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My father left a park to me,
But it is wild and barren,
And waster than a warren :
It is not bad but good land, And in it is the germ of all
That grows within the woodland.
O had I lived when song was great
In days of old Amphion,
Nor cared for seed or scion !
And had I lived when song was great,
And legs of trees were limber, And ta’en my fiddle to the gate,
And fiddled in the timber!
'Tis said he had a tuneful tongue,
Such happy intonation, Wherever he sat down and sung
He left a small plantation ; Wherever in a lonely grove
He set up his forlorn pipes, The gouty oak began to move,
And flounder into hornpipes.
The mountain stirr'd its bushy crown,
And, as tradition teaches,
Young ashés pirouetted down
Coquetting with young beeches; And briony-vine and ivy-wreath
Ran forward to his rhyming, And from the valleys underneath
Came little copses climbing.
The birch-tree swang her fragrant hair,
The bramble cast her berry, The gin within the juniper
Began to make him merry,
With cypress promenaded,
By rivers gallopaded.
Came wet-shod alder from the wave,
Came yews, a dismal coterie;
Poussetting with a sloe-tree:
The vine stream'd out to follow,
From many a cloudy hollow.
And wasn't it a sight to see,
When, ere his song was ended,
The country-side descended;
And shepherds from the mountain-eaves
Look'd down, half-pleased, half-frighten'd, As dash'd about the drunken leaves
The random sunshine lighten'd!
Oh, nature first was fresh to men,
And wanton without measure;
So youthful and so flexile then,
You moved her at your pleasure. Twang out, my fiddle! shake the twigs !
And make her dance attendance; Blow, flute, and stir the stiff-set sprigs,
And scirrhous roots and tendons.
'Tis vain! in such a brassy age
I could not move a thistle;
Scarce answer to my whistle;
With strumming and with scraping,
The passive oxen gaping.
But what is that I hear? a sound
Like sleepy counsel pleading : O Lord !—’tis in my neighbour's ground,
The modern Muses reading. They read Botanic Treatises,
And Works on Gardening thro' there, And Methods of transplanting trees,
To look as if they grew there.
The wither'd Misses ! how they prose
O'er books of travell’d seamen, And show you slips of all that grows
From England to Van Diemen.
And alleys, faded places,
And warm'd in crystal cases.
But these, though fed with careful dirt,
Are neither green nor sappy ; Half-conscious of the garden-squirt,
The poor things look unhappy.