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These gentle hours that plenty bade to bloom,
Those calm desires that ask’d but little room,
Those healthful sports that graced the peaceful scene, Lived in each look, and brighten’d all the green; These, far departing, seek a kinder shore;
And rural mirth and manners are no more.
Sweet Auburn! parent of the blissful hour,
Amidst thy tangling walks, and mind grounds,
Where once the cottage stood, the hawthorn grew,
In all my wanderings round this world of care,
To husband out life’s taper at the close,
I still had hopes, for pride attends us still,
And tell of all I felt, and all I saw:
And as an hare, whom bounds and horns pursue, Pants to the place from whence at first she flew,
I still had hopes, my long vexations pass’d,
Here to return—and die at home at last.
O bless'd retirement, friend to life’s decline, Retreats from care, that never must be mine; How happy he who crowns, in shades like these, A youth of labour with an age of ease;
Who quits a world where strong temptations try, And, since 'tis hard to combat, learns to fly!
For him no wretches, born to work and weep, Explore the mine, or tempt the dangerous deep; No surly porter stands, in guilty state,
To spurn imploring famine from the gate;
But on he moves to meet his latter end,
Angels around befriending virtue’s friend;
Sinks to the grave with unperceived decay,
While resignation gently slopes the way;
And, all his prospects brightening to the last,
His heaven commences ere the world be pass’d! Sweet was the sound, when oft, at evening’s close,
Up yonder hill the village murmur rose;
There, as I pass’d with careless steps and slow,
The mingling notes came soften’d from below;
The swain responsive as the milkmaid sung,
The sober herd that low’d to meet their young,
The noisy geese that gabbled o’er the pool,
The playful children just let loose from school,
The watch-dog’s voice that bay’d the whispering wind,
And the loud laugh that spoke the vacant mind;
These all, in sweet confusion, sought the shade,
And fill’d each pause the nightingale had made.
But now the sounds of population fail,
No cheerful murmurs fluctuate in the gale;
No busy steps the grass-grown footway tread,
For all the bloomy flush of life is fled.
All but yon widow'd, solitary thing,
That feebly bends beside the plashy spring;
To seek her nightly shed, and weep till morn;
The sad historian of the pensive plain.
Near yonder copse, where once the garden smiled, And still where many a garden flower grows wild; There, where a few torn shrubs the place disclose, The village preacher’s modest mansion rose.
A man he was to all the country dear,
And passing rich, with forty pounds a year;
Remote from towns he ran his godly race,
Nor e’er had changed, nor wish’d to change his place; Unskilful he to fawn, or seek for power,
By doctrines fashion’d to the varying hour;
Far other aims his heart had learn’d to prize,
More bent to raise the wretched, than to rise.