1 HAPPY thrice the harmless swain,
2 Tenant of the peaceful plain,
3 Far from business, noise and strife,
4 Blest with every sweet of life;
5 Far from all the toil of state,
6 All oppressions of the great;
7 Dancing blythe his Nymph he leads
8 O'er the carpet of the meads;
9 While his neighbour's pipe or horn
10 Lulls the night or cheers the morn:
11 Healthy joy from labour springs,
12 Healthy joy the wish of kings.
13 Here Providence in bounty flows,
14 And joys on every sense bestows;
15 Here Earth affords her kind increase,
16 With virtue gain'd, enjoy'd in peace;
17 The harvest rich, the fruitage fair,
18 Repay the cultivator's care.
19 Hills where sportive lambkins stray,
20 Flocks that fleecy tribute pay;[Page 263]
21 Crystal streams whose murmuring rills
22 Stray between the flowery hills,
23 Meeting from a hundred dells,
24 Till the foaming river swells,
25 Swells beyond restraint, and laves
26 Happy lands with welcome waves;
27 While the crystal of the floods
28 Mocks the waving of the woods.
29 Here flowers in sweet confusion strown,
30 O'er the verdant mead are blown;
31 Narcissus, near the rivers fair,
32 Smiles at itself reflected there;
33 Sad emblem of that lover's pride,
34 Who for himself too fondly died.
35 The crowfoot here with golden hue,
36 The cowslips sweet, the violets blue,
37 The blushing pinks, and lilies pale,
38 Like virgins fair, like virgins frail;
39 Soft daffodils of early bloom,
40 And daisies earful of the gloom.
41 But ah, those beauties soon must fall!
42 The ruthless scythe which levels all,
43 Must sweep their harmless sweets away,
44 And give their colours to decay.
45 Here lofty groves invade the sky,
46 And all the tempest's rage defy;
47 The solid oak that awes the main,
48 The spreading elm of coarser grain.[Page 264]
49 The elastic eugh, whose distant wound
50 With England's rivals heap'd the ground;
51 The stubborn holly, rough and bold,
52 That spreads her verdure to the cold,
53 And boasts her berries fair and ripe,
54 Beneath December's icy gripe;
55 All, all Destruction's power shall feel,
56 And fall before the fatal steel.
57 See this, ye fair, ye wise, ye brave,
58 And sink together in the grave.
59 The squirrel climbs the nut-tree bough,
60 And strips the clusters as they grow;
61 The little mouse with humbler hope
62 Tastes Nature's bounties as they drop.
63 See all the feather'd warblers sing,
64 To welcome the returning spring;
65 The blackbird, linnet, finch, and thrush,
66 Pour out their songs from every bush;
67 The tuneful lark, whose towering flight
68 Fatigues the disappointed sight;
69 These little songsters mounted high,
70 Harmonious carrol to the sky:
71 To heaven their tuneful offering pay,
72 And seem to hail the new-born day!
73 Sweet bird! instructed by thy lays,
74 Can man forget his Maker's praise?
75 Reviving from the shades of night,
76 Can he behold the all-quickening light,[Page 265]
77 Can he unclose his fluggish eyes,
78 Nor send one rapture to the skies?
79 At eve, in softly mournful strains,
80 The love-lorn nightingale complains;
81 While as it strains its little throat,
82 Pleas'd Echo dwells on every note,
83 And sighs to hear the plaintive moan,
84 And grief expressive of her own.
85 How blest, my soul, how blest are those
86 Who pass a life in such repose;
87 Who still in rural shades abide,
88 Where all their hours thus smoothly glide;
89 Whose humble aims no higher tend,
90 Than to enjoy a book and friend;
91 Whom anxious projects ne'er molest,
92 Nor war nor love disturb their rest;
93 Who form no wish of rising higher,
94 But learn betimes to check desire;
95 Whose happy and yet humble state
96 Provokes no threatening frowns of Fate:
97 So humble shrubs in safety grow,
98 When storms the lofty pine o'erthrow.
99 O hear, ye Powers, a suppliant's voice,
100 Indulge my wish, approve my choice!
101 O grant me, wheresoe'er ye please,
102 A life of privacy and ease;
103 No more those pleasures to pursue,
104 Which Fancy paints to Folly's view;[Page 266]
105 Nor falsly fond, nor idly gay,
106 To waste the fashionable day;
107 No more with craving heart to go
108 From toy to toy, from show to show;
109 All day to counterfeit delight,
110 And long, to end the cheat, for night.
111 Afford me pleasures more serene:
112 Give me to range the sylvan scene,
113 Where Ceres' full-ear'd sheaves abound,
114 And Flora paints th' enamel'd ground;
115 To feel, from every pressure free,
116 The joys of Truth and Poetry;
117 Let Contemplation string my lyre,
118 And Zeal supply poetic fire;
119 Then let me Nature's wonders sing,
120 And praise the power of Nature's King:
121 While as by chance I turn my sight,
122 New objects strike with new delight;
123 Till fresh ideas hourly spring,
124 And urge Imagination's wing.
125 Here Knowledge, quicken'd by Delight,
126 Shall rouse the soul to vigorous flight:
127 Rapt with the thought, methinks I rise
128 To meditate my kindred skies;
129 At once the past and present view,
130 Compare the former with the new;
131 Survey the world from pole to pole,
132 Join clime to clime, and grasp the whole;[Page 267]
133 To each effect the cause conjoin,
134 And trace the Original divine;
135 Awaken'd Hope directs my way
136 Thro' all the spacious realms of day;
137 Views the resplendent courts above,
138 Blest mansion of seraphic love!
139 Refulgent throne of power divine,
140 Where calm celestial splendors shine;
141 Whence beams of emanating light
142 From Nature chase retiring night.
143 Quick to my breast new beauties rise,
144 I pant to range my native skies;
145 But here, encumber'd with her clay,
146 My Soul must wait the final day;
147 And now but short excursions make,
148 And joys thro' long perspectives take;
149 Such joys as virtuous souls improve,
150 And heighten wonder into love.
151 Then fill'd with reverence and delight,
152 Back to the world I take my flight;
153 Back to my much lov'd groves again,
154 Where honest joys alternate reign;
155 Where thro' Creation's mighty round,
156 Unnumber'd miracles abound,
157 And, form'd instruction to convey,
158 The Almighty Father's power display;
159 Amaz'd I view the splendid dye
160 Of this enamel'd butterfly;[Page 268]
161 Amaz'd each reptile insect see,
162 Each blest with life as well as we.
163 Wherever we direct our eyes,
164 Ten thousand various forms arise;
165 On each a life of different mode
166 By boundless Providence bestow'd;
167 From small to less, from high to higher,
168 Till Reason, Sense, and Fancy tire;
169 While all in due proportion shine,
170 To prove the economy divine.
171 With serious joy the enlighten'd soul
172 Surveys a part, admires the whole;
173 Nor always silently surveys,
174 But, fir'd by gratitude to praise,
175 In holy confidence is blest,
176 And calmly waits eternal rest.
About this text
Title (in Source Edition): THE EXCURSION.
Themes: retirement; happiness; contentment
References: DMI 32601
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The text has been typographically modernized, but without any silent modernization of spelling, capitalization, or punctuation. The source of the text is given and all editorial interventions have been recorded in textual notes. Based on the electronic text originally produced by the ECCO-TCP project, this ECPA text has been edited to conform to the recommendations found in Level 5 of the Best Practices for TEI in Libraries version 3.0.