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Though captive all day long 't is true,
Not ramparts high, nor dungeons deep,
But every thing is good in season,
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;
And live, and breathe, in every line;
But books there are with nothing fraught, —
That fall to climb, and climb to fall;
Poor patience must give up the ghost;
At half-past ten, or thereabout,
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;
And health and beauty crown the scene.
Then by the enchantress Fancy led,
That beaming from the spectred glass,
Yet steal the lustre of their light
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,
ink and paper.
Thus flow my morning hours along, Smooth as the numbers of my song :
Yet let me wander as I will,
Thus Robin, with the blushing breast,
The clock strikes one I can't delay,
June 13, 1796.