The seasons. In imitation of Spenser
Annuus agricolis ordo breviorque laborumSumma mihi tradenda.Praedium Ruſticum.
YE baleful Follow'rs of the Blatant Beaſt,
Who cenſure Matters far beyond your Ken,
Behold, I now preſent you with a Feaſt;
Ruſh forth like Wolves from your ſequeſter'd Den,
And mangle all the Labours of my Pen.
Show, ye rude Louts your lewd unhallow'd Rage,
In this I ſhare the Fate of greater Men;
Pale Envy ever knaws the laurel'd Page,
And 'gainſt all worthy Wight doth War perpetual wage.
[Page 4] II.
If thee, ſweet Nymph, theſe ſimple Lines * aggrate,
If I may hope to merit thine Eſteem,
Not with the proudeſt would I change my State
Of thoſe who deeply drink Caſtalia's Stream,
And on Parnaſſus catch th' inſpiring Dream.
Say, thou dear Nourſling of the Paphian Queen,
Wilt thou, ah! wilt thou patronize my Theme,
So ſhall this Meaſure blunt the tooth of Spleen,
Nor Critic's Tongue ſhall blaſt ſuch favour'd Lines, I ween.
See! how the Tribe of Witlings ſhun the Place,
And deep in Shades conceal their Fronts of Braſs;
The Coxcomb talks of Feathers, Cloaths, and Lace,
Nay Codrus un-impeach'd doth let me paſs,
Codrus, of Pride and Spite a mighty Maſs.
Thus when a Set of Imps at Midnight play,
And tear the Coarſes from the hallow'd Graſs;
Soon as the Sun unbars the Gates of Day,
They fear his heav'nly Light, and melt in Air away.
ERE yet I ſing the round-revolving Year,
And ſhow the Toils and Paſtime of the Swain,
At * Alcon's Grave I drop a pious Tear;
Right well he knew to raiſe his learned Strain,
And, like his Milton, ſcorn'd the rhyming Chain.
Ah! cruel Fate, to tear him from our Eyes;
Receive this Wreath, albe the Tribute's vain,
From the green Sod may Flow'rs immortal riſe,
To mark the ſacred Spot where the ſweet Poet lies.
It is the Cuckoo that announceth SPRING,
And with his † wreakful Tale the Spouſe doth fray;
Mean while the Finches harmleſs Ditties ſing,
And hop, in buxom Youth, from Spray to Spray,
Proud as Sir Paridel, of rich Array.
The little Wantons that draw Venus' Team
Chirp am'rous thro' the Grove, in beavies gay;
And he, who erſt gain'd Leda's fond Eſteem,
Now ſails on Thamis Tide, the Glory of the Stream!
[Page 6] III.
Proud as the Turkiſh Soldan, Chaunticleer
Sees, with Delight, his num'rous Race around;
He grants freſh Favours to each Female near;
For Love as well as Cheviſaunce renown'd.
The waddling Dame that did the Gauls confound,
Her tawny Sons doth lead to Rivers cold;
While Juno's * Dearling, with majeſtic Bound,
To charm his † Leman, doth his Train unfold,
That glows with vivid Green, that flames with burning Gold.
The balmy Cowſlip gilds the ſmiling Plain,
The virgin Snow-drop boaſts her Silver Hue,
An hundred Tints the gaudy Daiſy ſtain,
And the meek Violet, in amis Blue,
Creeps low to Earth, and hides from public View:
But the rank Nettle rears her Creſt on high;
So Ribaulds looſe their Fronts unbluſhing ſhew,
While modeſt Merit doth neglected lie,
And pines in lonely Shade, unſeen of vulgar Eye.
[Page 7] V.
See! all around the gall-leſs * Culvers bill,
Mean while the Nightingale's becalming Lays
Mix with the plaintive Muſic of the Rill
The which in various † Gyres the Meadow [Note: Bathes.] bays,
Behold! the Welkin burſts into a Blaze!
Faſt by the Car of Light the nimble Hours,
In Songs of Triumph, hail his genial Rays,
And, as they ‖ wend to Thetis cooling Bow'rs,
They bound along the Sky, and ſtrew the Heav'ns with Flow'rs.
VI.[Page 6] [...] [Page 7] [...]
And now the human Boſom melts to Love;
The raptur'd Bard awakes his ſkilful Lyre,
By running Streams, or in the Laurel Grove,
He tunes to am'rous Notes his ſounding Wire,
All, all is Harmony, and all Deſire.
The happy Numbers charm the blooming Maid,
Her bluſhing Cheeks pronounce her Heart on Fire,
She now conſents, then ſhuns th' embow'ring Shade,
With faint Reluctance yields; deſirous, yet afraid.
[Page 8] VII.
Now ruſtic Cuddy, with untutor'd Throat,
(Tho' much admir'd, I ween, of Nymph and Swain)
By various Songs would various Ends promote.
Seeks he to prove that Woman's Vows are vain?
He Bateman's Fortune tells, a baleful Strain!
And if, to honour Britain he be led,
He ſings a 'Prentice bold, in Londs profane,
Who, all unarm'd, did ſtrike two Lyons dead,
Tore forth their ſavage Hearts, and did a Princeſs wed.
But hark! the Bag-pipe ſummons to the Green,
The jocund Bag-pipe, that awaketh Sport;
The blytheſome Laſſes, as the Morning ſheen,
Around the flow'r-crown'd May-pole quick reſort;
The Gods of Pleaſure, here, have fix'd their Court.
Quick on the Wing the flying Moment ſeize,
Nor build up ample Schemes, for Life is ſhort,
Short as the Whiſper of the paſſing Breeze.
Yet, ah! in vain I preach—mine Heart is ill at Eaſe.
BEneath yon * ſnubby Oak's extended Shade
Safe let me hide me from the Eye of Day;
Nor ſhall the Dog-ſtar this Retreat invade,
As thro the Heav'ns he ſpeeds his burning Way:
The ſultry Lyon rages for his Prey.
Ah Phoebus, quench thy wild deſtroying Fire,
Each Flow'r, each Shrub doth ſink beneath thy Ray,
Save the freſh Laurel, that ſhall ne'er expire.
The leaves that crown a Bard, may brave celeſtial Ire.
Or ſhall I hie to mine own Hermitage,
Round which the wanton Vine her Arms doth wind,
There may I lonely turn the ſacred Page,
Improve my Reaſon, and amend my Mind;
Here 'gainſt Life's Ills a Remedy I find.
An hundred Flow'rs emboſs the verdant Ground;
A little Brook doth my ſweet Cottage bind,
Its Waters yield a melancholy Sound,
And ſooth to Study deep, or lull to Sleep profound.
[Page 10] III.
The play-ful Inſect hopping in the Graſs
Doth tire the Hearer with his Sonnet ſhrill;
The pool-ſprung Gnat on ſounding Wing doth paſs,
And on the * ramping Steed doth ſuck his Fill;
Ah me, can little Creatures work ſuch Ill!
The patient Cow doth, to eſchew the Heat,
Her Body ſteep within the neighb'ring Rill;
And while the Lambs in fainter Voices bleat,
Their Mothers hang the Head, in doleful Plight I weet.
†Rechleſs of Seaſons, ſee the luſty Swains
Along the Meadow ſpread the tawny Hay;
The Maidens too undaunted ſeek the Plains,
Ne fear to ſhow their Faces to the Ray;
But all, the honeſt Badge of Toil diſplay.
See how they mould the Hay-cock's riſing Head;
While wanton Colin, full of am'rous Play,
Down throweth Suſan, who doth ſhriek for Dread.
Fear not.—Thou canſt be hurt upon ſo ſoft a Bed.
[Page 11] V.
At length the Sun doth haſten to repoſe,
And all the Vault of Heav'n is ſtreak'd with Light;
In flamy Gold the ruddy Welkin glows,
And, for the Noon-day Heat, our Pains doth * quite,
For all is calm, ſerene, and paſſing bright.
Favonius gentle ſkims along the Grove,
And ſheds ſweet Odors from his Pennons light.
The little Bat in giddy Orbs doth rove,
And loud the Screech-owl ſhrieks, to rouſe her blue-ey'd Love.
Menalcas came to taſte the Ev'ning Gale,
His Cheeks impurpl'd with the Roſe of Youth;
He won each Damſel with his piteous Tale,
They thought they liſten'd to the Words of Truth,
Yet their Belief did work them muchel † Ruth.
His Oaths were light as Goſſimer, or Air,
His Tongue was pois'nous as an Aſpic's Tooth.
Ah! ceaſe to promiſe Joy, and give Deſpair.
'Tis brave to ſmite the Foe; 'tis baſe to wrong the Fair.
[Page 12] VII.
The gentle Thyrſis, mild as op'ning Morn,
Came to the Lawn, and Marian there was found,
Marian whom many Huſwife Arts adorn,
Right well ſhe knew the Apple to ſurround
With dulcet Cruſt; and Thomalin renown'd
For * prow Atchievements in the Wreſtling-ring;
He held at nought the Vantage of the Ground,
But prone to Earth the hardieſt Wight would fling;
Such was Alcides erſt, if Poets † Sooth do ſing.
From tree-crown'd Hill, from flow'r-enamel'd Vale,
The mild Inhabitants in Crowds appear
To tread a Meaſure; while Night's Regent pale
Doth thro' the Sky her Silver Chariot ſteer,
Whoſe lucid Wheels were deck'd with Dew-drops clear,
The which, like Pearls, deſcended on the Plain.
Now every Youth doth claſp his Miſtreſs dear,
And ev'ry Nymph rewards her conſtant Swain.
Thrice happy he who loves, and is belov'd again.
SEE jolly AUTUMN, clad in Hunter's Green,
In wholeſome * luſty-hed doth mount the Sphere,
A leafy Girlond binds her Temples ſheen,
Inſtudded richly with the ſpiky Ear.
Her right Hand bears a vine-incircl'd Spear,
Such as the Crew did wield whom Bacchus lad,
When to the Ganges he his Courſe did ſteer;
And in her left a Bugle-horn ſhe had,
On which ſhe † eft did blow, and made the Heart right glad.
In ſlow Proceſſion moves the tott'ring Wain,
The ſun-burnt Hinds their finiſh'd Toil ‡ enſue;
Now in the Barn they houſe the glit'ring Grain,
And there the Cries of 'Harveſt Home' renew,
The honeſt Farmer doth his Friends ‖ ſalew;
And them with Jugs of Ale his Wife doth treat,
Which, for that Purpoſe, ſhe at Home did brew;
They laugh, they ſport, and homely Jeſts repeat,
Then ſmack their Laſſes Lips, their Lips as Honey ſweet.
[Page 14] III.
On ev'ry Hill the purple-bluſhing Vine
Beneath her Leaves her racy Fruit doth hide.
*Albe ſhe pour not Floods of foaming Wine,
Yet are we not Potations bland deny'd;
See where the Pear-tree doth in Earth abide,
Bruiſe her rich Fruitage and the Grape diſdain;
The Apple too will grant a gen'rous Tyde,
To ſing whoſe Honours Thenot rais'd his Strain,
Whoſe ſoul-inchanting Lays ſtill charm the liſt'ning Plain.
Thro' greyiſh Miſts behold Aurora dawns,
And to his Sport the wary Fowler hies;
Crouching to Earth his guileful Pointer fawns,
Now the thick Stubble, now the Clover tries,
To find where, with his Race, the Partridge lies;
Ah! luckleſs Sire, ah! luckleſs Race, I ween,
Whom Force compels, or ſubtle Arts ſurprize;
Doom'd to eſcape the Deep, and periſh on the Green.
[Page 15] V.
The full-mouth'd Hounds purſue the tim'rous Hare,
And the Hills eccho to the joyful Cry;
Ah! borrow the light Pennons of the Air,
If you're * arraught, you die, poor Wretch, you die.
Nought will avail the pity-pleading Eye,
For our good 'Squire doth much againſt you rail,
And ſaith you often magic Arts do try;
At Times you wave Grimalkin's ſooty Tail,
Or on a Beeſom vild you thro' the Welkin ſail.
The Stag is rous'd; he ſtems the threat'ning Flood
That ſhall ere long his matchleſs Swiftneſs quell;
And, to avoid the Tumult of the Wood,
With Horn and Hoof his Purpoſe they repel.
Thus, ſhould a Maid from Virtue's Lore yſtray,
Your Sex, my Daphne, ſhow their Vengeance fell;
Your cruel ſelves with Gall the Shaft § embay,
And laſh from Pardon's Shrine the Penitent away.
[Page 16] VII.
Now Silence charms the Sages of the Gown,
To purer Air doth ſpeed each crafty Wight;
The well-ſqueez'd Client quits the duſty Town,
Grown grey in the aſſerting of his Right,
With Head yfraught with Law, and Pockets light,
Well pleas'd he wanders o'er the fallow Lea,
And views each rural Object with Delight.
Ne'er be my Lot the brawling Courts to ſee;
Who truſts to Lawyer's Tongue doth much * miſween, perdy.
Right bleſs'd the Man who free from bitter † Bale,
Doth in the little, peaceful Hamlet dwell,
No loud Contention doth his Ears aſſail,
Save when the Tempeſt whiſtles o'er his Cell;
The Fruitful Down, the flow'r-depainted Dell,
To pleaſe his Eyne are variouſly array'd';
And when in Roundelay his Flame he'd tell,
He gains a Smile from his beloved Maid;
By ſuch a gentle Smile, an Age of Pain's repaid.
THE little Brook that erſt my Cot did lave,
And o'er its flinty Pavement ſweetly ſung,
Doth now forget to roll her wanton Wave,
For Winter Hoar her icy Chain has flung
And ſtill'd the babbling Muſic of her Tongue.
The lonely Woodcock ſeeks the ſplaſhy Glen,
Each Mountain Head with fleecy Snow is hung;
The Snipe and Duck enjoy the mooriſh Fen,
Like * Eremites they live, and ſhun the Sight of Men.
The † wareleſs Sheep no longer bite the Mead,
No more the Plough-boy turns the ſtubborn Ground,
At the full Crib the horned Lab'rers feed,
Their Noſtrils caſt black Clouds of Smoak around;
A ſqualid Coat doth the lean Steed ſurround.
The wily Fox doth prowl abroad for Prey,
Rechleſs of Snares, or of th' avenging Hound;
And truſty Liftghoot, now no longer gay,31
Sleeps at the Kitchen Hearth his cheerleſs Hours away.
[Page 18] III.
Where erſt the Boat, and ſlowly moving Barge,
Did with Delight cut thro' the dimpling Plain,
Now wanton Boys, and Men do roam at large;
The River-Gods quit their uſurp'd Domain,
And of the Wrong at Neptune's Court complain.
There mote you ſee mild Avon crown'd with Flow'rs,
And milky Wey withouten Spot or Stain;
There the fair Stream that waſhes Hampton's Bow'rs,
And Iſis who with Pride beholds her learned Tow'rs.
Intent on Sport, the ever jocund Throng
Quit their warm Cots, and for the Game prepare;
Behold the reſtleſs Foot-ball whirls along,
Now near the Earth, now mounted high in Air.
Thus often Men, in Life's wild Lott'ry fare,
Who quit true Bliſs to graſp an empty Toy.
Our honeſt Swains for Wealth nor Titles care,
But luſty Health in Exerciſe employ.
The diſtant Village hears the rude, tumultuous Joy.
[Page 19] V.
The careful Hedger looks the Fields around
To ſee what Labour may his Skill demand;
He mends the Fence, repairs the ſinking Mound,
Or in long Drains he cuts the lower Land,
That ſhall henceforth all ſudden Floods withſtand.
Mean while at Home his Dame, with Silver Hair,
Doth ſit incircl'd by a goodly Band
Of lovely Maids, who various Works prepare,
All chaſte as Jove's wiſe Child, as Cupid's Mother fair.
She them diſcourſes not of Faſhions nice,
Nor of the trilling Notes which Eunuchs ſing,
Allurements vain, that prompt the Soul to Vice!
Ne tells ſhe them of Keſar or of King;
Too great the Subject for ſo mean a Ring.
Her Leſſons teach to ſwell the Capon's Size;
To make the Hen a num'rous Offspring bring;
Or how the way-ward Mother to chaſtize
When from her vetchy Neſt the weetleſs Vagrant hies.
[Page 20] VII.
When gliſt'ring Spangles deck the Robe of Night,
And all their Kine in Pens avoid the Cold,
The buxom Troops, ſtill eager of Delight,
Round Damon's Eyne a * Drapet white infold,
He darkling gropes 'till he ſome one can hold.
Next Corin hides his Head, and muſt impart
What wanton fair One ſmote his Hand ſo bold.
He Delia names, nor did from Truth depart;
For well he knew her Touch, who long had fir'd his Heart.
Stay I conjure you by your Hopes of Bliſs,
Truſt not, my Daphne, the rough-biting Air,
Let not rude Winds thoſe Lips of Softneſs kiſs,
Will Eurus ſtern, the Charms of Beauty ſpare?
No, he will hurt my roſy-featur'd Fair,
If aught ſo bright dares rugged Carl invade,
Too tender thou ſuch rough aſſaults to bear;
The Mountain Aſh may ſtand tho' ſtrip'd of Shade,
But at the ſlighteſt Wound the ſilken Flow'r will fade.
Daedalus envying Perdix his Nephew's Skill in Mechanics, threw him into the Sea. He eſcaped Death by being changed into a Partridge.