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Burst from the groves! and when the restless day,
Expiring, lays the warbling world asleep,
Sweetest of birds! sweet Philomela, charm
The listening shades, and teach the night His praise. 80
Ye chief, for whom the whole creation smiles,
At once the head, the heart, and tongue of all,
Crown the great hymn! in swarming cities vast,
Assembled men, to the deep organ join
The long-resounding voice, oft breaking clear
At solemn pauses, through the swelling base;
And, as each mingling flame increases each,
In one united ardour rise to heaven.
Or if you rather choose the rural shade,
And find a fane in every
90 There let the shepherd's flute, the virgin's lay, The prompting seraph, and the poet's lyre, Still sing the God of Seasons, as they roll. For me, when I forget the darling theme, Whether the blossom blows, the Summer ray 95 Russets the plain, inspiring Autumn gleams, Or Winter rises in the blackening east; Be my tongue mute, my fancy paint no more, And, dead to joy, forget, my heart, to beat! Should fate command me to the farthest verge
And wing my mystic flight to future worlds,
I cheerful will obey; there, with new powers,
Will rising wonders sing. I cannot go
Where Universal Love not smiles around,
Sustaining all yon orbs, and all their suns;
From seeming Evil still educing Good,
And better thence again, and better still,
115 In infinite progression. But I lose Myself in Him, in Light ineffable : Come then, expressive Silence, muse his praise.
Soon as the morning trembles o'er the sky,
And, unperceived, unfolds the spreading day;
Before the ripen'd field the reapers stand,
In fair array; each by the lass he loves,
To bear the rougher part, and mitigate
By nameless gentle offices her toil.
At once they stoop, and swell the lusty sheaves ;
While through their cheerful band the rural talk,
The rural scandal, and the rural jest,
Fly harmless, to deceive the tedious time, 10
And steal unfelt the sultry hours away.
Behind the master walks, builds up the shocks;
And, conscious, glancing oft on every side
His sated eye, feels his heart heave with joy.
The gleaners spread around, and here and there, 15
Spike after spike, their scanty harvest pick.
Be not too narrow, husbandmen! but fling
From the full sheaf, with charitable stealth,
The liberal handful. Think, 0, grateful think!
How good the God of Harvest is to you;
20 Who pours
abundance o'er your flowing fields ; While these unhappy partners of your
kind Wide hover round you, like the fowls of heaven, And ask their humble dole. The various turns Of fortune ponder; that your sons may want
with hard reluctance, faint ye give.
The lovely young Lavinia once had friends;
And Fortune smiled deceitful on her birth;
For, in her helpless years deprived of all,
Of every stay, save Innocence and Heaven, 30
She, with her widow'd mother, feeble, old,
poor, lived in a cottage, far retired
Among the windings of a woody vale;
By solitude and deep surrounding shades,
But more by bashful modesty, conceal'd.
Together thus they shunn'd the cruel scorn
Which Virtue, sunk to poverty, would meet
From giddy passion and low-minded pride;
Almost on Nature's common bounty fed;
them to repose, Content, and careless of to-morrow's fare. Her form was fresher than the morning rose, When the dew wets its leaves; unstain'd and pure, As is the lily or the mountain snow. The modest virtues mingled in her eyes,
45 Still on the ground dejected, darting all Their humid beams into the blooming flowers ; Or when the mournful tale her mother told, Of what her faithless fortune promised once, Thrill’d in her thought, they, like the dewy star 50 Of evening, shone in tears. A native grace
Sat fair proportion'd on her polish'd limbs,
Veil'd in a simple robe, their best attire,
of dress; for loveliness
Needs not the foreign aid of ornament,
But is when unadorn'd adorn'd the most.
Thoughtless of beauty, she was Beauty's self,
Recluse amid the close-embowering woods.
As in the hollow breast of Apennine,
Beneath the shelter of encircling hills
A myrtle rises, far from human eye,
And breathes its balmy fragrance o'er the wild;
So flourish'd-blooming, and unseen by all,
The sweet Lavinia; till, at length, compellid
By strong Necessity's supreme command,
With smiling patience in her looks, she went
To glean Palemon's fields. The pride of swains
Palemon was, the generous and the rich;
Who led the rural life in all its joy
And elegance, such as Arcadian song
Transmits from ancient uncorrupted times;
When tyrant custom had not shackled man,
But free to follow Nature was the mode.
He then, his fancy with autumnal scenes
Amusing, chanced beside his reaper-train
To walk, when poor Lavinia drew his eye,
Unconscious of her power, and turning quick
With unaffected blushes from his gaze:
He saw her charming, but he saw not half
The charms her downcast modesty conceal’d.
That very moment love and chaste desire
Sprung in his bosom to himself unknown;
For still the world prevail’d, and its dread laugh,
Which scarce the firm philosopher can scorn,
Should his heart own a gleaner in the field; 85
And thus in secret to his soul he sigh’d:
“What pity, that so delicate a form,
By beauty kindled, where enlivening sense
And more than vulgar goodness seem to dwell,
Should be devoted to the rude embrace
Of some indecent clown! She looks, methinks,
Of old Acasto's line; and to my mind
Recalls that patron of my happy life,
From whom my liberal fortune took its rise;
Now to the dust gone down; his houses, lands, 95
And once fair-spreading family, dissolved.
'T is said that in some lone obscure retreat,
Urged by remembrance sad, and decent pride,
Far from those scenes which knew their better days,
His aged widow and his daughter live,
100 Whom yet my fruitless search could never find. Romantic wish! would this the daughter were !"
When, strict inquiring, from herself he found She was the same, the daughter of his friend, Of bountiful Acasto; who can speak
105 The mingled passions that surprised his heart, And through his nerves in shivering transport ran ? Then blazed his smother'd flame, avow'd and bold; And as he view'd her, ardent, o'er and o'er, Love, gratitude, and pity, wept at once.
110 Confused and frighten'd at his sudden tears, Her rising beauties flush'd a higher bloom, As thus Palemon, passionate and just, Pour'd out the pious rapture of his soul:
“ Add art thou then Acasto's dear remains ? 115