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His harden'd fingers deck the gaudy Spring;
Without him Summer were an arid waste;
Nor to th' autumnal months could thus transmit
Those full, mature, immeasurable stores,
That, waving round, recal my wandering song.
Soon as the morning trembles o'er the sky,
And, unperceiv’d, unfolds the spreading day;
Before the ripen'd field the
In fair array; each by the lass he loves,,
To bear the rougher part, and mitigate
By nameless gentle offices her toil.
At once they stoop and swell the lusty sheaves ;
While through their cheerful band the rural talk,
The rural scandal, and the rural jest,
Fly harmless to deceive the tedious time,
And steal unfelt the sultry hours away.
Behind the master walks, builds up the shocks;
And, conscious, glancing oft on every side
His sated eye, feels his heart heave with joy.
The gleaners spread arouud, and here and there,
Spike after spike, their scanty harvest pick.
Be not too narrow, husbandmen! but Aing
From the full sheaf, with charitable stealth,
The liberal handful. Think, oh, grateful think!
How good the God of harvest is to you;
Who pours abundance o'er your flowing fields;
While these unhappy partners of your kind
Wide-hover round you like the fowls of heaven,
And ask their humble dole. The various turns
Of fortune ponder ; that your sons may want
What now, with hard reluctance, faint, ye give.
The lovely young Lavinia once had friends;
And fortune smild, deceitful, on her birth:
For, in her helpless years depriv'd of all,
every stay, save innocence and heaven,
She, with her widow'd mother, feebie, old,
And poor, liv'd in a cottage, far retir'd
Among the windings of a woody vale;
By solitude and deep surrounding shades,
But more by bashful modesty, conceald.
Together thus they shunn'd the cruel scorn
Which virtue, sunk to poverty, would meet
From giddy passion and low-minded pride:
Almost on Nature's common bounty fed ;
Like the gay birds that sung them to repose,
Content, and careless of to-morrow's fare.
Her form was fresher than the morning rose,
When the dew wets its leaves ; unstain'd and pure,
As is the lily, or the mountain snow.
The modest virtues mingled in her eyes,
Still on the ground dejected, darting all
Their humid beams into the blooming flowers :
Or when the mournfùl tale her mother told,
Of what her faithless fortune promis'd once,
Thrill'd in her thought, they, like the dewy star
Of evening, shone in tears. A native grace
Sat fair-proportion'd on her polish'd limbs,
Veild in a simple robe, their best attire,
Beyond the pomp of dress; for loveliness
Needs not the foreign aid of ornament,
But is, when unadorn'd, adorn’d the most.
Thoughtless of beauty, she was beauty's self,
Recluse amid the close-embowering woods.
As in the hollow breast of Appenine,
Beneath the shelter of encircling hills
A myrtle rises, far from human eye,
And breathes its balmy fragrance o'er the wild;
So flourish'd blooming, and unseen by all,
The sweet Lavinia ; till at length, compellid
By strong necessity's supreme command,
With smiling patience in her looks, she went
To glean Palemon's fields. The pride of swains
Palemon was, the generous, and the rich;
Who led the rural life in all its joy
And elegance, such as Arcadain song
Transmits froin ancient uncorrupted times;
When tyrant custom had not shackled man,
Bụt free to follow nature was the mode.
He then, his fancy with autumnal scenes
Amusing, chanc'd beside his reaper-train
To walk, when poor Lavinia drew his eye;
Unconscious of her power, and turning quick
With unaffected blushes from his gaze :
He saw her charming, but he saw not half
The charms her downcast modesty conceald.
That very moment love and chaste desire
Sprung in his bosom, to himself unknown ;
For still the world prevail'd, and its dread laugh,
Which scarce the firm philosopher can scorn,
Should his heart own a gleaner in the field:
And thus in secret to his soul he sigh’d.
“ What pity! that so delicate a form, “ By beauty kindled, where enlivening sense “ And more than vulgar goodness seem to dwell, “ Should be devoted to the rude embrace “ Of some indecent clown! She looks, methinks, « Of old Acasto's line; and to my mind “ Recals that patron of my happy life, “ From whom my liberal fortune took its rise ; “Now to the dust gone down: his houses, lands, “ And once fair-spreading family, dissolvd. « 'Tis said that in some lone obscure retreat, “ Urg'd by remembrance sad, and decent pride, “ Far from those scenes which knew their better days, “ His aged widow and his daughter live, “ Whom yet my fruitless search could never find. “ Romantic wish! would this the daughter were !"
When, strict inquiring, from herself he found She was the same, the daughter of his friend, Of bountiful Acasto; who can speak The mingled passions that surpris'd his heart, And through his nerves in shivering transport ran? Then blaz'd his smother'd flame, avow'd, and bold; And as he view'd her, ardent, o'er and o'er, Love, gratitude, and pity, wept at once. Confus'd, and frightend at his sudden tears, Her rising beauties flush'd a higher bloom, As thus Palemon, passionate and just, Pour'd out the pious rapture of his soul.
“ And art thou then Acasto's dear remains ? “She, whom my restless gratitude has sought “ So long in vain? O, heavens, the very same, “ The soften'd image of my noble friend! " Alive his every look, his every feature, “ More elegantly touch'd. Sweeter than Spring! “ Thou sole surviving blossom from the root
“That nourish'd up my fortune! Say, ah where,
“ In what sequester'd desert, hast thou drawn
“ The kindest aspect of delighted heaven?
“ Into such beauty spread, and blown so fair;
Though poverty's cold wind, and crushing rain, “ Beat keen, and heavy, on thy tender years ? “ O let me now, into a richer soil, “ Transplant thee safe! where vernal suns, and showers, “ Diffuse their warmest, largest influence ; “And of my garden be the pride, and joy! “ Ill it befits thee, oh, it ill befits “ Acasto's daughter, his whose open stores, “ Though vast, were little to his ampler heart, “ The father of a country, thus to pick The
very refuse of those harvest-fields,
r. Whic! om his bounteous friendship I enjoy.
“ Then throw that shameful pittance from thy hand,
“ But ill apply'd to such a rugged task ;
“ The fields, the master, all, my fair, are thine;
“ If to the various blessings which thy house
“ Has on me lavish’d, thou wilt add that bliss,
“ That dearest bliss, the power of blessing thee!"
Here ceas'd the youth, yet still his speaking eye
Express'd the sacred triumph of his soul,
With conscious virtue, gratitude, and love,
Above the vulgar joy divinely rais d.
Nor waited he reply. Won by the charm
Of goodness irresistible, and all
In sweet disorder lost, she blush'd consent.
The news immediate to her mother brought,
While pierc'd with anxious thought, she pin'd away
The lonely moments for Lavinia's fate;
Amaz'd and scarce believing what she heard,
Joy seiz'd her wither’d veins, and one bright gleam
Of setting life shone on her evening hours:
Not less enraptur'd than the happy pair,
Who flourish'd long in tender bliss, and rear'd
A numerous offspring, lovely like themselves,
And good, the grace of all the country round.
Defeating of the labours of the year,
The sultry south collects a potent blast.
At first, the groves are scarcely seen to stir
Their trembling tops, and a still murmur runs
Along the soft-inclining fields of corn.
But as th' aërial tempest fuller swells,
And in one mighty stream, invisible,
Immense, the whole excited atmosphere,
Impetuous rushes o'er the sounding world :
Strain'd to the root, the stooping forest pours
A rustling shower of yet untimely leaves;
High-beat, the circling mountains eddy in,
From the bare wild, the dissipated storm,
And send it in a torrent down the vale.
Expos'd, and naked, to its utmost rage,
Through all the sea of harvest rolling round,
The billowy plain floats wide; nor can evade,
Though pliant to the blast, its seizing force;
Or whirl'd in air, or into vacant chaff
Shook waste. And sometimes too a burst of rain,
Swept from the black horizon, broad, descends
In one continuous flood. Still over-head
The mingling tempest waves its gloom, and still
The deluge deepens; till the fields around
Lie sunk, and flatted, in the sordid wave.
Sudden, the ditches swell; the meadows swim..
Red, from the hills, innumerable streams
Tumultuous roar; and hight above its banks
The river lift; before whose rushing tide,
Herds, flocks, and harvests, cottages, and swains,
Roll mingled down; all that the winds had spar'd
In one wild moment ruin'd; the big hopes,
And well-earn'd treasures of the painful year.
Fled to some eminence, the husbandman
Helpless beholds the miserable wreck
Driving along; his drowning ox at once
Descending, with his labours scatter'd round
He sees; and instant o'er his shivering thought
Comes Winter unprovided, and a train
Of claimant children dear. Ye masters, then,
Be mindful of the rough laborious hand,
That sinks you soft in elegance and ease;
Be mindful of those limbs in russet clad,
Whose toil to yours is warmth, and graceful pride;
And, oh! be niindful of that sparing board,