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SWEET Auburn, loveliest village of the plain,
The decent church that topt the neighb'ring hill,
Sweet smiling village, loveliest of the lawn, Thy sports are fled, and all thy charms withdrawn; Amidst thy bow'rs, the tyrant's hand is seen, And desolation saddens all thy green: One only master grasps the whole domain, And half a tillage stints thy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 the glassy brook reflects the day,
The hollow-sounding bittern guards its nest:
Ill fares the land, to hast'ning 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 supply'd.
A time there was, ere England's griefs began, When ev'ry rood of ground maintain'd its man; For him light labour spread her wholesome store, Just gave what life requir'd, 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 cumb'rous pomp repose;, And ev'ry want to luxury ally'd,
And ev'ry pang that folly pays to pride.
Those gentle hours that plenty bade to bloom, Those calm desires that ask'd but little room, Those healthful sports that grac'd the peaceful
Liv'd 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, Thy glades forlorn confess the tyrant's power. Here as I take my solitary rounds, Amidst thy tangling walks, thy ruin'd grounds, And many a year claps'd, return to view Where once the cottage stood, the hawthorn grew: Here, as with doubtful, pensive steps I range, Trace ev'ry scene, and wonder at the change,, Remembrance wakes with all her busy train,, Swells at my breast, and turns the past to pain.
In all my wand'rings round this world of care, In all my griefs-and God has giv'n my share I still had hopes, my latest hours to crown; Amidst these humble bowers to lay me down;
I still had hopes, my long vexations past,
O blest retirement, friend to life's decline, Retreats from care, that never must be mine! How blest is he who crowns in shades like these, A youth of labour with an age of peace! 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 dang'rous deep; No surly porter stands in guilty state, To spurn imploring famine from his gate; But on he moves to meet his latter end, Angels around befriending virtue's friend: Sinks to the grave with unperceiv'd decay, While resignation gently slopes the way; And, all his prospects bright'ning to the last. His heav'n commences ere the world be past!
Sweet was the sound, when oft at ev'ning'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 milk-maid sung; The sober herd that low'd to meet their young;
The noisy geese that gabbled o'er the pool,
And the loud laugh that spoke the vacant mind;
That feebly bends beside the plashy spring:
Near yonder copse, where once the garden smil'd, And still where many a garden flow'r 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;