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Though captive all day long 't is true,
At night I am as free as you;

Not ramparts high, nor dungeons deep,
Can hold me when I'm fast asleep.

But every thing is good in season,
I dream at large—and wake in prison.
Yet think not, sir, I lie too late,
I rise as early even as eight:
Ten hours of drowsiness are plenty,
For any man, in four-and-twenty.
You smile and yet 't is nobly done,

I'm but five hours behind the sun!

When dress'd, I to the yard repair, And breakfast on the pure, fresh air: But though this choice Castalian cheer Keeps both the head and stomach clear, For reasons strong enough with me, I mend the meal with toast and tea. Now air and fame, as poets sing, Are both the same, the self-same thing; Yet bards are not cameleons quite, And heavenly food is very light; Who ever dined or supp'd on fame, And went to bed upon a name?

Breakfast despatch'd, I sometimes read, To clear the vapors from my head; For books are magic charms, I ween, Both for the crotchets and the spleen.

When genius, wisdom, wit abound,

Where sound is sense, and sense is sound;
When art and nature both combine,

And live, and breathe, in every line;
The reader glows along the page
With all the author's native rage!

But books there are with nothing fraught, —
Ten thousand words, and ne'er a thought;
Where periods without period crawl,
Like caterpillars on a wall,

That fall to climb, and climb to fall;
While still their efforts only tend
To keep them from their journey's end.
The readers yawn with pure vexation,
And nod- but not with approbation.
In such a fog of dulness lost,

Poor patience must give up the ghost;
Not Argus' eyes awake could keep,
Even Death might read himself to sleep.

At half-past ten, or thereabout,
My eyes are all upon the scout,
To see the lounging post-boy come,
With letters or with news from home.
Believe it, on a captive's word,
Although the doctrine seem absurd,
The paper-messengers of friends
For absence almost make amends:
But if you think I jest or lie,
Come to York Castle, sir, and try.

Sometimes to fairy land I rove: Those iron rails become a grove; These stately buildings fall away To moss-grown cottages of clay; Debtors are changed to jolly swains, Who pipe and whistle on the plains; Yon felons grim, with fetters bound, Are satyrs wild, with garlands crown'd; Their clanking chains are wreaths of flowers; Their horrid cells ambrosial bowers: The oaths, expiring on their tongues, Are metamorphosed into songs; While wretched female prisoners, lo! Are Dian's nymphs of virgin snow. Those hideous walls with verdure shoot; These pillars bend with blushing fruit; That dunghill swells into a mountain, The pump becomes a purling fountain; The noisome smoke of yonder mills, The circling air with fragrance fills; This horse-pond spreads into a lake, And swans of ducks and geese I make Sparrows are changed to turtle-doves, That bill and coo their pretty loves; Wagtails, turn'd thrushes, charm the vales, And tomtits sing like nightingales.

No more the wind through key-holes whistles, But sighs on beds of pinks and thistles;

The rattling rain that beats without,

And gurgles down the leaden spout,

In light, delicious dew distils,

And melts away in amber rills;
Elysium rises on the green,

And health and beauty crown the scene.

Then by the enchantress Fancy led,
On violet banks I lay my head;
Legions of radiant forms arise,
In fair array, before mine eyes;
Poetic visions gild my brain,
And melt in liquid air again;
As in a magic-lantern clear,
Fantastic images appear,

That beaming from the spectred glass,
In beautiful succession pass,

Yet steal the lustre of their light
From the deep shadow of the night:
Thus, in the darkness of my head,
Ten thousand shining things are bred,
That borrow splendor from the gloom,
As glow-worms twinkle in a tomb.

But lest these glories should confound me, Kind Dulness draws her curtain round me; The visions vanish in a trice,

And I awake as cold as ice :

Nothing remains of all the vapor,
Save-what I send you

ink and paper.

Thus flow my morning hours along, Smooth as the numbers of my song :

Yet let me wander as I will,
I feel I am a prisoner still.

Thus Robin, with the blushing breast,
Is ravish'd from his little nest
By barbarous boys who bind his leg,
To make him flutter round a peg:
See the glad captive spreads his wings,
Mounts, in a moment, mounts and sings,
When suddenly the cruel chain
Twitches him back to earth again.

The clock strikes one I can't delay,
For dinner comes but once a day;
At present, worthy friend, farewell;
But by to-morrow's post I'll tell,
How, during these half-dozen moons,
I cheat the lazy afternoons.

June 13, 1796.

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