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Through primrose tufts, in that sweet bower,
Enjoys the air it breathes.
The birds around me hopp'd and play'd :
Their thoughts I cannot measure,
But the least motion which they made,
The budding twigs spread' out their fan,
To catch the breezy air;
And I must think, do all I can,
If I these thoughts may not prevent,.
Have I not reason to lament
What man has made of man?
Written in April, 1798.
No cloud, no relique of the sunken day
And hark! the Nightingale begins its song, "Most musical, most melancholy"* Bird! A melancholy Bird? O idle thought!
In nature there is nothing melancholy.
-But some night-wandering Man, whose heart was pierc'd With the remembrance of a grievous wrong,
Or slow distemper or neglected love,
(And so, poor Wretch! fill'd all things with himself
And made all gentle sounds tell back the tale
Of his own sorrows) he and such as he
First named these notes a melancholy strain:
Poet, who hath been building up the rhyme
* "Most musical, most melancholy." This passage in Milton possesses an excellence far superior to that of mere description: it is spoken in the character of the melancholy Man, and has therefore a dramatic propriety. The Author makes this remark, to rescue himself from the charge of having alluded with levity to a line in Milton: a charge than which none could be more painful to him, except perhaps that of having ridiculed his Bible.
When, he had better far have stretch'd his limbs
Beside a brook in mossy forest-dell
By sun or moonlight, to the influxes
Of shapes and sounds and shifting elements
A venerable thing! and so his song:
Full of meek sympathy must heave their sighs
My Friend, and my Friend's Sister! we have learnt
And joyance! 'Tis the merry Nightingale
That crowds, and hurries, and precipitates
In wood and thicket over the wide grove
They answer and provoke each other's songsWith skirmish and capricious passagings,
And murmurs musical and swift jug jug
And one low piping sound more sweet than allStirring the air with such an harmony,