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I look'd and look'd, and still with new delight;
Such joy my soul, such pleasures filld my sight:
And the fresh eglantine exhaled a breath,
Whose odours were of power to raise from death.
Nor sullen discontent, nor anxious care,
E'en though brought thither, could inhabit there :
But thence they fled as from their mortal foe,
For this sweet place could only pleasure know.
Thus as I mused, I cast aside my eye,
And saw a medlar-tree was planted nigh.
The spreading branches made a goodly show,
And full of opening blooms was every bough.
A goldfinch there I saw with gaudy pride
Of painted plumes, that hopp'd from side to side,
Still pecking as she pass'd; and still she drew
The sweets from every flower, and suck'd the dew :
Sufficed at length, she warbled in her throat,
And tuned her voice to many a merry note,
But indistinct, and neither sweet nor clear,
Yet such as soothed my soul, and pleased my ear.
Her short performance was no sooner tried, When she I sought, the nightingale, replied : So sweet, so shrill, so variously she sung, That the grove echo'd, and the valleys rung: And I so ravish'd with her heavenly note, I stood entranced, and had no room for thought; But all o'erpowered with ecstasy of bliss, Was in a pleasing dream of paradise. At length I waked, and looking round the bower, Search'd every tree, and pried on every flower, If anywhere by chance I might espy The rural poet of the melody: For still methought she sung not far away. At last I found her on a laurel spray:
Close by my side she sat, and fair in sight,
Full in a line, against her opposite;
Where stood with eglantine the laurel twined,
And both their native sweets were well conjoin'd.
On the green bank I sat, and listen'd long ;
(Sitting was more convenient for the song :)
Nor till her lay was ended could I move,
But wish'd to dwell for ever in the grove.
Only methought the time too swiftly pass'd,
And every note I fear'd would be the last.
My sight, and smell, and hearing were employ'd,
And all three senses in full gust enjoy'd.
And what alone did all the rest surpass,
The sweet possession of the fairy place;
Single, and conscious to myself alone
Of pleasures to the excluded world unknown;
Pleasures which nowhere else were to be found,
And all Elysium in a spot of ground.
The Flower and the Leaf.
STATESMEN OF THE XVII. CENTURY,
Of these the false Achitophel was first,
A name to all succeeding ages curst:
For close designs and crooked counsels fit;
Sagacious, bold, and turbulent of wit ;
Restless, unfix'd in principles and place;
In power unpleased, impatient of disgrace:
A fiery soul, which, working out its way,
Fretted the pigmy-body to decay,
And o'er-informed the tenement of clay,
A daring pilot in extremity;
Pleased with the danger, when the waves went high
He sought the storms; but for a calm unfit,
Would steer too nigh the sands to boast his wit.
Great wits are sure to madness near allied,
And thin partitions do their bounds divide;
Else why should he, with wealth and honour blest,
the needful hours of rest ?
Punish a body which he could not please ;
Bankrupt of life, yet prodigal of ease ?
And all to leave what with his toil he won,
To that unfeather'd two-legg'd thing, a son ;
Got while his soul did huddled notions try,
And born a shapeless lump, like anarchy.
In friendship false, implacable in hate ;
Resolved to ruin or to rule the state.
To compass this the triple bond he broke ;
The pillars of the public safety shook ;
And fitted Israel for a foreign yoke:
Then seized with fear, yet still affecting fame,
Usurp'd a patriot's all-atoning name.
So easy still it proves, in factious times,
With public zeal to cancel private crimes.
How safe is treason, and how sacred ill,
Where none can sin against the people's will!
Where crowds can wink, and no offence be known,
Since in another's guilt they find their own!
Absalom and Achitophel.
(Duke of Buckingham.) Some of their chiefs were princes of the land : In the first rank of these did Zimri stand
; A man so various, that he seem'd to be Not one, but all. mankind's epitome :
Stiff in opinions, always in the wrong;
Was everything by starts, and nothing long;
But, in the course of one revolving moon,
Was chymist, fiddler, statesman, and buffoon :
Then all for women, painting, rhyming, drinking,
Besides ten thousand freaks that died in thinking.
Blest madman, who could every hour employ,
With something new to wish, or to enjoy!
Railing and praising were his usual themes;
And both, to show his judgment, in extremes.
So over violent, or over civil,
That every man with him was god or devil.
In squandering wealth was his peculiar art:
Nothing went unrewarded but desert.
Absalom and Achitophel.
Thou youngest virgin-daughter of the skies,
Made in the last promotion of the blest,
Whose palms, new pluck'd from paradise,
In spreading branches more sublimely rise,
Rich with immortal green above the rest :
Whether, adopted to some neighb’ring star,
Thou roll'st above us, in thy wand'ring race,
Or, in procession fix'd and regular,
Mov’st with the heaven's majestic pace;
Or, call’d to more superior bliss,
Thou tread'st, with seraphims, the vast abyss :
Whatever happy region is thy place,
Cease thy celestial song a little space;
Thou wilt have time enough for hymns divine,
Since heaven's eternal year is thine.
Hear then a mortal muse thy praise rehearse,
In no ignoble verse;
But such as thy own voice did practise here,
When thy first-fruits of Poesy were given ;
To make thyself a welcome inmate there :
While yet a young probationer,
And candidate of heaven.
If by traduction came thy mind,
Our wonder is the less to find
A soul so charming from a stock so good ;
Thy father was transfused into thy blood :
So wert thou born into a tuneful strain,
An early, rich, and inexhausted vein.
But if thy pre-existing soul
Was form'd at first, with myriads more, It did through all the mighty poets roll,
Who Greek or Latin laurels wore; And was that Sappho last, which once it was before.
If so, then cease thy flight, О heaven-born mind! Thou hast no dross to purge from thy rich ore :
Nor can thy soul a fairer mansion find,
Than was the beauteous frame she left behind : Return to fill or mend the choir of thy celestial kind.
May we presume to say, that at thy birth
New joy was sprung in heaven, as well as here on earth?
For sure the milder planets did combine
On thy auspicious horoscope to shine,
And e'en the most malicious were in trine.
Thy brother-angels at thy birth
Strung each his lyre, and tuned it high,
That all the people of the sky
Might know a poetess was born on earth.