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THERE is a field, through which I often pass,
Not yet the hawthorn bore her berries red,
The Sun, accomplishing his early march, His lamp now planted on Heaven's topmost arch, When, exercise and air my only aim, And heedless whither, to that field I came, Ere yet with ruthless joy the happy hound Told hill and dale that Reynard's track was found, Or with the high-raised horn's melodious clang All Kilwick and all Dinglederry * rang. Sheep grazed the field; some with soft bosom
press'd The herb as soft, while nibbling stray'd the rest ; Nor noise was heard but of the hasty brook, Struggling, detain’d in many a petty nook. All seem'd so peaceful, that, from them convey'd, To me their peace by kind contagion spread.
But when the huntsman, with distended cheek, 'Gan make his instrument of music speak, And from within the wood that crash was heard, Though not a hound from whom it burst appear'd, The sheep recumbent, and the sheep that grazed, All huddling into phalanx, stood and gazed, Admiring, terrified, the novel strain, Then coursed the field around, and coursed it round
again; But, recollecting with a sudden thought, That flight in circles urged advanced them nought, They gather'd close around the old pit's brink, And thought again-but knew not what to think.
The man to solitude accustom'd long Perceives in every thing that lives à tongue; Not animals alone, but shrubs and trees Have speech for him, and understood with ease; After long drought, when rains abundant fall, He hears the herbs and flowers rejoicing all; Knows what the freshness of their hue implies, How glad they catch the largess of the skies; But, with precision nicer still, the mind He scans of every locomotive kind;
* Two woods belonging to John Throckm
Birds of all feather, beasts of every name,
This truth premised was needful as a text,
Awhile they mused; surveying every face, Thou hadst supposed them of superior race; Their periwigs of wool, and fears combined, Stamp'd on each countenance such marks of mind, That sage they seem'd, as lawyers o'er a doubt, Which, puzzling long, at last they puzzle out; Or academic tutors, teaching youths, Sure ne'er to want them, mathematic truths ; When thus a mutton, statelier than the rest, A ram, the ewes and wethers sad address'd.
Friends! we have lived too long. I never heard Sounds such as these, so worthy to be fear’d. Could I believe, that winds for ages pent In earth's dark womb have found at last a vent, And from their prison-house below arise, With all these hideous howlings, to the skies, I could be much composed, nor should appear, For such a cause, to feel the slightest fear : Yourselves have seen, what time the thunders rollid All night, me resting quiet in the fold ; Or heard we that tremendous bray alone, I could expound the melancholy tone; Should deem it by our old companion made, The ass; for he, we know, has lately stray'd, And being lost perhaps, and wandering wide, Might be supposed to clamour for a guide. But ah! those dreadful yells what soul can hear That owns a carcass, and not quake for fear? Demons produce them, doubtless, brazen-claw'd And fang'd with brass, the demons are abroad; I hold it therefore wisest and most fit, That, life to save, we leap into the pit.
Him answer'd then his loving mate and true, But more discreet than he, a Cambrian ewe.
How! leap into the pit our life to save? To save our life leap all into the grave? For can we find it less ? Contemplate first The depth how awful! falling there, we burst: Or should the brambles, interposed, our fall In part abate, that happiness were small; For with a race like theirs no chance I see of peace or ease to creatures clad as we. Meantime, noise kills not. Be it Dapple's bray, Or be it not, or be it whose it may, And rush those other sounds, that seem by tongues Of demons utter'd, from whatever lungs, Sounds are but sounds; and, till the cause appear, We have at least commodious standing here. Come fiend, come fury, giant, monster, blast From earth or hell, we can but plunge at last.
While thus she spake, I fainter heard the peals, For Reynard, close attended at his heels By panting dog, tired man, and spatter'd horse, Through mere good fortune, took a different course. The flock grew calm again; and I, the road Following, that led me to my own abode, Much wonder'd that the silly sheep had found Such cause of terror in an empty sound, So sweet to huntsman, gentleman, and hound.
Bleeding from the Roman rods,
Sat the Druid, hoary chief;
III. Princess! if our aged eyes
Weep upon thy matchless wrongs, 'Tis because resentment ties All the terrors of our tongues.
IV. Rome shall perish-write that word
In the blood that she has spilt;
Tramples on a thousand states;
Hark! the Gaul is at her gates!