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The birds of the grove have ceased their warblings; they sleep on the boughs of trees, each one with his head behind his wing. The chickens of the farm-yard are gathered under the wing of the hen, and are at rest; the hen, their parent, is at rest also. There is no murmur of bees around the hive, or amongst the honeyed woodbines; they have finished their work, and now lie close in their waxen cells.
The sheep rest in the fields upon their soft fleeces, and their loud bleating no longer resounds from the hills. There is no sound of the voice of the busy multitude, or of children at play, or the trampling of feet and of crowds hurrying to and fro. The smith's hammer is not heard upon the anvil; nor the harsh saw of the carpenter. All men are stretched upon their quiet beds; and the infant reposes in peace and security on the bosom of its mother. Darkness is spread over the skies, and darkness is upon the ground: every eye is shut, and every hand is still.
Who takes care of all people when they are sunk in sleep; when they cannot defend themselves, nor see if danger approaches? There is an eye that never sleeps; there is an eye that sees in the darkness of night as well as in the brightest sunshine. When there is no light of the sun, nor of the moon; when there is no lamp in the house, nor any star twinkling through the thick clouds; that eye sees everywhere, in all places, and watches continually over all the families of the earth.
The eye that sleeps not is God's; his hand is always stretched out over us. He made sleep, to refresh us when we are weary: he made night, that we might sleep in quiet. As the affectionate mother stills every little noise that her infant be not disturbed; as she draws the curtains around its bed, and shuts out the light from its tender eyes; so God draws the curtains of darkness around us; so he makes all things to be hushed and still that his large family may sleep in
When the darkness has passed away, and the beams of the morning sun strike through your eyelids, begin the day with praising God, who has taken care of you through the night. Flowers, when you open again, spread your leaves and smell sweet to his praise. Birds, when you awake, warble your thanks amongst the green boughs! Let his praise be in our hearts when we lie down; let his praise be on our lips when we awake.
BUT see the fading many-coloured woods,
Shade deepening over shade, the country round
Imbrown; a crowded umbrage dusk and dun,
Of every hue from wan declining green
To sooty dark. These now the lonesome muse,
Low-whispering, lead into their leaf-strown walks;
And give the season in its latest view.
Meantime, light shadowing all, a sober calm
Fleeces unbounded ether: whose least wave
Stands tremulous, uncertain where to turn
The gentle current: while illumin'd wide,
The dewy-skirted clouds imbibe the sun,
And through their lucid veil his softened force
Shed o'er the peaceful world. Then is the time
For those whom virtue and whom nature charm
To steal themselves from the degenerate crowd,
And soar above this little scene of things;
To tread low-thoughted vice beneath their feet,
To soothe the throbbing passions into peace;
And woo lone quiet in her silent walks.
Thus solitary, and in pensive guise,
Oft let me wander o'er the russet mead,
And through the sadden'd grove, where scarce is heard
One dying strain, to cheer the woodman's toil.
Haply some widow'd songster pours his plaint,
Far, in faint warblings, through the tawny copse;
While congregated thrushes, linnets, larks,
And each wild throat, whose artless strains so late
Swell'd all the music of the swarming shades,
Robb'd of their tuneful souls, now shivering sit
On the dead tree, a dull despondent flock!
With not a brightness waving o'er their plumes,
And naught save chattering discord in their note.
Oh, let not, aim'd from some inhuman eye,
The gun the music of the coming year
Destroy; and harmless, unsuspecting harm,
Lay the weak tribes a miserable prey,
In mingled murder, fluttering on the ground!
The pale descending year, yet pleasing still,
A gentler mood inspires; for now the leaf
Incessant rustles from the mournful grove-
Oft startling such as, studious, walk below,
And slowly circles through the waving air.
But should a quicker breeze amid the boughs
Sob, o'er the sky the leafy deluge streams;
Till, chok'd, and matted with the dreary shower,
The forest-walks, at every rising gale,
Roll wide the wither'd waste, and whistle bleak.
Fled is the blasted verdure of the fields;
And, shrunk into their beds, the flowery race
sunny robes resign. Even what remain'd
Of bolder fruits falls from the naked tree;
And woods, fields, gardens, orchards, all around
The desolated prospect thrills the soul. . . .
The western sun withdraws the shorten'd day,
And humid evening, gliding o'er the sky,
In her chill progress, to the ground condens'd
The vapours throw. Where creeping waters ooze,
Where marshes stagnate, and where rivers wind,
Cluster the rolling fogs, and swim along
The dusky-mantled lawn. Meanwhile the moon,
Full-orb'd, and breaking through the scatter'd clouds,
Shows her broad visage in the crimson'd east.
Turn'd to the sun direct her spotted disk,
Where mountains rise, umbrageous dales descend,
And caverns deep as optic tube descries,
A smaller earth, gives us his blaze again,
Void of its flame, and sheds a softer day.
Now through the passing cloud she seems to stoop,
Now up the pure cerulean rides sublime.
Wide the pale deluge floats, and streaming mild
O'er the skied mountain to the shadowy vale,
While rocks and floods reflect the quivering gleam,
The whole air whitens with a boundless tide
Of silver radiance, trembling round the world. . . .
The lengthened night elaps'd, the morning shines
Serene, in all her dewy beauty bright,
Unfolding fair the last autumnal day.
And now the mounting sun dispels the fog;
The rigid hoar-frost melts before his beam;
And, hung on every spray, on every blade
grass, the myriad dew-drops twinkle round.
The world's foundations first were laid,
Come, visit every pious mind;
Come, pour thy joys on human kind;
* "Come, Creator!" from the first two words of a Latin hymn.
From sin and sorrow set us free,
And make thy temples worthy Thee.
O Source of uncreated light,
The Father's promised Paraclete !*
Thrice holy fount, thrice holy fire,
Our hearts with heavenly love inspire,
Come, and thy sacred unction bring
To sanctify us while we sing.
Plenteous of grace, descend from high,
Rich in thy sevenfold energy!
Thou strength of His Almighty hand
Whose power does heaven and earth commano
Proceeding Spirit, our defence,
Who dost the gift of tongues dispense,
And crownst thy gifts with eloquence.
Refine and purge our earthly parts;
But, oh, inflame and fire our hearts!
Our frailties help, our vice control,
Submit the senses to the soul;
And when rebellious they are grown,
Then lay thine hand, and hold them down.
Chase from our minds the infernal foe,
And peace, the fruit of love, bestow;
And lest our feet should step astray,
Protect and guide us in the way.
Make us eternal truths receive,
And practise all that we believe:
Give us thyself, that we may see
The Father, and the Son, by Thee.
Immortal honour, endless fame,
Attend the Almighty Father's name:
The Saviour Son be glorified,
Who for lost man's redemption died:
And equal adoration be,
Eternal Paraclete, to thee!
* Paraclete, a Greek word, signifying "comforter."