the civil storm of state,
And through the smooth barbarity of courts,
With firm but pliant virtue, forward still
To urge his course. Him for the studious shade
1540 Kind Nature form’d, deep, comprehensive, clear,
Exact, and elegant; in one rich soul,
Plato, the Stagyrite, and Tully join’d.
The great deliverer he! who from the gloom
Of cloister’d monks, and jargon-teaching schools,
Led forth the true philosophy, there long
Held in the magic chain of words and forms,
And definitions void: he led her forth,
Daughter of heaven! that slow-ascending still,
Investigating sure the chain of things,
1550 With radiant finger points to heaven again.
The generous Ashley17 thine, the friend of man;
Who scann’d his nature with a brother’s eye,
His weakness prompt to shade, to raise his aim,
To touch the finer movements of the mind,151
And with the moral beauty charm the heart.
Why need I name thy Boyle, whose pious search,
Amid the dark recesses of his works,
The great Creator sought? And why thy Locke,
Who made the whole internal world his own?
1560 Let Newton, pure intelligence, whom God
To mortals lent, to trace his boundless works
From laws sublimely simple, speak thy fame
In all philosophy. For lofty sense,
Creative fancy, and inspection keen
Through the deep windings of the human heart,
Is not wild Shakspere thine and Nature’s boast?
Is not each great, each amiable muse
Of classic ages, in thy Milton met?
A genius universal as his theme,
1570 Astonishing as chaos, as the bloom
Of blowing Eden fair, as heaven sublime.
Nor shall my verse that elder bard forget,
The gentle Spenser, fancy’s pleasing son,
Who, like a copious river, pour’d his song
O’er all the mazes of enchanted ground;
Nor thee, his ancient master, laughing sage,152
Chaucer, whose native manners-painting verse,
Well moralis’d, shines through the Gothic cloud
Of time and language o’er thy genius thrown.
1580 May my song soften, as thy daughters I,
Britannia, hail! for beauty is their own,
The feeling heart, simplicity of life,
And elegance, and taste; the faultless form,
Shap’d by the hand of harmony; the cheek,
Where the live crimson, through the native white
Soft-shooting, o’er the face diffuses bloom,
And every nameless grace; the parted lip,
Like the red rose-bud moist with morning dew,
Breathing delight; and, under flowing jet,
1590 Or sunny ringlets, or of circling brown,
The neck slight-shaded, and the swelling breast;
The look resistless, piercing to the soul,
And by the soul inform’d, when drest in love
She sits high-smiling in the conscious eye.
Island of bliss! amid the subject seas
That thunder round thy rocky coasts, set up,
At once the wonder, terror, and delight,
Of distant nations; whose remotest shore153
Can soon be shaken by thy naval arm;
1600 Not to be shook thyself, but all assaults
Baffling, like thy hoar cliffs the loud sea-wave.
O Thou by whose almighty nod the scale
Of empire rises, or alternate falls,
Send forth the saving virtues round the land,
In bright patrol: white peace, and social love;
The tender-looking charity, intent
On gentle deeds, and shedding tears through smiles;
Undaunted truth, and dignity of mind;
Courage compos’d, and keen; sound temperance,
1610 Healthful in heart and look; clear chastity,
With blushes reddening as she moves along,
Disorder’d at the deep regard she draws;
Rough industry; activity untir’d,
With copious life inform’d, and all awake;
While in the radiant front, superior shines
That first paternal virtue, public zeal—
Who throws o’er all an equal wide survey,
And, ever musing on the common weal,
Still labours glorious with some great design.
1620 Low walks the sun, and broadens by degrees,154
Just o’er the verge of day. The shifting clouds
Assembled gay, a richly gorgeous train,
In all their pomp attend his setting throne.
Air, earth, and ocean, smile immense. And now,
As if his weary chariot sought the bowers
Of Amphitritè and her tending nymphs,
(So Grecian fable sung) he dips his orb;155
Now half-immers’d; and now a golden curve
Gives one bright glance, then total disappears.
1630 For ever running an enchanted round,
Passes the day, deceitful, vain, and void;
As fleets the vision o’er the formful brain,
This moment hurrying wild the impassion’d soul,
The next in nothing lost. ’Tis so to him,
The dreamer of this earth, an idle blank:
A sight of horror to the cruel wretch
Who, all day long in sordid pleasure roll’d,
Himself an useless load, has squander’d vile,
Upon his scoundrel train, what might have cheer’d
1640 A drooping family of modest worth.
But to the generous still-improving mind,
That gives the hopeless heart to sing for joy,
Diffusing kind beneficence around,
Boastless, as now descends the silent dew—
To him the long review of order’d life
Is inward rapture, only to be felt.
Confess’d from yonder slow-extinguish’d clouds,
All ether softening, sober evening takes
Her wonted station in the middle air;156
1650 A thousand shadows at her beck. First this
She sends on earth; then that of deeper dye
Steals soft behind; and then a deeper still,
In circle following circle, gathers round,
To close the face of things. A fresher gale
Begins to wave the wood, and stir the stream,
Sweeping with shadowy gust the fields of corn;
While the quail clamours for his running mate.
Wide o’er the thistly lawn, as swells the breeze,
A whitening shower of vegetable down
1660 Amusive floats. The kind impartial care
Of Nature nought disdains: thoughtful to feed
Her lowest sons, and clothe the coming year,
From field to field the feather’d seeds she wings.
His folded flock secure, the shepherd home
Hies, merry-hearted; and by turns relieves
The ruddy milk maid of her brimming pail;
The beauty whom perhaps his witless heart,
Unknowing what the joy-mix’d anguish means,
Sincerely loves, by that best language shown
1670 Of cordial glances and obliging deeds.
Onward they pass, o’er many a panting height,157
And valley sunk, and unfrequented; where
At fall of eve the fairy people throng,
In various game and revelry to pass
The summer night, as village stories tell.
But far about they wander from the grave158
Of him, whom his ungentle fortune urg’d
Against his own sad breast to lift the hand
Of impious violence. The lonely tower
1680 Is also shunn’d; whose mournful chambers hold,
So night-struck fancy dreams, the yelling ghost.
Among the crooked lanes, on every hedge,
The glow worm lights his gem; and, through the dark,
A moving radiance twinkles. Evening yields
The world to night; not in her winter robe
Of massy Stygian woof, but loose-array’d
In mantle dun. A faint erroneous ray,
Glanc’d from the imperfect surfaces of things,
Flings half an image on the straining eye;
1690 While wavering woods, and villages, and streams,
And rocks, and mountain tops, that long retain’d
The ascending gleam, are all one swimming scene,
Uncertain if beheld. Sudden to heaven
Thence weary vision turns; where, leading soft
The silent hours of love, with purest ray
Sweet Venus shines; and from her genial rise
When day light sickens, till it springs afresh,
Unrivall’d reigns, the fairest lamp of night.159
As thus the effulgence tremulous I drink
1700 With cherish’d gaze, the lambent lightnings shoot
Across the sky; or horizontal dart,
In wondrous shapes—by fearful murmuring crowds
Portentous deem’d. Amid the radiant orbs
That more than deck, that animate the sky,
The life-infusing suns of other worlds,
Lo! from the dread immensity of space
Returning, with accelerated course,
The rushing comet to the sun descends:
And as he sinks below the shading earth,
1710 With awful train projected o’er the heavens,
The guilty nations tremble. But, above160
Those superstitious horrors that enslave
The fond sequacious herd, to mystic faith
And blind amazement prone, the enlighten’d few,
Whose godlike minds philosophy exalts,
The glorious stranger hail. They feel a joy
Divinely great: they in their powers exult,
That wondrous force of thought which mounting spurns
This dusky spot and measures all the sky,
1720 While from his far excursion through the wilds
Of barren ether, faithful to his time,
They see the blazing wonder rise anew,
In seeming terror clad, but kindly bent
To work the will of all-sustaining Love;
From his huge vapoury train perhaps to shake
Reviving moisture on the numerous orbs
Through which his long ellipsis winds—perhaps
To lend new fuel to declining suns,
To light up worlds, and feed the eternal fire.
1730 With thee, serene philosophy, with thee,
And thy bright garland, let me crown my song!
Effusive source of evidence, and truth!
A lustre shedding o’er the ennobled mind,161
Stronger than summer noon; and pure as that
Whose mild vibrations soothe the parted soul,
New to the dawning of celestial day.
Hence through her nourish’d powers, enlarg’d by thee,
She springs aloft, with elevated pride,
Above the tangling mass of low desires
1740 That bind the fluttering crowd; and, angel-wing’d,
The heights of science and of virtue gains,
Where all is calm and clear; with nature round,
Or in the starry regions, or the abyss,
To reason’s and to fancy’s eye displayed:
The first up-tracing, from the dreary void,
The chain of causes and effects to him,
The world-producing Essence, who alone
Possesses being; while the last receives
The whole magnificence of heaven and earth,
1750 And every beauty, delicate or bold,
Obvious or more remote, with livelier sense,
Diffusive painted on the rapid mind.
Tutor’d by thee, hence poetry exalts
Her voice to ages; and informs the page
With music, image, sentiment, and thought,162
Never to die! the treasure of mankind,
Their highest honour, and their truest joy!
Without thee, what were unenlighten’d man?
A savage roaming through the woods and wilds,
1760 In quest of prey; and with the unfashion’d fur
Rough-clad; devoid of every finer art,
And elegance of life. Nor happiness
Domestic, mix’d of tenderness and care,
Nor moral excellence, nor social bliss,
Nor guardian law, were his; nor various skill
To turn the furrow, or to guide the tool
Mechanic; nor the heaven-conducted prow
Of navigation bold, that fearless braves
The burning line or dares the wintry pole,
1770 Mother severe of infinite delights!
Nothing, save rapine, indolence, and guile,
And woes on woes, a still revolving train!
Whose horrid circle had made human life
Than non-existence worse: but, taught by thee,
Ours are the plans of policy and peace;
To live like brothers, and conjunctive all
Embellish life. While thus laborious crowds163
Ply the tough oar, philosophy directs
The ruling helm; or, like the liberal breath
1780 Of potent heaven, invisible, the sail
Swells out, and bears the inferior world along.
Nor to this evanescent speck of earth
Poorly confin’d—the radiant tracts on high
Are her exalted range; intent to gaze
Creation through; and, from that full complex
Of never-ending wonders, to conceive
Of the Sole Being right, who spoke the word,
And nature mov’d complete. With inward view,
Thence on the ideal kingdom swift she turns
1790 Her eye; and instant, at her powerful glance,
The obedient phantoms vanish or appear;
Compound, divide, and into order shift,
Each to his rank, from plain perception up
To the fair forms of fancy’s fleeting train;
To reason then, deducing truth from truth,
And notion quite abstract; where first begins
The world of spirits, action all, and life
Unfettered, and unmix’d. But here the cloud,
So wills Eternal Providence, sits deep.164
1800 Enough for us to know that this dark state,
In wayward passions lost, and vain pursuits,
This infancy of being, cannot prove
The final issue of the works of God,
By boundless Love and perfect Wisdom form’d,
And ever rising with the rising mind.
Note 1. Line 564. p. 101.
And art thou, Stanley, of that sacred band?
A young lady, well known to the author, who died at the age of eighteen, in the year 1738.
Note 2. Line 641. p. 105.
But kind before him sends,
Issuing from out the portals of the morn,
The general breeze.
Which blows constantly between the tropics from the east, or the collateral points, the north-east and south-east: caused by the pressure of the rarefied air on that before it, according to the diurnal motion of the sun from east to west.314
Note 3. Line 645. p. 105.
That see, each circling year,
Returning suns and double seasons pass.
In all places between the tropics, the sun, as he passes and repasses in his annual motion, is twice a year perpendicular, which produces this effect.
Note 4. Line 710. p. 108.
Behold! in plaited mail,
Behemoth rears his head.
The hippopotamus, or river-horse.
Note 5. Line 740. p. 109.
But, if she bids them shine,
Array’d in all the beauteous beams of day,
Yet frugal still, she humbles them in song.
In all the regions of the torrid zone, the birds, though more beautiful in their plumage, are observed to be less melodious than ours.
Note 6. Line 827. p. 114.
Menam’s orient stream, that nightly shines
The river that runs through Siam; on whose banks a vast multitude of those insects called fire-flies make a beautiful appearance in the night.
Note 7. Line 840. p. 114.
The mighty Orellana.
The river of the Amazons.315
Note 8. Lines 984. and 986. p. 121.
The circling typhon, whirl’d from point to point,
Exhausting all the rage of all the sky,
And dire ecnephias, reign.
Typhon and ecnephias, terms for particular storms or hurricanes, known only between the tropics.
Note 9. Line 987. p. 121.
Deep in a cloudy speck
Compress’d, the mighty tempest brooding dwells.
Called by sailors the ox-eye, being in appearance at first no bigger.
Note 10. Line 1001. p. 122.
With such mad seas the daring Gama fought.
Vasco da Gama, the first who sailed round Africa, by the Cape of Good Hope, to the East Indies.
Note 11. Line 1010. p. 123.
The Lusitanian prince.
Dom Henry, third son to John the First, king of Portugal. His strong genius to the discovery of new countries was the chief source of all the modern improvements in navigation.
Note 12. Line 1058. p. 125.
From Ethiopia’s poison’d woods,
From stifled Cairo’s filth, and fetid fields
With locust-armies putrefying heap’d,
This great destroyer sprung.
These are the causes supposed to be the first origin of the plague, in Dr. Mead’s elegant book on that subject. [A short discourse concerning pestilential contagion, &c. London, 1720. 8vo.]316
Note 13. Line 1347. p. 139.
So stands the statue that enchants the world.
The Venus of [the] Medici.
Note 14. Line 1408. p. 143.
While radiant Summer opens all its pride,
Thy hill, delightful Sheen?
The old name of Richmond, [shene] signifying in Saxon shining, or splendour.
Note 15. Line 1411. p. 143.
The sister-hills that skirt her plain.
Highgate and Hampstead.
Note 16. Line 1528. p. 149.
His friend, the British Cassius, fearless bled.
Note 17. Line 1551. p. 150.
The generous Ashley thine, the friend of man.
Anthony Ashley Cooper, Earl of Shaftesbury.
one word, as shown
681 Low-bending, be the full pomegranate scorn’d;
[This sent me to the OED, because the only way I can get it to scan is by pronouncing the beginning of “pomegranate” like the monosyllabic word “pome”. Fortunately there are more variant pronunciations than you can shake a stick at; Thomson wasn’t just exercising poetic license.]
685-86 thou best ananas, thou the pride / Of vegetable life
[“Wenn die Ana in das Wasser fällt, dann wird die Ana nass.” Never mind. I’ll let myself out. In English, the word “ananas” was not decisively replaced by “pineapple” until well into the 19th century.]
806, 808 Gojam’s sunny realm . . . fair Dembea
[Our editor didn’t deign to footnote these, so I had to look them up for myself. Both are in Ethiopia.]
1040-41 Such as, of late, at Cartagena quench’d / The British fire
[Between 1730 and 1746, “Summer” almost doubled in length, thanks in part to topical passages like this one. The battle of Cartagena de Indias, in what is now Colombia, took place in 1741; atypically for naval battles, Britain was soundly trounced. The war as a whole was a bit of a draw, though it did end up with a memorable name, The War of Jenkins’ Ear. Fun fact: Mount Vernon, the Washington family estate, was named in honor of “gallant Vernon”. George’s older half-brother Lawrence was involved in the conflict.]
1144 Down comes a deluge of sonorous hail
[Odd line, isn’t it? Taken in isolation, it comes out as dactyls: DOWN comes a DELuge of SONorous HAIL. The word crops up again at Autumn 481, where the metre demands “soNORous”. As it turns out, sources are evenly divided on pronunciation. The original OED only gives “soNORous”, while the online Cambridge dictionary—perhaps disagreeing with Oxford on general principles—claims this is the American pronunciation, while “SONorous” is British.]
1197-98 her eye / Fell tearful, wetting her disorder’d cheek
[Wouldn’t her disorder’d cheek already be wet from the tempest which is the whole point of this episode? This is not “Wait till the sun shines, Nellie” safe behind a closed window.]
1216 A blacken’d corse, was struck the beauteous maid
[Now there’s an appetizing picture. But how pleased the editor of Chapman’s Iliad would have been at the “corse” spelling. It will crop up again in a later Season.]
1217-18 he stood, / Pierc’d by severe amazement
[I tend to think that if Amelia was struck by lightning while Celadon’s arms were wrapped around her, he wouldn’t have time to feel any amazement, severe or otherwise. He’d be dead too. In fact, I’d have expected him to be struck first, being taller.]
1343-44 To keep from thy recess each vagrant foot, / And each licentious eye
[Damon makes a perfect rom-com hero, doesn’t he? It isn’t stalking or voyeurism if he’s good-looking and he really, really loves her.]
The original of this text is in the public domain—at least in the U.S.
My notes are copyright, as are all under-the-hood elements.
If in doubt, ask.