Written at the CONVENT of HAUT VILLERS in CHAMPAGNE, 1754.
1 SILENT and clear, thro' yonder peaceful vale,
2 While Marne's slow waters weave their mazy way,
3 See, to th' exulting sun, and fost'ring gale,
4 What boundless treasures his rich banks display!
5 Fast by the stream, and at the mountain's base,
6 The lowing herds thro' living pastures rove;
7 Wide-waving harvests crown the rising space;
8 And still superior nods the viny grove.
9 High on the top, as guardian of the scene,
10 Imperial Sylvan spreads his umbrage wide;
11 Nor wants there many a cot, and spire between,
12 Or in the vale, or on the mountain's side,
13 To mark that Man, as tenant of the whole,
14 Claims the just tribute of his culturing care,
15 Yet pays to Heaven, in gratitude of soul,
16 The boon which Heaven accepts, of praise and prayer.
17 O dire effects of war! the time has been
18 When Desolation vaunted here her reign;
19 One ravag'd desart was yon beauteous scene,
20 And Marne ran purple to the frighted Seine.
21 Oft at his work the toilsome day to cheat
22 The swain still talks of those disastrous times,
23 When Guise's pride, and Condé's ill-star'd heat
24 Taught christian zeal to authorize their crimes:
25 Oft to his children sportive on the grass
26 Does dreadful tales of worn Tradition tell,
27 Oft points to Epernay's ill-fated pass
28 Where Force thrice triumph'd, and where Biron fell.
29 O dire effects of war! — may ever more
30 Thro' this sweet vale the voice of discord cease!
31 A British bard to Gallia's fertile shore
32 Can wish the blessings of eternal peace.
33 Yet say, ye monks, (beneath whose moss-grown seat,
34 Within whose cloister'd cells th' indebted Muse
35 Awhile sojourns, for meditation meet,
36 And these loose thoughts in pensive strain pursues,)
37 Avails it aught, that War's rude tumult spare
38 Yon cluster'd vineyard, or yon golden field,
39 If niggards to yourselves, and fond of care,
40 You slight the joys their copious treasures yield?
41 Avails it aught that Nature's liberal hand
42 With every blessing grateful man can know
43 Cloaths the rich bosom of yon smiling land,
44 The mountain's sloping side, or pendant brow,
45 If meagre Famine paint your pallid cheek,
46 If breaks the midnight bell your hours of rest,
47 If 'midst heart-chilling damps, and winter bleak,
48 You shun the cheerful bowl, and moderate feast!
49 Look forth, and be convinc'd! 'tis Nature pleads,
50 Her ample volume opens on your view,
51 The simple-minded swain, who running reads,
52 Feels the glad truth, and is it hid from you?
53 Look forth, and be convinc'd. Yon prospects wide
54 To Reason's ear how forcibly they speak,
55 Compar'd with those how dull is letter'd Pride,
56 And Austin's babbling Eloquence how weak!
57 Temp'rance, not Abstinence, in every bliss
58 Is Man's true joy, and therefore Heaven's command.
59 The wretch who riots thanks his God amiss:
60 Who starves, rejects the bounties of his hand.
61 Mark, while the Marne in yon full channel glides,
62 How smooth his course, how Nature smiles around!
63 But should impetuous torrents swell his tides,
64 The fairy landskip sinks in oceans drown'd.
65 Nor less disastrous should his thrifty urn
66 Neglected leave the once well-water'd land,
67 To dreary wastes yon paradise would turn,
68 Polluted ooze, or heaps of barren sand.
About this text
Title (in Source Edition): ELEGY I. Written at the CONVENT of HAUT VILLERS in CHAMPAGNE, 1754.
Author: William Whitehead
Themes: hopelessness; vanity of life; other countries; nature
Genres: heroic couplet; elegy
References: DMI 27811
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