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An ODE to a GENTLEMAN,

On his pitching a Tent in his GARDEN.

1 AH! friend, forbear, nor fright the fields
2 With hostile scenes of imag'd war;
3 Content still roves the blooming wilds,
4 And sheds her mildest influence there:
5 Ah! drive not the sweet wand'rer from her seat,
6 Nor with rude arts profane her latest best retreat.
7 Are there not bowers, and sylvan scenes,
8 By nature's kind luxuriance wove?
9 Has Romely lost the living greens
10 Which erst adorn'd her artless grove?
11 Where thro' each hallow'd haunt the poet stray'd,
12 And met the willing Muse, and peopled every shade.
13 But now no bards thy woods among,
14 Shall wait th' inspiring Muse's call;
15 For tho' to mirth and festal song
16 Thy choice devotes the woven wall,
17 Yet what avails that all be peace within,
18 If horrors guard the gate, and scare us from the scene?
19 'Tis true of old the patriarch spread
20 His happier tents which knew not war,
21 And chang'd at will the trampled mead
22 For fresher greens and purer air;
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23 But long has man forgot such simple ways,
24 Truth unsuspecting harm! the dream of ancient days.
25 Ev'n he, cut off from human kind,
26 (Thy neighb'ring wretch) the child of Care,
27 Who to his native mines confin'd,
28 Nor sees the sun, nor breathes the air,
29 But 'midst the damps and darkness of earth's womb
30 Drags out laborious life, and scarcely dreads the tomb;
31 Ev'n he, should some indulgent chance
32 Transport him to thy sylvan reign,
33 Would eye the floating veil askance,
34 And hide him in his caves again,
35 While dire presage in every breeze that blows
36 Hears shrieks and clashing arms, and all Germania's woes.
37 And doubt not thy polluted taste
38 A sudden vengeance shall pursue;
39 Each fairy form we whilom trac'd
40 Along the morn or evening dew,
41 Nymph, Satyr, Faun, shall vindicate their grove,
42 Robb'd of its genuine charms, and hospitable Jove.
43 I see, all-arm'd with dews unblest,
44 Keen frosts, and noisome vapours drear,
45 Already, from the bleak north-east,
46 The Genius of the wood appear!
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47 Far other office once his prime delight,
48 To nurse thy saplings tall, and heal the harms of night,
49 With ringlets quaint to curl thy shade,
50 To bid the infect tribes retire,
51 To guard thy walks and not invade
52 O wherefore then provoke his ire?
53 Alas! with prayers, with tears his rage repel,
54 While yet the red'ning shoots with embryo-blossoms swell.
55 Too late thou'lt weep, when blights deform
56 The fairest produce of the year;
57 Too late thou'lt weep, when every storm
58 Shall loudly thunder in thy ear,
59 "Thus, thus the green-hair'd deities maintain
60 "Their own eternal rights, and Nature's injur'd reign. "

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    About this text

    Title (in Source Edition): An ODE to a GENTLEMAN, On his pitching a Tent in his GARDEN.
    Themes: retirement; fighting; conflict
    Genres: ode
    References: DMI 22457

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    Source edition

    A Collection of Poems in Six Volumes. By Several Hands. Vol. II. London: printed by J. Hughs, for R. and J. Dodsley, 1763 [1st ed. 1758], pp. 261-263. 6v.: music; 8⁰. (ESTC T131163; OTA K104099.002)

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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.