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ODE VII.

TO

CONTENTMENT.

BY THE REV. THOMAS COLE.

To these lone shades, where Peace delights to dwell,

May Fortune oft permit me to retreat:
Here bid the world, with all its cares, farewel,

And leave its pleasures to the rich and great.

Oft as the summer's sun shall cheer this scene
With that mild gleam which points his parting

ray,
Here let my soul enjoy each eve serene,

Here share its calm, 'till life's declining day.

No gladsome image then should 'scape my sight,

From these gay fowers, which border near my eye, To yon bright cloud, that decks, with richest light,

The gilded mantle of the western sky.

With ample gaze I'd trace that ridge remote,

Where opening cliffs disclose the boundless main; With earnest ken from each low hamlet note

The steeple's summit peeping o'er the plain.

What various works that rural landscape fill,

Where mingling hedge-rows beauteous fields inclose; And prudent Culture, with industrious skill,

Her chequer'd scene of crops and fallows shows!

How should I love to mark that riv'let's maze,

Through which it works its untaught course along; Whilst near its grassy banks the herd shall graze, And blithsome milkmaid chaunt her thoughtless

song!

Still would I note the shades of length’ning sheep,

As scatter'd o'er the hill's slant brow they rove; Still note the day's last glimm’ring lustre creep

From off the verge of yonder upland grove.

Nor should my leisure seldom wait to view

The slow-wing'd rooks in homeward train succeed; Nor yet forbear the swallow to pursue,

With quicker glance, close skimming o'er the mead.

But mostly here should I delight to explore

The bounteous laws of Nature's mystic power; Then muse on Him who blesseth all her store,

And give to solemn thoughts the sober hour.

Let mirth unenvy'd laugh with proud disdain,

And deem it spleen one moment thus to waste ; If so she keep far hence her noisy train,

Nor interrupt those joys she cannot taste.

Far sweeter streams shall flow from Wisdom's spring,

Than she receives from Folly's costliest bowl ; And what delights can her chief dainties bring,

Like those which feast the heavenly-pensive soul ?

Hail, Silence, then! be thou my frequent guest;

For thou art wont my gratitude to raise, As high as wonder can the theme suggest,

Whene'er I meditate my Maker's praise.

What joy for tutor'd Piety to learn

All that my Christian solitude can teach, Where weak-ey'd Reason's self may well discern

Each clearer truth the gospel deigns to preach?

No object here but may convince the mind

Of more than thoughtful honesty shall need; Nor can Suspense long question here to find

Sufficient evidence to fix its creed.

'Tis God that gives this bower its awful gloom ;

His arched verdure does its roof invest;
He breathes the life of fragrance on its bloom ;

And with his kindness makes its owner blest.

1

Oh, may the guidance of thy grace attend

The use of all thy bounty shall bestow;
Lest folly should mistake its sacred end,

Or vice convert it into means of woe.

Incline and aid me still my life to steer,

As conscience dictates what to shun or chuse ; Nor let my heart feel anxious hope or fear,

For aught this world can give me or refuse.

Then shall not wealth's parade one wish excite,

For wretched state to barter peace away ;
Nor vain ambition's lure my pride invite,

Beyond Contentment's humble path to stray.

What though thy wisdom may my lot deny,

The treasur'd plenty freely to dispense ;
Yet well thy goodness can that want supply

With larger portions of benevolence.

And sure the heart that wills the gen’rous deed

May all the joys of Charity command ;
For she best loves from notice to recede,

And deals her unsought gifts with secret hand.

Then will I sometimes bid my fancy steal

That unclaim'd wealth no property restrains; Soothe with fictitious aid my friendly zeal,

And realize each godly act she feigns.

So shall I gain the gold without alloy ;

Without oppression, toil, or treach'rous snares; So shall I know its use, its power employ,

And yet avoid its dangers and its cares.

And, spite of all that boastful wealth can do,

In vain would Fortune strive the rich to bless, Where they not flatter'd with some distant view

Of what she ne'er can give them to possess.

E'en Wisdom's high conceit great wants would feel,

If not supply'd from Fancy's boundless store ; And nought but shame makes power itself conceal,

That she, to satisfy, must promise more.

But though experience will not fail to show,

Howe'er its truth man's weakness may upbraid, That what he mostly values here below,

Owes half its relish to kind Fancy's aid;

Yet should not Prudence her light wing command,

She may too far extend her heedless Aight; For Pleasure soon shall quit her fairy-land

If Nature's regions are not held in sight.

From Truth's abode, in search of kind deceit,

Within due limits she may safely roam ; If roving does not make her hate retreat,

And with aversion shun her proper home.

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