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The swain mistrustless of his smutted face,
Sweet smiling village, loveliest of the lawn, Thy sports are fled, and all thy charms withdrawn; Amidst thy bowers the tyrant's hand is seen, And desolation saddens all thy green: One only master grasps the whole domain, And half a tillage stints thy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 their echoes with unvary'd 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, Par, far away thy children leave the land.
Ill fares the land, to hast’ning ills a prey,
A time there was, ere England's griefs began, When every rood of ground maintain'd its man;
For him light labor spread her wholesome store,
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 cumb’rous 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, Liv'd 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 power. 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, 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,
Around my fire an evening group to draw,
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 labor 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 dang'rous deep ; Nor 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 brightning to the last, His heaven commences ere the world be past.
Sweet was the sound, when oft at ev'ning's close, Up yonder hill the village murmur rose ; There, as I past, 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 whisp'ring wind, And the loud laugh that spoke the vacant mind; These all in sweet confusion sought the shade, And fill'd each pause the nightingale had made.
But now the sounds of population fail,
till morn ;
Near yonder copse, where once the garden smild, And still where many a garden flower grows wild; 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, Sate by his fire, and talk'd the night away ; Wept o'er his wounds, or tales of sorrow done, Shoulder'd his crutch, and shew'd how fields were won.
Pleas'd with his guests, the good man learn’d to glow,
Thus to relieve the wretched was his pride,
Beside the bed where parting life was laid, And sorrow, guilt, and pain, by turns dismay’d, The rev’rend champion stood. At his control, Despair and anguish fled the struggling soul; Comfort came down the trembling wretch to raise, And his last fault'ring accents whisper'd praise.
At church, with meek and unaffected grace, His looks adorn'd the venerable place; Truth from his lips prevail’d with double sway, And fools, who came to scoff, remain’d to pray. The service past, around the pious man, With steady zeal, each honest rustic ran; Ev'n children follow'd, with endearing wile, And pluck'd his gown, to share the good man's smile. His ready smile a parent's warmth exprest, Their welfare pleas’d him, and their care distrest; To them his heart, his love, his griefs were given, But all his serious thoughts had rest in heaven. As some tall cliff that lifts its awful form, Swells from the vale, and midway leaves the storm,