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So have I seen (who has not, may conceive)
A lifeless phantom near a garden placed;
So doth it wanton birds of peace bereave,
Of sport, of song, of pleasure, of repast ;
They start, they stare, they wheel, they look aghast;
Sad servitude ! such comfortless annoy
May no bold Briton's riper age e'er taste!
Ne superstition clog his dance of joy,
Ne vision empty, vain, his native bliss destroy.
Near to this dome is found a patch so green,
On which the tribe their gambols do display ;
And at the door imprisoning board is seen,
Lest weakly wights of smaller size should stray,
Eager, perdie, to bask in sunny day!
The noises intermixed, which thence resound,
Do learning's little tenement betray;
Where sits the dame, disguised in look profound,
And eyes her fairy throng, and turns her wheel around.
Her cap, far whiter than the driven snow,
Emblem right meet, of decency does yield;
Her apron, dyed in grain, as blue, I trowe,
As is the hare-bell that adorns the field;
And in her hand, for scepter, she does wield
Tway birchen sprays, with anxious fears entwined,
With dark distrust, and sad repentance filled,
And steadfast hate, and sharp affliction joined,
And fury uncontrolled, and chastisement unkind.
Few but have kenned, in semblance meet portrayed,
The childish faces of old Eol's train;
Libs, Notus, Auster; these in frowns arrayed,
How then would fare on earth, or sky, or main,
Were the stern god to give his slaves the rein ?
And were not she rebellious breasts to quell,
And were not she her statutes to maintain,
The cot no more, I ween, were deemed the cell,
Where comely peace of mind, and decent order dwell.
A russet stole was o'er her shoulders thrown;
A russet kirtle fenced the nipping air;
'Twas simple russet, but it was her own;
'Twas her own country bred the flock so fair;
'Twas her own labor did the fleece prepare ;
And, sooth to say her pupils, ranged around,
Through pious awe, did term it passing rare;
For they in gaping wonderment abound,
And think, no doubt, she been the greatest wight on ground !
Albeit ne flattery did corrupt the truth,
Ne pompous title did debauch her ear;
Goody, good-woman, n'aunt, forsooth,
Or dame, the sole additions she did hear;
Yet these she challenged, these she held right dear;
Ne would esteem him act as mought behove,
Who should not honored eld with these revere ;
For never title yet so mean could prove,
But there was eke a mind that did that title love.
One ancient hen she took delight to feed,
The plodding pattern of the busy dame;
Which, ever and anon, impeled by need,
Into her school, begirt with chickens, came!
Such favor did her past deportment claim;
And if neglect had lavished on the ground
Fragment of bread, she would collect the same,
For well she knew, and quaintly could expound,
What sin it were to waste the smallest crumb she found.
Herbs, too, she knew, and well of each could speak,
That in frer garden sipped the silvery dew;
Where no vain flower disclos'd a gawdy streak;
But herbs for use and physic not a few,
Of grey renown, within those borders grew;
The tufted basil, pun-provoking thyme,
Fresh baum, and mary-gold of cheerful hue ;
The lowely gill, that never dares to climb;
And more I fain would sing, disdaining here to rhyme.
Yet euphrasy may not be left unsung,
That gives dim eyes to wander leagues around,
And pungent radish, biting infants tongue ;
And plantain ribbed, that heals the reaper's wound;
And marjoram sweet, in shepherd's posie found;
And lavender, whose spikes of azure bloom
Shall be ere-while in arid bundles bound,
To lurk amidst the labors of her loom,
And crown her kerchiefs clean, with mickle rare perfume.
And here trim rosemarine, that whilom crowned
The daintiest garden of the proudest peer,
Ere, driven from its envied site, it found
A sacred shelter for its branches here;
Where edged with gold its glittering skirts appear.
O, wassel days ! O, customs meet and well!
Ere this was banished from its losty sphere;
Simplicity then sought this humble cell,
Nor ever would she more with thane and lordling dwell.
Here oft the dame, on sabbath's decent eve,
Hymn'd such psalms as Sternhold forth did mete;
If winter 'twere, she to her hearth did cleave,
But in her garden found a summer-seat ;
Sweet melody! to hear her then repeat
How Israel's sons, beneath a foreign king,
While taunting foe-men did a song intreat,
All for the nonce, untuning every string,
Uphung their useless lyres-small heart had they to sing
For she was just, and friend to virtuous lore,
And passed much time in truly virtuous deed ;
And in those elfin cars would oft deplore
The times when truth by popish rage did bleed,
And torturous death was true devotion's meed;
And simple faith in iron chains did mourn,
That nould on wooden image place her creed ;
And lawny saints in smouldering flames did burn;
Ab, dearest lord, forefend, thilk days should e'er return!
In elbow-chair, like that of Scottish stem
By the sharp tooth of cankering eld defaced,
In which, wher: he receives his diadem,
Our sovereign prince and liesest liege is placed,
The matron sate, and some with rank she graced,
(The source of children's and of courtiers pride !)
Redressed affronts, for vile affronts there passed ;
And warned them not the fretful to deride,
But love each other dear, whatever them betide.
Right well she knew each temper to descry;
To thwart the proud, and the submiss to raise,
Some with vile copper-prize exalt on high,
And some entice with pittance small of praise ,
And other some with baleful sprig she frays;
Ee'n absent, she the reins of power doth hold,
While with quaint arts the giddy crowd she sways;
Forewarned if little bird their pranks behold,
Twill whisper in her ear, and all the scene unfold.
Lo! now with state she utiers the command;
Eftsoons the urchins to their tasks repair ;
Their books of stature small they take in hand,
Which with pellucid horn secured are, (3.)
To save from fingers wet the letters fair;
The work so gay, that on their back is seen,
St. George's high achievments does declare ;
On which thilk wight, that has y-gazing been
Kens the forth-coming rod-unpleasing sight, I ween!
No longer can she now her shrieks command,
And hardly she forbears, through awful fear,
To rushen forth, and, with presumptuous hand,
To stay harsh justice in bis mid career.
On thee she calls, on thee, her parent dear!
(Ah! too remote to ward the shameful blow!)
She sees no kind domestic visage near,
And soon a flood of tears begins to flow,
And gives a loose at last to unavailing woe.
But, ah! what pen his piteous plight may trace ?
Or what device his loud laments explain?
The form uncouth of his disguised face?
The pallid hue that dyes his looks amain?
The plenteous shower that does his cheek distain ?
When he, in aliject wise, implores the dame,
Ne hopeth aught of sweet reprieve to gain ;
Or when from high she levels well her aim,
And, through the thatch, his cries each falling stroke proclaim.
The other tribe, aghast, with sore dismay,
Attend, and conn their tasks with mickle care;
By turns, astonied every twig survey,
And from their fellow's hateful wounds beware,
Knowing, I wist, how each the same may share ;
Till fear has taught them a performance meet,
And to the well-known chest the dame repair,
Whence oft with sugared cates she doth them greet,
And ginger-bread y-rare; now, certes, doubly sweet.
See to their seats they hie with merry glee,
And in beseemly order sitten there;
All but the wight of flesh y-galled; he,
Abhorreth bench, and stool, and form, and chair;
(This hand in mouth y-fixed, that rends his hair ;)
And eke with snubs profound, and heaving breast,
Convulsions intermitting, does declare
His grievous wrong, his dame's unjust behest ;
And scorns her offered love, and shuns to be caressed
His face besprent with liquid crystal shines,
His blooming face, that seems a purple flower,
Which low to earth its drooping head declines,
All smear'd and sullied by a vernal shower.
O, the hard bosoms of despotic power!
All, all but she, the author of his shame,
All, all but she, regret this mournful hour;
Yet hence the youth, and hence the flower, shall claim,
If so I deem aright, transcending worth and fame.
Behind some door, in melancholy thought,
Mindless of food, he, dreary caitiff! pines ;
Ne for his fellows' joyaunce careth aught,
But to the wind all merriment resigns ;
And deems it shame, if he to peace inclines ;
And many a sullen look ascance is sent,
Which for his dame's annoyance he designs ;
And still the more to pleasure him she's bent
The more doth he, perverse, her havior past resent.
Ah me! how much I fear lest pride it be!
But if that pride it be, which thus inspires,
Beware, ye dames, with nice discernment see,
Ye quench not too the sparks of nobler fires :
Ah! better far than all the muses' lyres,
All coward arts, its valor's generous heat ;
The firm fixt breast which fit and right requires,
Like Vernon's patriot soul! more juslly great
Than crast that pimps for ill, or flowery false deceit.
Yet, nursed with skill, what dazzling fruits appear
Ee'n now sagacious foresight points to show
A little bench of heedless bishops here,
And there a chancellor in embryo,
Or bard sublime, if bard may e'er be so,
As Milton, (5.) Shakspeare, names that ne'er shall die !
Though now he crawl along the ground so low,
Nor weeting how the muse should soar on high
Wisheth, poor starveling elf! his paper kite may fly.
And this perhaps, who, censuring the design,
Low lays the house which that of cards doth build,
Shall Dennis be! if rigid fate incline,
And many an epic to his rage shall yield;
And many a poet quit the Aonian field;
And, soured by age, profound he shall appear,
As he who now with disdainful fury thrillid
Surveys mine work; and levels many a sneer,
And furls his wrinkly front, and cries, “What stuff is here ?"
But now Dan Phæbus gains the middle sky,
And liberty unbars her prison-door ;
And like a rushing torrent out they fly;
And now the grassy cirque had covered o'er
With boisterous revel-rout and wild uproar;
A thousand ways in wanton rings they run.
Heaven shield their short-lived pastimes, I implore •
For well may freedom erst so dearly won,
Appear to British elf more gladsome than the sun.
Enjoy, poor imps! enjoy your sportive trade,
And chase gay flies, and cull the fairest flowers;
For when my bones in grass-green sods are laid,
O, never may ye taste more careless hours
In knightly castle or in ladies' bowers.
O, vain to seek delight in earthly thing !
But most in courts, where proud ambition towers ;
Deluded wight! who weens fair peace can spring
Beneath the pompous dome of kesar or of king.