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O winds of Winter! list ye there
To many a deep and dying groan? Or start, ye demons of the midnight air, At shrieks and thunders louder than your own? Alas! e'en your unhallowed breath May spare the victim fallen low; But man will ask no truce to death, No bound to human wo.
Lo! where the rosy-bosom'd Hours,
Fair Venus' train, appear,
Disclose the long-expected flowers,
And wake the purple year!
The Attic warbler pours her throat,
Responsive to the cuckow's note,
The untaught harmony of Spring: While, whispering pleasure as they fly, Cool Zephyrs through the clear blue sky Their gather'd fragrance fling.
Where'er the oak's thick branches stretch
A broader, browner shade,
Where'er the rude and moss-grown beech
O'er-canopies the glade,
Beside some water's rushy brink
With me the muse shall sit, and think
(At ease reclin'd in rustic state)
How vain the ardour of the crowd,
How low, how little are the proud,
How indigent the great!
Still is the toiling hand of Care;
The panting herds repose:
Yet hark, how through the peopled air
The busy murmur glows!
The insect youth are on the wing,
Eager to taste the honey'd spring,
And float amid the liquid noon:
Some lightly o'er the current skim,
Some show their gaily gilded trim
Quick-glancing to the Sun.
To Contemplation's sober eye
Such is the race of man:
And they that creep, and they that fly,
Shall end where they began.
Alike the busy and the gay
But flatter through life's little day,
In fortune's varying colours dress'd:
Brush'd by the hand of rough Mischance,
Or chill'd by age, their airy dance
They leave, in dust to rest.
Methinks I hear, in accents low,
The sportive kind reply:
'Poor moralist! and what art thou
A solitary fly!
Thy joys no glitt'ring female meets,
No hive hast thou of hoarded sweets,
No painted plumage to display:
On hasty wings thy youth is flown;
Thy sun is set, thy spring is gone:
We frolic while 'tis May.'
WITH dalliance rude young Zephyr woos
Coy May: full oft with kind excuse
The boisterous boy the fair denies,
Or with a scornful smile complies.
Mindful of disaster past,
And shrinking at the northern blast,
The sleety storm returning still,
The morning hoar, and evening chill;
Reluctant comes the timid Spring.
Scarce a bee, with airy ring,
Murmurs the blossom'd boughs around,
That clothe the garden's southern bound:
Scarce a sickly straggling flower
Decks the rough castle's rifted tower:
Scarce the hardy primrose peeps
From the dark dell's entangled steeps;
O'er the field of waving broom
Slowly shoots the golden bloom:
And, but by fits, the furze-clad dale
Tinctures the transitory gale.
While from the shrubbery's naked maze,
Where the vegetable blaze
Of Flora's brightest 'broidery shone,
Every chequer'd charm is flown;
Save that the lilac hangs to view
Its bursting gems in clusters blue.
Scant along the ridgy land
The beans their new-born ranks expand: The fresh-turn'd soil with tender blades Thinly the sprouting barley shades:
Fringing the forest's devious edge,
Half rob'd appears the hawthorn hedge;
Or to the distant eye displays
Weakly green its budding sprays.
The swallow, for a moment seen,
Skims in haste the village green:
From the gray moor, on feeble wing;
The screaming plovers idly spring:
The butterfly, gay-painted soon,
Explores awhile the tepid noon;
And fondly trusts its tender dyes
To fickle suns, and flattering skies.
Fraught with a transient, frozen shower,
If a cloud should haply lower,
Sailing o'er the landscape dark,
Mute on a sudden is the lark;
But when gleams the Sun again
O'er the pearl-besprinkled plain,
And from behind his wat'ry vail
Looks through the thin descending hail,
She mounts, and, lessening to the sight,
Salutes the blithe return of light,
And high her tuneful track pursues
Mid the dim rainbow's scatter'd hues..
Where in venerable rows
Widely waving oaks enclose
The moat of yonder antique hall,
Swarm the rooks with clamorous call
And to the toils of nature true,
Wreathe their capacious nests anew.
Musing through the lawny park,
The lonely poet loves to mark
How various greens in faint degrees
Tinge the tall groups of various trees;
While, careless of the changing year,
The pine, cerulean, never sere,
Towers distinguish'd from the rest,
And proudly vaunts her winter vest.
Within some whispering osier isle,
Where Glym's* low banks neglected smile;
And each trim meadow still retains
The wintry torrent's oozy stains:
Beneath a willow, long forsook,
The fisher seeks his custom'd nook;
And bursting through the crackling sedge,
That crowns the current's cavern'd edge,
He startles from the bordering wood
The bashful wild-duck's early brood.
O'er the broad downs, a novel race,
Frisk the lambs with faltering pace,
And with eager bleatings fill
The foss that skirts the beacon'd hill.
His free-born vigour yet unbroke
To lordly man's usurping yoke,
The bounding colt forgets to play,
Basking beneath the noon-tide ray,
And stretch'd among the daisies pied
Of a green dingle's sloping side:
While far beneath, where Nature spreads
Her boundless length of level meads,
*The Glym is a small river in Oxfordshire, flowing through Warton's parish of Kiddington.