Written September, 1748.
1 ERE yellow Autumn from our plains retir'd,
2 And gave to wintry storms the varied year,
3 The Swallow-race, with foresight clear inspir'd,
4 To Southern climes prepar'd their course to steer.
5 On Damon's roof a grave assembly sate;
6 His roof, a refuge to the feather'd kind;
7 With serious look he mark'd the nice debate,
8 And to his Delia thus address'd his mind.
9 Observe yon twitt'ring flock, my gentle maid,
10 Observe, and read the wond'rous ways of heav'n!
11 With us thro' summer's genial reign they stay'd,
12 And food, and lodging to their wants were giv'n.
13 But now, thro' sacred prescience, well they know
14 The near approach of elemental strife;
15 The blustry tempest, and the chilling snow,
16 With ev'ry want, and scourge of tender life!
17 Thus taught, they meditate a speedy slight;
18 For this, ev'n now they prune their vig'rous wing;
19 For this, consult, advise, prepare, excite,
20 And prove their strength in many an airy ring.
21 No sorrow loads their breast, or swells their eye,
22 To quit their friendly haunts, or native home;
23 Nor fear they, launching on the boundless sky,
24 In search of future settlements, to roam.
25 They feel a pow'r, an impulse all divine!
26 That warns them hence; they feel it, and obey;
27 To this direction all their cares resign,
28 Unknown their destin'd stage, unmark'd their way!
29 Well fare your flight! ye mild domestic race!
30 Oh! for your wings to travel with the sun!
31 Health brace your nerves, and Zephyrs aid your pace,
32 Till your long voyage happily be done!
33 See, Delia, on my roof your guests to-day;
34 To-morrow on my roof your guests no more!
35 Ere yet 'tis night, with haste they wing away,
36 To-morrow lands them on some safer shore.
37 How just the moral in this scene convey'd!
38 And what without a moral wou'd we read?
39 Then mark what Damon tells his gentle maid,
40 And with his lesson register the deed.
41 'Tis thus life's chearful seasons roll away;
42 Thus threats the winter of inclement age;
43 Our time of action but a summer's day;
44 And earth's frail orb the sadly-varied stage!
45 And does no pow'r its friendly aid dispense,
46 Nor give us tidings of some happier clime?
47 Find we no guide in gracious Providence
48 Beyond the stroke of death, the verge of time!
49 Yes, yes, the sacred oracles we hear,
50 That point the path to realms of endless day:
51 That bid our hearts, nor death, nor anguish fear,
52 This future transport, that to life the way.
53 Then let us timely for our flight prepare,
54 And form the soul for her divine abode;
55 Obey the call, and trust the Leader's care
56 To bring us safe thro' Virtue's paths to God.
57 Let no fond love for earth exact a sigh,
58 No doubts divert our steddy steps aside;
59 Nor let us long to live, nor dread to die;
60 Heav'n is our Hope, and Providence our Guide.
Written April, 1749.
1 AT length the winter's surly blasts are o'er;
2 Array'd in smiles the lovely spring returns:
3 Health to the breeze unbars the screaming door,
4 And ev'ry breast with heat celestial burns.
5 Again the daises peep, the violets blow,
6 Again the tenants of the leafy grove
7 Forgot the patt'ring hail, the driving snow,
8 Resume the lay to melody and love.
9 And see, my Delia, see o'er yonder stream,
10 Where on the sunny bank the lambkins play,
11 Alike attracted to th' enliv'ning gleam,
12 The stranger-swallows take their wonted way.
13 Welcome, ye gentle tribe, your sports pursue,
14 Welcome again to Delia, and to me:
15 Your peaceful councils on my roof renew,
16 And plan your settlements from danger free.
17 No tempest on my shed its fury pours,
18 My frugal hearth no noxious blast supplies;
19 Go, wand'rers, go, repair your sooty bow'rs,
20 Think, on no hostile roof my chimnies rise.
21 Again I'll listen to your grave debates,
22 I'll think I hear your various maxims told,
23 Your numbers, leaders, policies, and states,
24 Your limits settled, and your tribes enroll'd.
25 I'll think I hear you tell of distant lands,
26 What insect-nations rise from Egypt's mud,
27 What painted swarms subsist on Lybia's sands,
28 What mild Euphrates yields, and Ganges' flood.
29 Thrice happy race! whom Nature's call invites
30 To travel o'er her realms with active wing,
31 To taste her choicest stores, her best delights,
32 The summer's radiance, and the sweets of spring.
33 While we are doom'd to bear the restless change
34 Of shifting seasons, vapours dank, or dry,
35 Forbid, like you, to milder climes to range,
36 When wintry clouds deform the troubled sky.
37 But know the period to your joys assign'd!
38 Know ruin hovers o'er this earthly ball;
39 Certain as fate, and sudden as the wind,
40 Its secret adamantine props shall fall.
41 Yet when your short-liv'd summers shine no more,
42 My patient mind, sworn foe to vice's way,
43 Sustain'd on lighter wings than yours shall soar
44 To fairer realms beneath a brighter ray.
45 To plains etherial, and Elysian bowers,
46 Where wintry storms no rude access obtain,
47 Where blasts no light'ning, and no thunder low'rs,
48 But spring, and joy unchang'd for ever reign.