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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 aspen tall. Th’uncurling floods, diffus'd
In glassy breadth, seem 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. Even 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 the 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 beam.
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 th' interminable plain,
In twinkling myriads lights the dewy gems.
Moist, bright, and green, the landscape laughs around.
Full swell the woods; their very music wakes,
Mix'd in wild concert with the warbling brooks
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
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 show'ry prism;
And to the sage-instructed eye unfold
The various twine of light, by thee disclos'd
From the white mingling maze. Not so the boy ;
He wond'ring 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,
A soften'd shade, and saturated earth
Awaits the morning beam, to give to light,
Rais’d through ten thousand different plastic tubes, 220
The balmy treasures of the former day.
Then spring the living herbs, profusely wild,
O'er all the deep green earth, beyond the pow'r
Of botanist to number up their tribes:
Whether he steals along the lonely dale,
In silent search ; or through the forest, rank
With what the dull incurious weeds account,
Bursts his blind way; or climbs the mountain-rock,
Fired by the nodding verdure of its brow.
With such a lib'ral hand has Nature flung
Their seeds abroad, blown them about in winds,
Innumerous mix'd them with the nursing mould,
The moistening current, and prolific rain.
But who their virtues can declare? who pierce,
With vision pure, into these secret stores
Of health, and life, and joy ? the food of Man,
While yet he liv'd in innocence, and told
A length of golden years ; unflesh'd in blood;
A stranger to the savage arts of life,
Death, rapine, carnage, surfeit, and disease ;
The lord, and not the tyrant, of the world.
The first fresh dawn then wak’d the gladden'd race
Of uncorrupted Man, nor blush'd to see
The sluggard sleep beneath its sacred beam :
For their light slumbers gently fum'd away;
And up they rose as vigorous as the Sun,
Or to the culture of the willing glebe,
Or to the cheerful tendance of the flock.
Meantime the song went round; and dance and sport,
Wisdom and friendly talk, successive, stole
Their hours away : while in the rosy vale
Love breath'd his infant sighs, from anguish free,
And full replete with bliss ; save the sweet pain,
That inly thrilling, but exalts it more.
Nor yet injurious act, nor surly deed,
Was known among those happy sons of Heaven :
For reason and benevolence were law.
Harmonious Nature too look'd smiling on.
Clear shone the skies, coold with eternal gales
And balmy spirit all. The youthful Sun
Shot his best rays, and still the gracious clouds
Dropp'd fatness down; as o'er the swelling mead
The herds and flocks, commixing, play'd secure.
This when, emergent from the gloomy wood,
The glaring lion saw, his horrid heart
Was meeken'd, and he join'd his süllen joy.
For music held the whole in perfect peace :
Soft sigh’d the flute; the tender voice was heard,
Warbling the varied heart; the woodlands round
Applied their quire ; and winds and waters flow'd
In consonance. Such were those prime of days.
But now those white unblemish'd manners, whence
The fabling poets took their golden age,
Are found no more amid these iron times,
These dregs of life! Now the distemper'd mind
Has lost that concord of harmonious powers,
Which forms the soul of happiness; and all
Is off the poise within : the passions all
Have burst their bounds; and Reason, half extinct,
Or impotent, or else approving, sees
The foul disorder. Senseless and deform’d,
Convulsive Anger storms at large; or pale,
And silent, settles into fell Revenge.
Base Envy withers at another's joy,
And hates that excellence it cannot reach.
Desponding Fear, of feeble fancies full,
Weak and unmanly, loosens every power.
Even Love itself is bitterness of soul,
A pensive anguish pining at the heart ;
Or, sunk to sordid interest, feels no more
That noble wish, that never cloy'd desire,
Which, selfish joy disdaining, seeks alone
To bless the dearer object of its flame.
Hope sickens with extravagance; and Grief,
Of life impatient, into Madness swells,
Or in dead silence wastes the weeping hours.
These, and a thousand mixt emotions more,
From ever-changing views of good and ill,
Form’d infinitely various, vex the mind
With endless storm : whence, deeply rankling, grows
The partial thought, a listless unconcern,
Cold, and averting from our neighbour's good ;
Then dark disgust, and hatred, winding wiles,
Coward deceit, and ruffian violence :
At last, extinct each social feeling, fell
And joyless inhumanity pervades
And petrifies the heart. Nature disturb'd
Is deem'd, vindictive, to have chang'd her course.
Hence, in old dusky time, a deluge came :
When the deep-cleft disparting orb, that arch'd
The central waters round, impetuous rush’d,
With universal burst, into the gulf,
And o'er the high-pild hills of fractur'd earth
Wide dash'd the waves, in undulation vast;
Till, from the centre to the streaming clouds,
A shoreless ocean tumbled round the globe.
The Seasons since have, with severer sway,
Oppress'd a broken world : the Winter keen
Shook forth his waste of snows; and Summer shot
His pestilential beats. Great Spring, before,
Green'd all the year; and fruits and blossoms blush’d,
In social sweetness, on the self-same bough.
Pure was the temperate air ; an even calm
Perpetual reign’d, save what the Zephyrs bland