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THE DESERTED VILLAGE

151

Dear lovely bowers of innocence and ease,
Seats of my youth, when every sport could please,
How often have I loiter'd o'er thy green,
Where humble happiness endear'd each scene;
How often have I paused on every charm,
The shelter'd cot, the cultivated farm,
The never-failing brook, the busy mill,
The decent church that topp’d. the neighbouring

hill,
The hawthorn bush, with seats beneath the shade,
For talking age and whisp'ring lovers made;
How often have I bless'd the coming day,
When toil remitting lent its turn to play,
And all the village train, from labour free,
Led up their sports beneath the spreading tree;
While many a pastime circled in the shade,
The young contending as the old survey'd;
And many a gambol frolick'd o'er the ground,
And sleight of art and feats of strength went

round; And still as each repeated pleasure tired, Succeeding sports the mirthful band inspired; The dancing pair that simply sought renown, By holding out to tire each other down; The swain mistrustless of his smutted face, While secret laughter titter'd round the place; The bashful virgin's side-long looks of love, The matron's glance that would those looks reprove: These were thy charms, sweet village; sports like

these, With sweet succession, taught e'en toil to please;

These round thy bowers their cheerful influence

shed, These were thy charms — But all these charms are

fled.

Sweet smiling village, loveliest of the lawn, Thy sports are fled, and all thy charms withdrawn; Amidst thy bowers the tyrant's hand is seen, And desolation saddens all thy green: One only master grasps the whole domain, And half a tillage stints thy smiling plain: No more thy glassy brook reflects the day, But choked with sedges, works its weedy way. Along thy glades, a solitary guest, The hollow-sounding bittern guards its nest; Amidst thy desert walks the lapwing flies, And tires their echoes with unvaried cries. Sunk are thy bowers in shapeless ruin all, And the long grass o'ertops the mould'ring wall; And trembling, shrinking from the spoiler's hand, Far, far away, thy children leave the land.

Ill fares the land, to hast'ning ills a prey,
Where wealth accumulates, and men decay:
Princes and lords may flourish, or may fade;
A breath can make them, as a breath has made;
But a bold peasantry, their country's pride,
When once destroy'd, can never be supplied.

A time there was, ere England's griefs began, When every rood of ground maintain'd its man;

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For him light labour spread her wholesome store,
Just gave what life required, but gave no more:
His best companions, innocence and health;
And his best riches, ignorance of wealth.

But times are alter'd; trade's unfeeling train Usurp the land and dispossess the swain; Along the lawn, where scatter'd hamlets rose, Unwieldy wealth, and cumbrous pomp repose; And every want to opulence allied, And every pang that folly pays to pride. Those gentle hours that plenty bade to bloom, Those calm desires that ask'd but little room, Those healthful sports that graced the peaceful scene, Lived in each look, and brighten'd all the green; These, far departing, seek a kinder shore, And rural mirth and manners are no more.

Sweet AUBURN! parent of the blissful hour, Thy glades forlorn confess the tyrant's power. Here as I take my solitary rounds, Amidst thy tangling walks, and ruin'd grounds, And, many a year elapsed, return to view Where once the cottage stood, the hawthorn grew, Remembrance wakes with all her busy train, Swells at my breast, and turns the past to pain.

In all my wanderings round this world of care, In all my griefs - and God has given my share — I still had hopes my latest hours to crown, Amidst 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,
Amidst the swains to show my book-learn'd 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 pursue,
Pants to the place from whence at first she flew,
I still had hopes, my long vexations pass'd,
Here to return and die at home at last.

O blest retirement, friend to life's decline, Retreats from care, that never must be mine, How happy he who crowns in shades like these, A youth of labour with an age of ease; Who quits a world where strong temptations try, And, since 't is hard to combat, learns to fly! For him no wretches, born to work and weep, Explore the mine, or tempt the dangerous deep; No 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; Bends to the grave with unperceived decay, While Resignation gently slopes the way; And, all his prospects bright'ning to the last, His Heaven commences ere the world be pass’d!

Sweet was the sound, when oft at evening's close Up yonder hill the village murmur rose; There, as I pass'd with careless steps and slow,

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The mingling notes came soften'd from below;
The swain responsive as the milk-maid sung,
The sober herd that low'd to meet their young;
The noisy geese that gabbled o'er the pool,
The playful children just let loose from school;
The watchdog's voice that bay'd the whisp'ring wind,
And the loud laugh that spoke the vacant mind:
These all in sweet confusion sought the shade,
And fill'd each pause the nightingale had made.
But now the sounds of population fail,
No cheerful murmurs fluctuate in the gale,
No busy steps the grass-grown foot-way tread,
For all the bloomy flush of life is filed.
All but yon widow'd, solitary thing
That feebly bends beside the plashy spring;
She, wretched matron, forced, in age, for bread,
To strip the brook with mantling cresses spread,
To pick her wintry faggot 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.

Near yonder copse, where once the garden smiled, And still where many a garden flower grows wild; There, where a few torn shrubs the place disclose, The village preacher's modest 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 changed, nor wish'd to change his place; Unpractised he to fawn, or seek for power,

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