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Abandon'd, and, which still I more regret,
Infected with the manners and the modes
It knew not once, the country wins me still.
I never framed a wish, or form'd a plan,
That flatter'd me with hopes of earthly bliss,
But there I laid the scene. There early stray'd,
My fancy, ere yet liberty of choice

Had found me, or the hope of being free.
My very dreams were rural; rural too
The first-born efforts of my youthful muse,
Sportive and jingling her poetic bells,

Ere yet her ear was mistress of their powers.
No bard could please me but whose lyre was tuned
To Nature's praises. Heroes and their feats
Fatigued me, never weary of the pipe
Of Tityrus, assembling, as he sang,

The rustic throng beneath his favourite beech.
Then Milton had indeed a poet's charms:
New to my taste, his Paradise surpass'd
The struggling efforts of my boyish tongue,
To speak its excellence. I danced for joy.
I marvell❜d much, that, at so ripe an age
As twice seven years, his beauties had then first
Engaged my wonder; and admiring still,
And still admiring, with regret supposed
The joy half lost, because not sooner found.
There too, enamour'd of the life I loved,
Pathetic in its praise, in its pursuit
Determined, and possessing it at last

With transports, such as favour'd lovers feel,
I studied, prized, and wish'd that I had known
Ingenious Cowley! and, though now reclaim'd
By modern lights from an erroneous taste,
I cannot but lament thy splendid wit
Entangled in the cobwebs of the schools.

I still revere thee, courtly though retired!

Though stretch'd at ease in Chertsey's silent bowers, Not unemploy'd; and finding rich amends

For a lost world in solitude and verse.

'Tis born with all: the love of Nature's works

Is an ingredient in the compound man

Infused at the creation of the kind.

And, though the Almighty Maker has throughout
Discriminated each from each, by strokes
And touches of his hand, with so much art
Diversified, that two were never found
Twins at all points-yet this obtains in all,
That all discern a beauty in his works,

And all can taste them: minds that have been form'd
And tutor'd with a relish more exact,

But none without some relish, none unmoved.
It is a flame that dies not even there,

Where nothing feeds it: neither business, crowds,
Nor habits of luxurious city-life,

Whatever else they smother of true worth
In human bosoms, quench it or abate.
The villas with which London stands begirt,
Like a swarth Indian, with his belt of beads,
Prove it. A breath of unadulterate air,

The glimpse of a green pasture, how they cheer
The citizen, and brace his languid frame !
E'en in the stifling bosom of the town

A garden, in which nothing thrives, has charms
That soothe the rich possessor; much consoled,
That here and there some sprigs of mournful mint,
Of nightshade, or valerian, grace thee well,
He cultivates. These serve him with a hint
That Nature lives; that sight-refreshing green
Is still the livery she delights to wear,

Though sickly samples of the exuberant whole.
What are the casements lined with creeping herbs,
The prouder sashes fronted with a range
Of orange, myrtle, or the fragrant weed,
The Frenchman's darling ?* are they not all proofs,
That man, immured in cities, still retains
His inborn inextinguishable thirst

Of rural scenes, compensating his loss
By supplementary shifts, the best he may?
The most unfurnish'd with the means of life,
And they, that never pass their brick-wall bounds,
To range the fields and treat their lungs with air,
Yet feel the burning instinct: over head
Suspend their crazy boxes, planted thick

* Mignonnette.

And water'd duly. There the pitcher stands
A fragment, and the spoutless tea-pot there;
Sad witnesses how close-pent man regrets
The country, with what ardour he contrives
A peep at Nature, when he can no more.
Hail, therefore, patroness of health and ease,
And contemplation, heart-consoling joys,
And harmless pleasures, in the throng'd abode
Of multitudes unknown; hail, rural life!
Address himself who will to the pursuit
Of honours, or emolument, or fame;
I shall not add myself to such a chase,
Thwart his attempts, or envy his success.
Some must be great. Great offices will have
Great talents; and God gives to every man
The virtue, temper, understanding, taste,
That lifts him into life, and lets him fall
Just in the niche he was ordain'd to fill.
To the deliverer of an injured land

He gives a tongue to enlarge upon, a heart
To feel, and courage to redress her wrongs:
To monarchs dignity; to judges sense;
To artists ingenuity and skill;

To me, an unambitious mind, content
In the low vale of life, that early felt

A wish for ease and leisure, and ere long

Found here that leisure and that ease I wish'd.

THE TASK.

BOOK V.

THE ARGUMENT.

A frosty morning.-The foddering of cattle.-The woodman and his dog. The poultry.-Whimsical effects of frost at a waterfall. The empress of Russia's palace of ice.-Amusements of monarchs.-War one of them.-Wars, whence.-And whence monarchy. The evils of it.-English and French loyalty contrasted. The Bastille, and a prisoner there.-Liberty the chief recommendation of this country.-Modern patriotism questionable, and why.-The perishable nature of the best human institutions.-Spiritual liberty not perishable.-The slavish state of man by nature.-Deliver him, Deist, if you can.-Grace must do it.-The respective merits of patriots and martyrs stated. Their different treatment.-Happy freedom of the man whom grace makes free.-His relish of the works of God. -Address to the Creator.

THE WINTER MORNING WALK.

'Tis morning; and the sun, with ruddy orb
Ascending, fires th' horizon; while the clouds,
That crowd away before the driving wind,
More ardent as the disk emerges more,
Resemble most some city in a blaze,

Seen through the leafless wood. His slanting ray
Slides ineffectual down the snowy vale,
And, tingeing all with his own rosy hue,
From every herb and every spiry blade
Stretches a length of shadow o'er the field.
Mine, spindling into longitude immense,
In spite of gravity, and sage remark
That I myself am but a fleeting shade,
Provokes me to a smile. With eye askance
I view the muscular proportion'd limb
Transform'd to a lean shank. The shapeless pair
As they design'd to mock me, at my side

Take step for step; and, as I near approach
The cottage, walk along the plaster'd wall,
Preposterous sight! the legs without the man.
The verdure of the plain lies buried deep
Beneath the dazzling deluge; and the bents,
And coarser grass, upspearing o'er the rest,
Of late unsightly and unseen, now shine
Conspicuous, and in bright apparel clad,
And, fledged with icy feathers, nod superb.
The cattle mourn in corners, where the fence
Screens them, and seem half petrified to sleep
In unrecumbent sadness. There they wait
Their wonted fodder; not like hungering man,
Fretful if unsupplied; but silent, meek,
And patient of the slow-paced swain's delay.
He from the stack carves out the accustom'd load,
Deep-plunging, and again deep-plunging oft,
His broad keen knife into the solid mass:
Smooth as a wall the upright remnant stands,
With such undeviating and even force
He severs it away: no heedless care,
Lest storms should overset the leaning pile
Deciduous, or its own unbalanced weight.
Forth goes the woodman, leaving unconcern'd
The cheerful haunts of man; to wield the axe,
And drive the wedge, in yonder forest drear,
From morn to eve his solitary task.

Shaggy, and lean, and shrewd, with pointed ears,
And tail cropp'd short, half lurcher and half cur,
His dog attends him. Close behind his heel
Now creeps he slow; and now, with many a frisk
Wide-scampering, snatches up the drifted snow
With ivory teeth, or ploughs it with his snout;
Then shakes his powder'd coat, and barks for joy.
Heedless of all his pranks, the sturdy churl
Moves right toward the mark; nor stops for aught,
But now and then with pressure of his thumb
To adjust the fragrant charge of a short tube,
That fumes beneath his nose: the trailing cloud
Streams far behind him, scenting all the air.
Now from the roost, or from the neighbouring pale,
Where, diligent to catch the first faint gleam

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