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FAIR pledges of a fruitful tree,
Why do ye fall so fast?
Your date is not so past,
But you may stay yet here awhile
To blush and gently smile,
And go at last.
What! were ye born to be
An hour or half's delight,
And so to bid good night?
"Twas pity nature brought you forth
Merely to show your worth,
And lose you quite.
But ye are lovely leaves, where we
May read how soon things have
Their end, though ne'er so brave;
And after they have shown their pride,
Like you awhile, they glide
In every village mark'd with little spire,
Embower'd in trees, and hardly known to Fame,
There dwells in lowly shed, and mean attire,
A matron old, whom we Schoolmistress name;
Who boasts unruly brats with birch to tame;
They grieven sore, in piteous durance pent,
Aw'd by the power of this relentless dame;
And ofttimes, on vagaries idly bent,
For unkempt hair, or task unconn'd, are sorely shent.
Near to this dome is found a patch so green,
On which the tribe their gambols do display ;
And at the door imprisoning-board is seen,
Lest weakly wights of smaller size should stray;
Eager, perdie, to bask in sunny day!
The noises intermix'd, which thence resound,
Do Learning's little tenement betray;
Where sits the dame, disguised in look profound, And eyes her fairy throng, and turns her wheel around.
Her cap, far whiter than the driven snow,
Emblem right meet of decency does yield:
Her apron dyed in grain, as blue, I trowe,
As is the hare-bell that adorns the field:
And in her hand, for sceptre, she does wield
Tway birchin sprays; with anxious fears entwined,
With dark distrust, and sad repentance fill'd;
And steadfast hate, and sharp affliction join'd,
And fury uncontroll'd, and chastisement unkind.
DID sweeter sounds adorn my flowing tongue
Than ever man pronounced, or angels sung;
Had I all knowledge, human and divine,
That thought can reach, or science can define;
And had I power to give that knowledge birth
In all the speeches of the babbling earth;
Did Shadrach's zeal my glowing breast inspire
To weary tortures and rejoice in fire;
Or had I faith like that which Israel saw
When Moses gave them miracles and law:
Yet, gracious Charity! indulgent guest,
Were not thy power exerted in my breast,
Those speeches would send up unheeded prayer,
That scorn of life would be but wild despair;
A cymbal's sound were better than my voice-
My faith were form, my eloquence were noise.
To hear the lark begin his flight,
And singing startle the dull night,
From his watch-tow'r in the skies,
Till the dappled dawn doth rise;
Then to come in spite of sorrow,
And at my window bid good morrow
Through the sweetbriar, or the vine,
Or the twisted eglantine;
While the cock with lively din
Scatters the rear of darkness thin,
And to the stack, or the barn-door,
Stoutly struts his dames before :
Oft list'ning how the hounds and horn
Cheerly rouse the slumb'ring morn,
From the side of some hoar hill,
Through the high wood echoing shrill :
Sometime walking not unseen
By hedge-row elms, on hillocks green,
Right against the eastern gate,
Where the great sun begins his state,
Robed in flames, and amber light,
The clouds in thousand liveries dight;
While the ploughman near at hand
Whistles o'er the furrow'd land,
And the milkmaid singeth blithe,
And the mower whets his scythe,
And every shepherd tells his tale
Under the hawthorn in the dale.
Straight mine eye hath caught new pleasures,
Whilst the landscape round it measures,
Russet lawns, and fallows gray,
Where the nibbling flocks do stray.
How still the morning of the hallow'd day!
Mute is the voice of rural labour, hush'd
The ploughboy's whistle and the milkmaid's song,
The scythe lies glittering in the dewy wreath
Of tedded grass, mingled with fading flowers,
That yester-morn bloom'd waving in the breeze:
Sounds the most faint attract the ear,—the hum
Of early bee, the trickling of the dew,
The distant bleating midway up the hill.
Calmness sits throned on yon unmoving cloud.
To him who wanders o'er the upland leas,
The blackbird's note comes mellower from the dale;
And sweeter from the sky the gladsome lark
Warbles his heaven-tuned song; the lulling brook
Murmurs more gently down the deep-worn glen ;