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A cottage, whither oft we since repair:
"Tis perch'd upon the green hill top, but close
Environ'd with a ring of branching elms,
That overhang the thatch, itself unseen
Peeps at the vale below; so thick beset
With foliage of such dark redundant growth,
I call’d the low-roof'd lodge the peasant's nest.
And, hidden as it is, and far remote
From such unpleasing sounds, as haunt the ear
In village or in town, the bay of curs
Incessant, clinking hammers, grinding wheels,
And infants clam'rous whether pleas'd or pain’d,
Oft have I wish'd the peaceful covert mine.
Here, I have said, at least I should possess
The poet's treasure, silence, and indulge
The dreams of fancy, tranquil and secure.
Vain thought! the dweller in that still retreat
Dearly obtains the refuge it affords.
It's elevated site forbids the wretch
To drink sweet waters of the crystal well;
He dips his bowl into the weedy ditch,
And, heavy laden, brings his bev'rage home,
Far fetch'd and little worth; nor seldom waits,
Dependant on the baker's punctual call,
To hear his creaking panniers at the door,
Angry, and sad, and his last crust consum'd.
So farewell envy of the peasant's nest!
If solitude make scant the means of life,
Society for me!—thou seeming sweet,
Be still a pleasing object in my view;
My visit still, but never mine abode.
Not distant far, a length of colonnade
Monument of ancient taste,
Now scorn’d, but worthy of a better fate.
Our fathers knew the value of a screen
From sultry suns: and, in their shaded walks
And long protracted bow'rs, enjoy’d at noon
The gloom and coolness of declining day.
We bear our shades about us; self-depriv'd
Of other screen, the thin umbrella spread,
And range an Indian waste without a tree.
Thanks to Benevolus* -he spares me yet
These chesnuts rang’d in corresponding lines;
And, though himself so polish'd, still reprieves
The obsolete prolixity of shade.
* John Courtney Throckmorton, Esq. of Weston Underwood.
Descending now (but cautious, lest too fast) A sudden steep upon a rustic bridge, We pass a gulph, in which the willows dip Their pendent boughs, stooping as if to drink. Hence, ancle deep in moss and flow'ry thyme, We mount again, and feel at ev'ry step Our foot half sunk in hillocks green and soft, Rais’d by the mole, the miner of the soil. He, not unlike the great ones of mankind, Disfigures Earth: and, plotting in the dark, Toils much to earn a monumental pile, That may
record the mischiefs he has done.
The summit gain’d, behold the proud alcove, That crowns it! yet not all it's pride secures The grand retreat from injuries impress'd By rural carvers, who with knives deface The pannels, leaving an obscure rude name, In characters uncouth, and spelt amiss. So strong the zeal t immortalize himself Beats in the breast of man, that ev'n a few, Few transient years, won from th' abyss abhorr'd Of blank oblivion, seem a glorious prize, And even to a clown. Now roves the eye;
And, posted on this speculative height,
Exults in it's command. The sheepfold here
Pours out it's fleecy tenants o'er the glebe.
At first, progressive as a stream, they seek
The middle field; but, scatter'd by degrees,
Each to his choice, soon whiten all the land.
There from the sunburnt hayfield homeward
The loaded wain; while, lighten'd of it's charge,
The wain that meets it passes swiftly by;
The boorish driver leaning o'er his team
Vocif'rous, and impatient of delay.
Nor less attractive is the woodland scene,
Diversified with trees of ev'ry growth,
Alike, yet various. Here the gray smooth trunks
Of ash, or lime, or beech, distinctly shine,
Within the twilight of their distant shades;
There, lost behind a rising ground, the wood
Seems sunk, and shorten'd to it's topmost boughs.
No tree in all the grove but has it's charms,
Though each it's hue peculiar; paler some,
And of a wannish gray; the willow such,
And poplar, that with silver lines his leaf,
And ash far-stretching his umbrageous arm;
Of deeper green the elm; and deeper still,
Lord of the woods, the long-surviving oak.
Some glossy-leav'd, and shining in the sun,
The maple, and the beech of oily nuts
Prolific, and the lime at dewy eve
Diffusing odours: nor unnoted pass
The sycamore, capricious in attire,
Now green, now tawny, and, ere autumn yet
Have chang'd the woods, in scarlet honours bright.
O'er these, but far beyond (a spacious map
Of hill and valley interpos'd between),
The Ouse, dividing the well-water'd land,
Now glitters in the sun, and now retires,
As bashful, yet impatient to be seen.
Hence the declivity is sharp and short,
And such the reascent; between them weeps
A little naiad her impov'rish'd urn
All summer long, which winter fills again.
The folded gates would bar my progress now,
But that the lord * of this enclos'd demesne,
Communicative of the good he owns,