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SWEET AUBURN I loveliest village of the plain,
Where health and plenty cheer the labouring Where smiling spring its earliest visit paid, And parting summer's lingering blooms delay'd : Dear lovely bowers of innocence and ease, Seats of my youth, when every sport could please, How often have I loiter'd o'er thy green, Where humble happiness endear'd each scene ! How often have I paus’d on every charm, The shelter'd cote, the cultivated farm, The never-failing brook, the busy mill, The decent church that topt the neighbouring hill ; The hawthorn bush, with seats beneath the shade, For talking age and whispering lovers made : How often have I blest the coming day, When toil remitting lent its turn to play, And all the village train, from labour free, Led up their sports beneath the spreading tree ; While many a pastime circled in the shade, The young contending as the old survey'd ; And many a gambol frolic'd o'er the groand, And sleights of art, and feats of strength went round; And still, as each repeated pleasure tir’d, Succeeding sports the mirthful band inspir'd; The dancing pair that simply sought renown By holding out to tire each other down ; The swain mistrustless of his smutted face, While secret laughter titter'd round the place ;
The bashful virgin's side-long looks of love,
The matron's glance that would those looks reprove-
These were thy charms, sweet village ! sports like
With sweet succession, taught e’en toil to please :
These round thy bowers their cheerful influence shed,
These were thy charms—but all these charms are
Sweet smiling village, loveliest of the lawn,
Thy sports are fed, and all thy charms withdrawn ;
Amidst thy bowers the tyrant's hand is seen,
And desolation saddens all thy green :
One only master grasps the whole domain,
And half a tillage stints thy smiling plain.
No more thy glassy brook reflects the day,
But, choak'd with sedges, works its weedy way :
Along thy glades, a solitary guest,
The hollow-sounding bittern guards its nest ;
Amidst thy desert walks the lapwing flies,
And tires iheir echoes with unvaried cries :
Sunk are thy bowers in shapeless ruin all,
And the long grass o'ertops the mould’ring wall,
And trembling, shrinking from the spoiler's hand,
Far, far away thy children leave the land.
ul fares the land, to hast’ning ills a prey,
Where wealth accumulates, and men decay.
Princes and lords may flourish, or may fade ;
A breath can make themi, as a breath has made :
But a bold peasa fry, their country's pride,
When once destroy’d, can never be supply'd.
A time there was, ere England's griefs began,
When every rood of ground maintain’d its man;
For him light Labour spread her wholesoine store,
Just gave what life requir'd, but gave no more ;
His best companions, innocence and health ;
And his best riches, ignorance of wealth.
But times are alter'd : trade's unfeeling train Usurp the land, and dispossess the swain.
Along the lawn, where scatter'd hamlets rose,
Unwieldy wealth and cumbrous pomp repose ;
And every want to luxury ally'd,
And every pang that folly pays to pride.
Those gentle hours that plenty bade to bloom,
Those calm desires that ask'd but little room,
Those healthful sports that grac'd the peaceful scene,
Lird in each look, and brighten'd all the green ;
These, far departing, seek a kinder shore,
And rural mirth and manners are no more.
Sweet AUBURN ! parent of the blissful hour,
Thy glades forlorn confess the tyrant's pow'r.
Here, as I take my solitary rounds,
Amidst thy tangling walks, and ruin'd grounds ;
And, many a year elaps’d, return to view
Where once the cottage stood, the hawthorn grew ;
Here, as with doubtful, pensive steps I range,
Trace every scene and wonder at the change,
Remembrance wakes with all her busy train,
Swells at my breast, and turns the past to pain.
In all my wand'rings round this world of care, In all my griefs-and God has given my shareI still had hopes, my latest hours to crown, Amidst these humble bow’rs to lay me down ; My anxious day to husband near the close, And keep life’s flame from wasting by repose ; I still had hopes, for pride attends us still, Amidst the swains to show my book-learn’d skill, Around my fire an ev'ning group to draw, And tell of all i felt, and all I saw : And, as a hare whom hounds and horns pursue, Pants to the place from whence at first she flew, I still had hopes, my long vexations past, Here to return--and die at home at last.
O blest retirement ! friend to life's decline, Retreat from care that never must be mine. How blest is he who crowns, in shades like these, A youth of labour with an age of ease ;
Who quits a world where strong temptations try,
And since 'tis hard to combat, learns to fly!
For him no wretches, born to work and weep,
Explore the mine, or tempt the dangerous deep ;
No surly porter stands in guilty state,
To spurn imploring famine from the gate ;
But on he moves to meet his latter end,
Angels around befriending virtue's friend ;
Sinks to the grave with unperceiv'd decay,
While resignation gently slopes the way
And all his prospects brightening to the last,
His heaven commences ere the world be past !
Sweet was the sound, when oft at evening's close,
Up yonder hill the village murmur rose :
There, as I pass’d with careless steps and slow,
The mingling notes came soften'd from below ;
The swain responsive as the milk-maid sung,
The sober herd that low'd to meet their young :
The noisy geese that gabbled o'er the pool,
The playful children just let loose from school :
The watch-dog's voice that bay'd the whispering
And the loud laugh that spoke the vacant mind :
These all in soft confusion sought the shade,
And fillid each pause the nightingale had made.
But now the sounds of population fail,
No cheerful murmurs fluctuate in the gale :
No busy steps the grass-grown foot-way tread,
But all the bloomy Aush of life is fled ;
All but yon widow'd, solitary thing,
That feebly bends beside the plashy spring;
She, wretched matron ! forc'd in age, for bread,
To strip the brook with mantling cresses spread,
To pick her wint’ry faggot from the thorn,
To seek her nightly shed,
till morn :
She only left, of all the harmless train,
The sad historian of the pensive plain.
Near yonder copse, where once the garden smild, And still where many a garden flower grows
There, where a few torn shrubs the place disclose,
The village preacher's modest mansion rose.
A man he was to all the country dear,
And passing rich with forty pounds a year ;
Remote from towns he ran his godly race,
Nor e'er had chang’d, nor wish'd to change his place:
Unskilful he to fawn, or seek for power,
By doctrines fashion’d to the varying hour ;
Far other aims his heart had learn'd to prize,
More bent to raise the wretched than to rise.
His house was known to all the vagrant train,
He chid their wand'rings, but reliev'd their pain :
The long remember'd beggar was his guest,
Whose beard descending swept his aged breast ;
The ruin'd spendthrift, now no longer proud,
Claim'd kindred there, and had his claims allow'd ;
The broken soldier kindly bade to stay,
Sat by his fire, and talk'd the night away;
Wept o'er his wounds, or tales of sorrow done,
Shoulder'd his crutch, and show'd how fields were
Pleas’d with his guests, the good man learn’d to
And quite forgot their vices in their woe;
Careless their merits, or their faults to scan,
His pity gave, ere charity began.
Thus to relieve the wretched was his pride,
And ev’n his failings lean to virtue's side ;
But in bis duty prompt at every call,
He watch'd and wept, he pray'd and felt for all.
And, as a bird each fond endearment tries
To tempt her new-fledg’d offspring to the skies,
He try'd each art, reprov'd each dull delay,
Allur'd to brighter worlds, and led the way.
Beside the bed where parting lise was laid,
And sorrow, guilt, and pain, by turns dismay’d,
The reverend champion stood. At his control,
Despair and anguish fled the struggling soul.