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I still had hopes, my lātèst hours to crown,
Amid these humble bowers to lay me down ;
To husband out life's taper at the close,
And keep the flame from wasting by repose :
I still had hopes,--for pride attends us still,-
Amid the swains to show my book-learned skill ;
Around my fire an evening group to draw,
And tell of all I felt and all I saw ;
And as a hare, whom hounds and horns pursūe,
Pants to the place from whence at first she flew,
I still had hopes, my long vexations past,
Here to return-and die at home at last.
6. O blessed retirement! friend to life's decline,
Retreat from care, that never must be mine,
How blessed is he who crowns, in shades like these,
A youth of labor with an age of ease ;
Who quits a world where strong temptations try,
And, since 'tis hard to combat, learns to fly!
For him no wretches, born to work and weep,
Explore the mine, or tempt the dangerous deep;
Nor surly porter stands, in guilty state,
To spurn imploring famine from the gate;
But on he moves to meet his latter end,
Angels around befriending virtue's friend ;
Sinks to the grave with unperceived decay,
While resignation gently slopes the way;
And all his prospects brightening to the last,
His heaven commences ere the world be past.
7. Sweet was the sound, when oft, at evening's close,
Up yonder hill the village murmur rose :
There, as I passed with careless steps and slow
The mingling notes came softened from below;
The swain responsive as the milkmaid sung,
The sober herd that lowed to meet their young ;
The noisy geese that gabbled o'er the pool,
The playful children just let loose from school;
The watch-dog's voice that bayed the whispering wind,
And the loud laugh that spoke the vacant mind :
These all in sweet confusion sought the shade,
And filled each pause the nightingale had made.
8. But now the sounds of population fail,
No cheerful murmurs fluctuate in the gale,
No busy steps the grass-grown footway tread,
But all the bloomy flush of life is filed :
All but yon widowed, solitary thing,
That feebly bends beside the plashy spring :
She, wretched mātron, forced in age, for bread,
To strip the brook with mantling cresses spread,
To pick her wintry fagot from the thorn,
To seek her nightly shed, and weep till morn-
She only left of all the harmless train,
The sad historian of the pensive plain.
48. THE DESERTED VILLAGE.
EAR yonder copse, where once the garden smiled,
And still where many a garden-flower grows wild, There, where a few tõrn shrubs the place disclose, The village preacher's modèst mansion rose. A man he was to all the country dear, And passing rich with forty pounds a year ; Remote from towns he ran his godly race, Nor e'er had chānged, nor wished to change, his place. Unskillful he to fawn or seek for power, By doctrines fashioned to the varying hour : Far other aims his heart had learned to prize,
More bent to raise the wretched than to rise. 2. His house was known to all the vāgrant train :
He chid their wanderings, but relieved their pain ;
The long-remembered beggar was his guest,
Whose bēard, descending, swept his aged breast;
The ruined spendthrift, now no longer proud,
Claimed kindred there, and had his claims allowed.
The broken soldier, kindly băde to stay,
Sat by his fire, and talked the night away,
Wept o'er his wounds, or, tales of sorrow done,
Shouldered his crutch, and showed how fields were won.
Pleased with his guests, the good man learned to glow,
And quite forgot their vices in their woe ;
Careless their merits or their faults to scan,
His pity gave ere charity began.
3. Thus, to relieve the wretched was his pride,
And e'en his failings leaned to virtue's side;
But in his duty prompt at every call,
He watched and wept, he prayed and felt, for all.
And, as a bird each fond endearmènt tries
To tempt its new-fledged offspring to the skies,
He tried each art, reproved cach dull delay,
Allured to brighter worlds, and led the way.
Beside the bed where parting life was laid,
And sorrow, guilt, and pain by turns dismayed,
The reverend champion stood. At his control,
Despair and anguish fled the struggling soul;
Comfort came down the trembling wretch to raise,
And his last faltering accents whispered praise. 4. At church, with meek and unaffected grace,
His looks adorned the venerable place ;
Truth from his lips prevailed with double swāy,
And fools, who came to scoff, remained to prāy.
The service past, around the pious man,
With steady zeal, each honèst rustic ran;
E'en children followed with endearing wile,
And plucked his gown to share the good man's smile.
His ready smile a parent's warmth expressed ;
Their welfare pleased him, and their cares distressed :
To them his heart, his love, his griefs, were given,
But all his serious thoughts had rest in heaven.
As some tall cliff, that lifts its awful form,
Swells from the vale, and midway leaves the storm,
Though round its breast the rolling clouds are spread,
Eternal sunshine settles its head.
5. Beside yon straggling fence that skirts the way,
With blossomed furze unprofitably gay,
There, in his noisy mansion, skilled to rule,
The village master taught his little school :
A man severe he was, and stern to view :
I knew him well, and every truant knew ;
Well had the boding tremblers learned to trace
The day's disasters in bis morning face ;
Full well they laughed with counterfeited glee
At all his jokes, for many a joke had he;
Full well the busy whisper, circling round,
Conveyed the dismal tidings when he frowned. 6. Yet he was kind, or, if severe in aught,
The love he bore to learning was in fault;
The village all declared how much he knew-
'Twas certain he could write, and cipher too;
Lands he could measure, terms and tides presāge,
And e'en the story ran that he could gāuge.
In arguing, too, the parson owned his skill,
For e'en though vanquished, he could argue still ;
While words of learned length and thundering sound
Amazed the gazing rustics ranged around;
And still they gazed, and still the wonder grew,
That one small head could carry all he knew.
But past is all his fame. The věry spot
Where many a time he triumphed is forgot.
7. Near yonder thorn, that lifts its head on high,
Where once the sign-post caught the passing eye,
Low lies that house where nut-brown draughts inspired,
Where graybēard mirth and smiling toil retired,
Where village statesmen talked with looks profound,
And news much older than their ale went round.
Imagination fondly stops to trace
The parlor splendors of that festive place;
The white-washed wall, the nicely-sanded floor,
The varnished clock that clicked behind the door ;
The chest, contrived a double debt to pay,
A bed by night, a chest of drawers by day;
The pictures placed for ornament and use,
The twelve good rules, the royal game of goose ;
The hearth, except when winter chilled the day,
With aspen boughs, and flowers, and fennel gay;
While broken teacups, wisely kept for show,
Rănged o'er the chimney, glistened in a row. 8. Vain, transitory splendors! could not all
Reprieve the tottering mansion from its fall?
Obscure it sinks, nor shall it more impart
An hour's importance to the poor man's heart;
Thither no more the peasant shall repair
To sweet oblivion of his daily care ;
No more the farmer's news, the barber's tale,
No more the woodman's ballad shall prevail ;
No more the smith his dusky brow shall clear,
Relax his ponderous strength, and learn to hear ;
The host himself no longer shall be found
Careful to see the mantling bliss go round;
Nor the coy maid, half willing to be pressed,
Shall kiss the cup to pass it to the rest.
9. Yěs! let the rich deride, the proud disdain,
These simple blessings of the lowly train ;
To me more dear, congenial to my heart,
One native charm than all the gloss of art;
Spontaneous joys, where nature has its plāy,
The soul adopts, and owns their first-born swāy;
Lightly they frolic o'er the vacant mind,
Unenvied, unmolested, unconfined.
But the lòng pomp, the midnight masquerade,
With all the freaks of wanton wealth arrayed,
In these, ere triflers half their wish obtain,
The toiling pléasure sickens into pain;
And e’en while fashion's brightest arts decoy,
The heart, distrusting, asks if this be joy.
49. THE DESERTED VILLAGE.
E friends to truth, ye statesmen, who survey
'Tis yours to judge how wide the limits stand
Between a splendid and a happy land.
Proud swells the tide with loads of freighted ore,
And shouting Folly hails them from her shūre ;
Hoards e'en beyond the miser's wish abound,
And rich men flock from all the world around.
Yět count our gains. This wealth is but a name,
That leaves our useful products still the same.