« PreviousContinue »
Who reckon ev'ry touch a blemish,
If all the plants that can be found
Embellishing the scene around,
Should droop and wither where they grow,
You would not feel at all, not you.
The noblest minds their virtue prove
By pity, sympathy, and love ;
These—these are feelings truly fine,
And prove their owner half divine.
His censure reach'd them as he dealt it,
And each by shrinking show'd he felt it.
TO THE REV. WILLIAM CAWTHORNE UNWIN.
NWIN, I should but ill repay
Whose worth deserves as warm a lay
As ever friendship penn'd,
Thy name omitted in a page
That would reclaim a vicious age.
An union form'd, as mine with thee,
Not rashly or in sport,
May be as fervent in degree,
And faithful in its sort,
And may as rich in comfort prove,
As that of true fraternal love.
The bud, inserted in the rind,
The bud of peach or rose,
Adorns, though difføring in its kind,
The stock whereon it grows,
With flow'r as sweet, or fruit as fair,
As if produced by nature there.
Not rich, I render what I may
I seize thy name in haste,
And place it in this first essay,
Lest this should prove the last.
'Tis where it should be, in a plan
That holds in view the good of man.
The poet's lyre, to fix his fame,
Should be the poet's heart,
Affection lights a brighter flame
Than ever blazed by art.
No muses on these lines attend,
I sink the poet in the friend.
["The history of the following production is briefly this: A lady, fond of blank verse, demanded a poem of that kind from the author, and gave him the SOFA for a subject. He obeyed, and having much leisure, connected another subject with it; and, pursuing the train of thought to which his situation and turn of mind led him, brought forth, at length, instead of the trifle which he at first intended, a serious affair-a Volume,” Such was the short and graceful introduction to The Task.]
SING the Sofa. I, who lately sang
Truth, Hope, and Charity, and touch'd with awe The solemn chords, and with a trembling hand, Escaped with pain from that advent'rous flight, Now seek repose upon a humbler theme; The theme though humble, yet august and proud Th' occasion for the Fair commands the song.
Long time elapsed or e'er our rugged sires
Complain'd, though incommodiously pent in,
And ill at ease behind. The ladies first
'Gan murmur, as became the softer sex.
Ingenious fancy, never better pleased
Than when employ'd t' accommodate the fair,
Heard the sweet moan with pity, and devised
The soft settee ; one elbow at each end,
And in the midst an elbow it received,
United yet divided, twain at once.
So sit two Kings of Brentford on one throne ;
And so two citizens who take the air,
Close pack'd and smiling in a chaise and one.
But relaxation of the languid frame
By soft recumbency of outstretched limbs,
Was bliss reserved for happier days ; so slow
The growth of what is excellent, so hard
T attain perfection in this nether world.
Thus, first necessity invented stools,
Convenience next suggested elbow-chairs,
And luxury th' accomplished Sofa last.
The nurse sleeps sweetly, hired to watch the sick
Whom snoring she disturbs. As sweetly he
Who quits the coach-box at the midnight hour
To sleep within the carriage more secure,
His legs depending at the open door.
Sweet sleep enjoys the Curate in his desk,
The tedious Rector drawling o'er his head,
And sweet the Clerk below: but neither sleep
Of lazy Nurse, who snores the sick man dead,
Nor his who quits the box at midnight hour
To slumber in the carriage more secure,
Nor sleep enjoy'd by Curate in his desk,
Nor yet the dozings of the Clerk, are sweet,
Compared with the repose the Sora yields.
Oh, may I live exempted (while I live Guiltless of pamper'd appetite obscene), From pangs arthritic that infest the toe Of libertine excess.
The SOFA suits The gouty limb, 'tis true ; but gouty limb, Though on a Sora, may I never feel : For I have loved the rural walk through lanes, Of grassy swarth, close cropp'd by nibbling sheep, And skirted thick with intertexture firm Of thorny boughs : have loved the rural walk O'er hills, through valleys, and by river's brink, E’er since a truant boy I pass’d my bounds Tenjoy a ramble on the banks of Thames. And still remember, nor without regret, Of hours that sorrow since has much endear'd, How oft, my slice of pocket store consumed, Still hung'ring, pennyless, and far from home, I feed on scarlet hips and stony haws, Or blushing crabs, or berries that imboss The bramble, black as jet, or sloes austere. Hard fare ! but such a boyish appetite Disdains not, nor the palate undepraved By culinary arts unsav'ry deems. No Sofa then awaited my return, No Sofa then I needed. Youth repairs His wasted spirits quickly, by long toil Incurring short fatigue; and though our years, As life declines, speed rapidly away, And not a year but pilfers as he goes Some youthful grace that age would gladly keep, A tooth or auburn lock, and by degrees Their length and colour from the locks they spare ; Th' elastic spring of an unwearied foot That mounts the stile with ease, or leaps the fence, That play of lungs inhaling and again
Respiring freely the fresh air, that makes
Swift pace or steep ascent no toil to me,
Mine have not pilfer'd yet; nor yet impair'd
My relish of fair prospect; scenes that sooth'd
Or charm'd me young, no longer young, I find
Still soothing and of power to charın me still.
Nor rural sights alone, but rural sounds
Exhilarate the spirit, and restore
The tone of languid Nature. Mighty winds
That sweep the skirt of some far-spreading wood
Of ancient growth, inake music not unlike
The dash of ocean on his winding shore,
And lull the spirit while they fill the mind,
Unnumber'd branches waving in the blast,
And all their leaves fast flutt'ring, all at once.
Nor less composure waits upon the roar
Of distant floods, or on the softer voice
Of neighb'ring fountain, or of rills that slip
Through the cleft rock, and, chiming as they fall
Upon loose pebbles, lose themselves at length
In matted grass, that with a livelier green
Betrays the secret of their silent course.
Nature inanimate employs sweet sounds,
But animated Nature sweeter still
To soothe and satisfy the human ear.
Ten thousand warblers cheer the day, and one
The livelong night: nor these alone whose notes
Nice-finger'd art must emulate in vain,
But cawing rooks, and kites that swim sublime
In still repeated circles, screaming loud,
The jay, the pie, and ev'n the boding owl
That hails the rising moon, have charms for me.
Sounds in harmonious in themselves and harsh,
Yet heard in scenes where peace for ever reigns,
And only there, please highly for their sake.