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Dissolving snows in livid torrents lost,
The mountains lift their green heads to the sky.
As yet the trembling year is unconfirm d,
And Winter oft at eve resumes the breeze,
Chills the pale morn, and bids his driving sleets
Deform the day delightless : so that scarce
The bittern knows his time, with bill ingulpht
To shake the sounding marsh ; or from the shore
The plovers when to scatter o'er the heath,
And sing their wild notes to the listening waste.
At last from Aries rolls the bounteous sun,
And the bright bull receives him. Then no more
Th' expansive atmosphere is cramp'd with cold;
But full of life and vivifying soul,
Lifts the light clouds sublime, and spreads them thin,
Fleecy and white, o'er all-surrounding heaven.
Forth fly the tepid airs; and unconfin'd
Unbinding earth, the moving softness strays.
Joyous, th' impatient husbandman perceives
Relenting nature, and his lusty steers
Drives from their stalls, to where the well-us'd plough
Lies in the furrow, loosen'd from the frost.
There, unrefusing, to the harness'd yoke
They lend their shoulder, and begin their toil,
Cheer'd by the simple song and soaring lark.
Meanwhile, incumbent o'er the shining share
The master leans, removes the obstructing clay,
Winds the whole work, and sidelong lays the glebe.
White through the neighbouring field the sower
With measur'd step, and liberal throws the grain
Into the faithful bosom of the ground :
The harrow follows harsh, and shuts the scene,
Be gracious, Heaven! for now laborious nian
Has done his part. Ye fostering breezes, blow!
Ye softening dews, ye tender showers, descend !
And temper all, thou world-reviving sun,
Into the perfect year! Nor ye who live
In luxury and ease, in pomp and pride,
Think these lost themes unworthy of your ear:
Such themes as these the rural Maro sung
To wide imperial Rome, in the full height
Of elegance and taste, by Greece refin'd.
In ancient times, the sacred plough employ'd
The kings and awful fathers of mankind :
And some, with whom compar'd your insect tribes
Are but the beings of a summer's day,
Have held the scale of empire, rul'd the storm
Of mighty war, then, with unwearied hand,
Disdaining little delicacies, seiz'd
The plough, and greatly independent liv'd.
Ye generous Britons, venerate the plough;
And o'er your hills, and long withdrawing vales,
Let Autumn spread his treasures to the sun,
Luxuriant and unbounded : as the sea,
Far through his azure turbulent domain,
Your empire owns, and from a thousand shores
Wafts all the pomp of life into your ports ;
So with superior boon may your rich soil,
Exuberant, Nature's better blessings pour
O'er every land, the naked nations clothe,
And be th' exhaustless granary of a world!
Nor only through the lenient air, this change, Delicious, breathes; the penetrative sun His force deep-darting to the dark retreat Of vegetation, sets the steaming power At large, to wander o'er the verdant earth, In various hues; but chiefly thee, gay green! Thou smiling nature's universal robe! United light and shade! where the sight dwells With growing strength, and ever-new delight.
From the moist meadow to the wither'd hill,
Led by the breeze, the vivid verdure runs,
And swells, and deepens, to the cherish'd eye.
The hawthorn whitens; and the juicy groves
Put forth their buds, unfolding by degrees,
Till the whole leafy forest stands display'd
In full luxuriance to the sighing gales ;
Where the deer rustle through the twining brake,
And the birds sing conceal’d. At once array'd
In all the colours of the flushing year,
By nature's swift and secret-working hand,
The garden glows, and fills the liberal air
With lavish fragrance; while the promis'd fruit
Lies yet a little embryo, unperceiv'd,
Within its crimson folds. Now from the town
Buried in smoke, and sleep, and noisome damps,
Oft let me wander o'er the dewy fields,
Where freshness breathes, and dash the trembling
From the bent bush, as through the verdant maze
Of sweet-brier hedges I pursue my walk;
Or taste the smell of dairy ; or ascend
Some eminence, Augusta, in thy plains,
And see the country, far diffus'd around,
One boundless blush, one white empurpled shower
Of mingled blossoms; where the raptur'd eye
Hurries from joy to joy, and, hid beneath
The fair profusion, yellow Autumn spies.
If, brusb'd from Russian wilds, a cutting gale
Rise not, and scatter from his humid wings
The clammy mildew; or, dry-blowing, breathe
Untimely frost; before whose baleful blast
The full-blown Spring through all her foliage shrinks,
Joyless and dead, a wide-dejected waste.
For, oft engender'd by the hazy north,
Myriads on myriads, insect armies warp
Keen in the poison'd breeze; and wasteful eat,
Through buds and bark, into the blacken'd core,
Their eager way. A feeble race! yet oft
The sacred sons of vengeance; on whose course
Corrosive famine waits, and kills the year.
To check this plague, the skilful farmer chaff
And blazing straw before his orchard burns ;
Till, all involv'd in smoke, the latent foe
From every cranny suffocated falls :
Or scatters o'er the blooms the pungent dust
pepper, fatal to the frosty tribe :
Or, when th' envenom'd leaf begins to curl,
With sprinkled water drowns them in their nest;
Nor, while they pick them up with busy bill,
The little trooping birds unwisely scares.
Be patient, swains, these cruel seeming winds
Blow not in vain. For hence they keep repress'd
Those deepening clouds on clouds, surcharg'd with rain,
That, o'er the vast Atlantic hither borne,
In endless train, would quench the summer-blaze, And, cheerless, drown the crude unripen'd year.
The north-east spends his rage; he now shut up Within his iron cave, th' effusive south Warms the wide air, and o'er the void of heaven Breathes the big clouds with vernal showers distent. At first a dusky wreath they seem to rise, Scarce staining ether ; but by swift degrees, In heaps on heaps, the doubling vapour sails Along the loaded sky, and mingled deep Sits on th' horizon round a settled gloom : Not such as wintry storms, on mortals shed, Oppressing life: but lovely, gentle, kind, And full of every hope and every joy, The wish of nature. Gradual sinks the breeze Into a perfect calm, that not a breath Is heard to quiver through the closing woods, Or rustling turn the many twinkling leaves Of aspin tall. Th' uncurling floods, diffus'd In glassy breadth, seen through delusive lapse Forgetful of their course. 'Tis silence all, And pleasing expectation. Herds and flocks Drop the dry sprig, and mute-imploring eye The falling verdure. Hush'd in short suspense, The plumy people streak their wings with oil, To throw the lucid moisture trickling off; And wait th' approaching sign to strike, at once, Into the general choir. Ev'n mountains, vales, And forests seem, impatient, to demand The promis'd sweetness. Man superior walks Amid the glad creation, musing praise, And looking lively gratitude. 'At last, The clouds consign their treasures to the fields ; And, softly shaking on the dimpled pool Prelusive drops, let all their moisture flow, In large effusion, o'er the freshen'd world. The stealing shower is scarce to patter heard, By such as wander through the forest walks, Beneath th' umbrageous multitude of leaves. But who can hold the shade, while Heaven descends In universal bounty shedding herbs, And fruits, and flowers, on nature's ample lap?
Swift fancy fir'd anticipates their growth;
And, while the milky nutriment distils,
Beholds the kindling country colour round.
Thus all day long the full-distended clouds
Indulge their genial stores, and well-shower'd earth
Is deep-enrich'd with vegetable life;
Till, in the western sky, the downward sun
Looks out, effulgent, from amid the flush
Of broken clouds, gay-shifting to his bean.
The rapid radiance instantaneous strikes
Th’ illumin’d mountain, through the forest streams,
Shakes on the floods, and in a yellow mist,
Far smoking o'er the interminable plain,
In twinkling myriads lights the dewy gems.
Moist, bright, and green, the landscape laughs around.
Full swell the woods; their every music wakes,
Mixt in wild concert with the warbling brook
Increas'd, the distant bleatings of the hills,
And hollow lows responsive from the vales,
Whence, blending all, the sweeten'd zephyr springs.
Meantime, refracted from yon eastern cloud,
Bestriding earth, the grand ethereal bow
Shoots up immense, and every hue unfolds,
In fair proportion running from the red,
To where the violet fades into the sky.
Here, awful Newton, the dissolving clouds
Form, fronting on the sun, thy showery prism;
And to the sage
The various twine of light, by that disclos'd
From the white mingling maze. Not so the boy;
He wondering views the bright enchantment bend,
Delightful, o'er the radiant fields, and runs
To catch the falling glory; but amaz'd
Beholds th' amusive arch before him fly,
Then vanish quite away. Still night succeeds,
And soften'd shade, and saturated earth
Awaits the morning-beam, to give to light,
Rais'd through ten thousand different plastic tubes,
The balmy treasures of the former day.
Then spring the living herbs, profusely wild,
O'er all the deep-green earth, beyond the power
Of botanists to number up their tribes :