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CONTENTMENT, parent of delight,
So much a stranger to our sight,
Say, goddess, in what happy place
Mortals behold thy blooming face,
Thy gracious auspices impart,
And for thy temple choose my heart.
They whom thou deignest to inspire,
Thy science learn to bound desire;
By happy alchemy of mind
They turn to pleasure all they find,
They both disdain in outward mien
The grave and solemn garb of spleen,
And meretricious arts of dress,
To feign a joy, and hide distress;
Unmoved when the rude tempest blows,
Without an opiate they repose ;
And, covered by your shield, defy
The whizzing shafts, that round them fly:
Nor meddling with the gods' affairs,
Concern themselves with distant cares ;
But place their bliss in mental rest,
And feast upon the good possessed.
Forced by soft violence of prayer,
The blithsome goddess soothes my care ;
I feel the deity inspire,
And thus she models my desire.
Two hundred pounds half yearly paid,
Annuity securely made,
A farm some twenty miles from town,
Small, tight, salubrious, and my own;
Two maids, that never saw the town,
A serving man, not quite a clown;
A boy to help to tread the mow,
And drive, while t'other holds the plough;
A chief, of temper formed to please,
Fit to converse, and keep the keys;
And better to preserve the peace,
Commissioned by the name of niece;
With understandings of a size
To think their master very wise.
May Heaven (it's all I wish for) send
One genial room to treat a friend,
Were decent cupboard, little plate,
Display benevolence, not state.
And may my humble dwelling stand
Upon some chosen spot of land :
A pond before full to the brim,
Where cows may cool, and geese may swim:
Behind, a green like velvet neat,
Soft to the eye, and to the feet;
Where odorous plants in evening fair
Breathe all around embrosial air;
From Eurus, foe to kitchen ground,
Fenced by a slope with bushes crowned,
Fit dwelling for the feathered throng,
Who pay their quit-rents with a song;
With opening views of hill and dale,
Which sense and fancy too regale,
Where the half-cirque, which vision bounds,
Like amphitheatre surrounds;
And woods impervious to the breeze,
Thick phalanx of embodied trees,
From hills through plains in dusk array
Extended far, repel the day.
Here stillness, height, and solemn shade
Invite, and contemplation aid :
Here nymphs from hollow oaks relate
The dark decrees and will of Fate,
And dreams beneath the spreading beech
Inspire, and docile fancy teach;
While soft as breezy breath of wind
Impulses rustle through the mind.
Here Dryads, scorning Phæbus' ray,
While Pan melodious pipes away,
In measured motion frisk about,
Till old Silenus puts them out.
There see the clover, pea, and bean,
Vie in variety of green;
Fresh pastures speckled o'er with sheep,
Brown fields their fallow sabbaths keep,
Plump Ceres golden tresses wear,
And poppy top-knots deck her hair,
And silver streams through meadows stray,
And Naïads on the margin play,
Mixe be a cot beside the hill;
A bee-hive's hum shall soothe my ear;
A willowy brook, that turns a mill,
With many a fall shall linger near.
The swallow, oft, beneath my thatch,
Shall twitter from her clay-built nest;
Oft shall the pilgrim lift the latch,
And share my meal, a welcome guest.
Around my ivied porch shall spring
Each fragrant flower that drinks the dew
And Lucy, at her wheel, shall sing
In russet gown and apron blue.
The village-church, among the trees,
Where first our marriage-vows were given,
With merry peals shall swell the breeze,
And point with taper-spire to heaven.
Her poverty was glad; her heart content,
Nor knew she what the spleen or vapour meant.
METHINKS how dainty sweet it were, reclined
Beneath the vast out-spreading branches high
Of some old wood, in careless sort to lie,
Nor of the busier scenes we left behind
Aught envying. And, O Anna! mild-eyed maid !
Beloved ! I were well content to play
With thy free tresses all a summer's day,
Losing the time beneath the greenwood shade
Or we might sit and tell some tender tale
Of faithful vows repaid by cruel scorn,
A tale of true love, or of friend forgot;
And I would teach thee, lady, how to rail
In gentle sort, on those who practise not
Or love or pity, though of woman born.
As in those domes where Cæsars once bore sway
Defac'd by time, and tott'ring in decay,
There in the ruin, heedless of the dead,
The shelter-seeking peasant builds his shed;
And wondering man could want a larger pile,
Exults, and owns his cottage with a smile.