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Faintly impress the mind, or not at all,
How readily we wish time spent revok'd,
That we might try the ground again, where once
(Through inexperience, as we now perceive)
We miss'd that happiness we might have found !
Some friend is gone, perhaps his son's best friend,
A father, whose authority, in show
When most severe, and must'ring all its force,
Was but the graver countenance of love ;
Whose favour, like the clouds of spring, might
And utter now and then an awful voice,
But had a blessing in its darkest frown,
Threat'ning at once and nourishing the plant.
We lov’d, but not enough, the gentle hand
That rear'd us. At a thoughtless age, allur'd
By ev'ry gilded folly, we renounc'd
His shelt'ring side, and wilfully forewent
That converse, which we now in vain regret.
How gladly would the man recall to life
The boy's neglected sire! a mother too,
That softer friend, perhaps more gladly still,
Might he demand them at the gates of death.
Sorrow bas, since they went, subdu'd and tam'd
The playful humour; he could now endure,
(Himself grown sober in the vale of tears)
And feel a parent's presence no restraint.
But not to understand a treasure's worth,
Till time has stolen away the slighted good,
Is cause of balf the poverty we feel,
And makes the World the wilderness it is.
The few that pray at all pray oft amiss,
And, seeking grace to’improve the prize they hold,
Would urge a wiser suit than asking more.
The night was winter in his roughest mood; The morning sharp and clear. But now at noon Upon the southern side of the slant hills, And where the woods fence off the northern blast, The season smiles, resigning all its rage, And has the warmth of May. The vault is blue Without a cloud, and white without a speck The dazzling splendour of the scene below. Again the harmony comes o'er the vale ; And through the trees I view the embattled tow'r, Whence all the music. I again perceive The soothing influence of the wafted strains, And settle in soft musings as I tread The walk, still verdant, under oaks and elms, Whose outspread branches overarch the glade. The roof, though movable through all its length As the wind sways it, has yet well suffic’d, And, intercepting in their silent fall The frequent flakes, has kept a path for me. No noise is here, or none that hinders thought. The redbreast warbles still, but is content With slender notes, and more than half suppress'd Pleas'd with his solitude, and flitting light From spray to spray, where'er he rests he shakes From many a twig the pendent drops of ice, That tinkle in the wither'd leaves below. Stillness, accompanied with sounds so soft Charms more than silence. Meditation here May think down hours to moments. Here the heart May give a useful lesson to the head, And Learning wiser grow without his books. Knowledge and Wisdom, far from being one, Have ofttimes no connection. Knowledge dwells In heads replete with thoughts of other men;
Wisdom in minds attentive to their own.
Knowledge, a rude unprofitable mass,
The mere materials with which Wisdom builds,
'Till smooth’d, and squar'd, and fitted to its place,
Does but encumber whom it seems to enrich.
Knowledge is proud that he has learn’d so much ;
Wisdom is humble that he knows no more.
Books are not seldom talismans and spells,
By which the magic art of shrewder wits
Holds an unthinking multitude enthrall’d.
Some to the fascination of a name
Surrender judgment hood-wink'd. Some the style
Infatuates, and through labyrinths and wilds
Of error leads them, by a tune entranc'd.
While sloth seduces more, too weak to bear
The' insupportable fatigue of thought,
And swallowing therefore without pause or choice
The total grist unsifted, husks and all.
But trees and rivulets, whose rapid course
Defies the check of winter, haunts of deer,
And sheep-walks populous with bleating lambs,
And lanes, in which the primrose ere her time
Peeps through the moss, that clothes the bawthorn
Deceive no student. Wisdom there, and truth,
Not shy, as in the World, and to be won
By slow sclicitation, seize at once
The roving thought, and fix it on themselves.
What prodigies can pow'r divine perforn:
More grand that it produces year by year,
And all in sight of inattentive man?
Familiar with the effect we slight the cause,
And in the constancy of nature's course,
The regular return of genial months,
And renovation of a faded world,
See nought to wonder at. Should God again,
As once in Gibeon, interrupt the race
Of the undeviating and punctual sun,
How would the World admire ! but speaks it less
An agency divine, to make him know
His moment when to sink, and when to rise,
Age after age, than to arrest his course ?
All we behold is miracle ; but, seen
So duly, all is miracle in vain.
Where now the vital energy, that mov'd,
While summer was, the pure and subtle lymph
Through the’ imperceptible meand'ring veins
Of leaf and flow'r? It sleeps; and the’ icy touch
Of unprolific winter has impressid
A cold stagnation on the intestine tide.
But let the months go round, a few short months,
And all shall be restor'd. These naked shoots,
Barren as lances, among which the wind
Makes wintry music, sighing as it goes,
Shall put their graceful foliage on again,
And more aspiring, and with ampler spread,
Shall boast new charms, and more than they have
Then each, in its peculiar honours clad,
Shall publish even to the distant eye
Its family and tribe. Laburnum, rich
In streaming gold; syringa, iv'ry pure ;
The scentless and the scented rose ; this red,
And of an humbler growth, the other* tall,
And throwing up into the darkest gloom
Of neighb’ring cypress, or more sable yew,
Her silver globes, light as the foamy surf,
That the wind severs from the broken wave;
The lilac, various in array, now white,
Now sanguine, and her beauteous head now set
With purple spikes pyramidal, as if
Studious of ornament, yet unresolv'd
Which hue she most approv'd, she chose them all;
Copious of flow'rs the woodbine, pale and wan,
But well compensating her sickly looks
With never-cloying odours, early and late ;
Hypericum all bloom, so thick a swarm
Of flow'rs, like flies clothing her slender rods,
That scarce a leaf appears; mezereon too,
Though leafless, well attir'd, and thick beset
With blushing wreaths, investing ev'ry spray ;
Althæa with the purple eye ; the broom,
Yellow and bright, as bullion unalloy'd,
Her blossoms; and luxuriant above all
The jasmine, throwing wide her elegant sweets,
The deep dark green of whose unvarnish'd leaf
Makes more conspicuous, and illumines more
The bright profusion of her scatter'd stars.-
These have been, and these shall be in their day ;
And all this uniform uncolour'd scene
Shall be dismantled of its fleecy load,
And flush into variety again.
From dearth to plenty, and from death to life,
Is Nature's progress, when she lectures man
In heav'nly truth; evincing, as she makes
The grand transition, that there lives and works
A soul in all things, and that soul is God.
The beauties of the wilderness are his,
That makes so gay the solitary place,