« السابقةمتابعة »
Soon as the morning trembles o'er the sky, And, unperceiv'd, unfolds the spreading day Before the ripen' d field the reapers stand In fair array; each by the lass he loves, To bear the rougher part, and mitigate By nameless gentle offices her toil. At once they stoop and swell the lusty sheaves; While through their cheerful band the rural talk. The rural scandal, and the rural jest, Fly harmless, to deceive the tedious time, And steal unfelt the sultry hours away. Behind the master walks, builds up the shocks; And, conscious, glancing oft on every side His sated eye, feels his heart heave with joy. The gleaners spread around, and here and there. Spike after spike, their scanty harvest pick.
Be not too narrow, husbandmen! but fling
From the full sheaf, with charitable stealth,
The liberal handful. Think, oh grateful think I
How good the God of harvest is to you:
Who pours abundance o'er your flowing fields:
While these unhappy partners of your kind
Wide hover round you, like the fowls of heaven,
And ask their humble dole. The various turns
Of fortune ponder; that your sons may want
What now, with hard reluctance, faint, ye give.
The lovely young Lavinia once bad friends;
And fortune smil'd, deceitful, on her birth,
For, in her helpless years depriv'd of all,
Of every stay, save innocence and Heaven,
She, with her widow' d mother, feeble, old.
And poor, liv'd in a cottage, far retir'd
Among the windings of a woody vale;
By solitude and deep surrounding shades,
But more by bashful modesty, conceald.
Together thus they sbunn'd the cruel scorn
Which virtue, sunk to poverty, would meet
From giddy passion and low-minded pride:
Almost on Nature's common bounty fed;
Like the gay birds that sung them to repose,
Content, and careless of to-morrow's fare.
Her form was fresher than the morning-rose.
Should his heart own a gleaner in the 6eld:
And thus in secret to his soul he sigh'd:
'What pity! that so delicate a form,
By beauty kindled, where enlivening sense
And more than vulgar goodness seem to dwell,
Should be devoted to the rude embrace
Of some indecent clown I She looks, methinks,
Of old Acasto's line; and to my mind
Recals that patron of my happy life.
From whom my liberal fortune took its rise;
Now to the dust gone down ; his bouses, lands,
And once fair-spreading family, dissolv'd.
'Tis said that in some lone, obscure retreat,
Urg'd by remembraoce sad, and decent pride,
Far from those scenes which knew their better days,
His aged widow and his daughter live,
Whom yet my fruitless search could never find.
Romantic wish! would this the daughter were!'
When, strict inquiring, from herself he found
She was the same, the daughter of his friend,
Of bountiful Acasto; who can speak
The mingled passions that surpris'd bis heart,
And through his nerves in shivering transport ran I
Then blaz'd his smother'd flame, avow'd, and bold;
And as he view'd her, ardent, o'er and o'er,
Love, gratitude,and pity, wept at once.
Confus'd.and frighten'd, at his sudden tears,
Her rising beauties flush'd a higher bloom,
As thus Palemon, passionate and just,
Pour'd out the pious rapture of his soul:
* And art thou then Acasto's dear remains?
She whom my restless gratitude has sought
So long in vain T O heavens! the very same,
The soften'd image of my noble friend;
Alive is every look, his every feature,
More elegantly touch'd. Sweeter than Spring!
Thou sole surviving blossom from the root
That nourish'd up my fortune I say, ah where,
In what sequester'd desert, hast thou drawn
The kindest aspect of delighted Heaven 1
Into such beauty spread, and blown so fair;
Though Poverty's cold wind, and crushing ruin,
Beat keen and heavy on thy tender years %
O let me now, into a richer soil,
Transplant thee safe! where vernal sun and showers
Diffuse their warmest, largest influence;
And of my garden be the pride and joy!
Ill it befits thee, oh it ill befits
Acasto's daughter, his, whose open stores,
Though vast, where little to his ampler heart,
The father of a country, thus to pick
The very refuse of those harvest fields
Which from his bounteous friendship I enjoy.
Then throw that shameful pittance from thy hand,
But ill applied to such a rugged task!
The fields, the master, all, my fair, are thine;
If, to the various blessings which thy house
Has on me lavish'd, thou wilt add that bliss,
That dearest bliss, the power of blessingthee!'
Here ceas'd the youth; yet still his speaking eye
Express'*! the sacred trinmph of his soul,
With conscious virtue, gratitude, and love,
Above the vulgar joy divinely rais'd.
Nor waited he reply. Won by the charm
Of goodness irresistible, and all
In sweet disorder lost, she blush'd consent.
The news immediate to her mother brought,
While, pierc'd with anxious thought, she pin' d away
The lonely moments for Lavinia's fate;
Amaz'd, and scarce believing what she heard,
Joy seiz'd her wither'd veins, and one bright gleam
Of setting life shone on her evening hours:
Not less enraptur'd than the happy pair:
Who flourished long in tender bliss, and rear'd
A numerous offspring, lovely like themselves,
And good, the grace of all the country round.
Defeating oft the labours of the year,
The sultry south collects a potent blast.
At first the groves are scarcely seen to stir
Their trembling tops, and a still murmur runs
Along the soft inclining fields of corn.
But as the aerial tempest fuller swells,
And in one mighty stream, invisible,
Immense, the whole excited atmosphere.
Impetuous rushes o'er the sounding world:
S train'd to the root, the stooping forest pours
A rustling shower of yet untimely leaves.
High beat, the circling mountains eddy in,
From the bare wild, the dissipated storm,
And send it in a torrent down the vale.
Expos'd, and naked, to itH utmost rage,
Through all the sea of harvest rolling round.
The billowy plain floats wide; nor can evade,
Though pliant to the blast, its seizing force;
Or whirl'd in air, or into vacant chaff
Shook waste. And sometimes too a burst of rain
Swept from the black horizon, broad, descends
In one continuous flood. Still over head
The mingling tempest weaves its gloom, and still
The deluge deepens; till the fields around
Lie sunk, and flatted, in the sordid wave.
Sudden, the ditches swell, the meadows swim,
Red, from the hills, innumerable streams
Tumultuous roar, and high above its banks
The river lift; before whose rushing tide,
Herds, Bocks, and harvests, cottages, and swains,
Roll mingled down; all that the winds had spar'd
In one wild moment ruin'd; the big hopes,
And well-earn'd treasures of the painful year.
Fled to some eminence, the husbandman
Helpless beholds the miserable wreck
Driving along; his drowning ox at once
Descending, with his labours scatter'd round,
He sees; and instant o'er his shivering thought
Gomes Winter unprovided, and a train
Of claimant children dear. Ye masters, then,
Be mindful of the rough laborious hand,
That sinks you soft in elegance and ease;
Be mindful of those limbs in russet clad,
Whose toil to yours is warmth, and graceful pride;
And, oh! be mindful of that sparing board,
Which covers yours with luxury profuse,
Makes your glass sparkle, and your sense rejoice!
Nor cruelly demand what the deep rains
And all-involving winds have swept away.
Here the rude clamour of the sportmau's joy,