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Sweet Auburn! loveliest village of the plain,
Where health and plenty cheer’d the labouring swain; Where smiling spring its earliest visit paid,
And parting summer’s lingering blooms delay’d.
Dear lovely bowers of innocence and ease,
Seats of my youth, when every sport could please,
How often have I loiter’d o’er thy green,
Where humble happiness endear'd each scene!
How often have I paused on every charm,
The shelter’d cot, the cultivated farm,
The never-failing brook, the busy mill,
The decent church, that topp’d the neighbouring hill,
How often have I bless’d the coming day,
When toil remitting lent its turn to play,
And all the village train, from labour free,
Led up their sports beneath the spreading tree,
The young contending, as the old survey’d;
And many a gambol frolick’d o’er the ground,
And sleights of art, and feats of strength went round.
The dancing pair that simply sought renown,
By holding out, to tire each other down;
The swain mistrustless of his smutted face,
While secret laughter titter’d round the place;
The bashful Virgin’s sidelong looks of love,
The matron’s glance, that would those looks reprove.
These were thy charms, sweet village! sports like these,
With sweet succession, taught e’en toil to please;
These round thy bowers their cheerful influence shed,
These were thy charms—but all these charms are fled. Sweet smiling village, loveliest of the lawn,
Thy sports are fled, and all thy charms withdrawn;
Amidst thy bowers the tyrant’s hand is seen,
And desolation saddens all thy green:
One only master grasps the whole domain,
And half a tillage stints thy smiling plain.
NO more thy glassy brook reflects the day,
But, choked with sedges, works its weedy way;
Along thy glades, a solitary guest,
The hollow sounding bittern guards its nest;
Amidst thy desert walks the lapwing flies,
And tires their echoes, with unvaried cries.
Sunk are thy bowers, in shapeless ruin all,
And the long grass o’ertops the mouldering wall;
And trembling, shrinking from the spoiler’s hand, Far, far away thy children leave the land.
Ill fares the land, to hastening ills a prey, Where wealth accumulates, and men decay: Princes and lords may flourish, or may fade;
A breath can make them, as a breath has made; But a bold peasantry, their country’s pride, When once destroy’d, can never be supplied.
A time there was, ere England’s griefs began, When every rood of ground maintain’d its man; For him light labour spread her wholesome store, Just gave what life required, but gave no more: His best companions, innocence and health; And his best riches, ignorance of wealth.
But times are alter’d; trade’s unfeeling train Usurp the land, and dispossess the swain;
Along the lawn, where scatter’d hamlets rose, Unwieldy wealth, and cumbrous pomp repose; And every want to luxury allied,
And every pang that folly pays to pride.