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WILLIAM COLLINS

1721-1759

469                                           Ode to Simplicity

   O THOU, by Nature taught
   To breathe her genuine thought
In numbers warmly pure and sweetly strong:
   Who first on mountains wild,
   In Fancy, loveliest child,
Thy babe and Pleasures, nursed the powrs of song!
   Thou, who with hermit heart
   Disdainst the wealth of art,
And gauds, and pageant weeds, and trailing pall:
   But comst a decent maid,
   In Attic robe arrayd,
O chaste, unboastful nymph, to thee I call!
   By all the honeyd store
   On Hyblas thymy shore,
By all her blooms and mingled murmurs dear,
   By her whose love-lorn woe,
   In evening musings slow,
Soothed sweetly sad Electras poets ear:
   By old Cephisus deep,
   Who spread his wavy sweep
In warbled wandrings round thy green retreat;
   On whose enamelld side,
   When holy Freedom died,
No equal haunt allured thy future feet!
   O sister meek of Truth,
   To my admiring youth
Thy sober aid and native charms infuse!
   The flowrs that sweetest breathe,
   Though beauty culld the wreath,
Still ask thy hand to range their orderd hues.
   While Rome could none esteem,
   But virtues patriot theme,
You loved her hills, and led her laureate band;
   But stayd to sing alone
   To one distinguishd throne,
And turnd thy face, and fled her alterd land.
   No more, in hall or bowr,
   The passions own thy powr.
Love, only Love her forceless numbers mean;
   For thou hast left her shrine,
   Nor olive more, nor vine,
Shall gain thy feet to bless the servile scene.
   Though taste, though genius bless
   To some divine excess,
Faints the cold work till thou inspire the whole;
   What each, what all supply,
   May court, may charm our eye,
Thou, only thou, canst raise the meeting soul!
   Of these let others ask,
   To aid some mighty task,
I only seek to find thy temperate vale;
   Where oft my reed might sound
   To maids and shepherds round,
And all thy sons, O Nature, learn my tale.

470                                     How sleep the Brave

HOW sleep the brave, who sink to rest
By all their countrys wishes blest!
When Spring, with dewy fingers cold,
Returns to deck their hallowd mould,
She there shall dress a sweeter sod
Than Fancys feet have ever trod.
By fairy hands their knell is rung;
By forms unseen their dirge is sung;
There Honour comes, a pilgrim grey,
To bless the turf that wraps their clay;
And Freedom shall awhile repair
To dwell, a weeping hermit, there!

471                                       Ode to Evening

IF aught of oaten stop, or pastoral song,
May hope, chaste Eve, to soothe thy modest ear,
     Like thy own solemn springs,
     Thy springs and dying gales;
O nymph reserved, while now the bright-haird sun
Sits in yon western tent, whose cloudy skirts,
     With brede etheral wove,
     Oerhang his wavy bed:
Now air is hushd save where the weak-eyed bat
With short shrill shriek flits by on leathern wing,
     Or where the beetle winds
     His small but sullen horn,
As oft he rises, midst the twilight path
Against the pilgrim borne in heedless hum:
     Now teach me, maid composed,
     To breathe some softend strain,
Whose numbers, stealing through thy darkening vale,
May not unseemly with its stillness suit,
     As, musing slow, I hail
     Thy genial loved return!
For when thy folding-star arising shows
His paly circlet, at his warning lamp
     The fragrant hours, and elves
     Who slept in buds the day,
And many a nymph who wreathes her brows with sedge,
And sheds the freshening dew, and, lovelier still,
     The pensive pleasures sweet,
     Prepare thy shadowy car:
Then lead, calm votaress, where some sheety lake
Cheers the lone heath, or some time-hallowd pile,
     Or upland fallows grey
     Reflect its last cool gleam.
Or if chill blustering winds, or driving rain,
Prevent my willing feet, be mine the hut
     That from the mountains side
     Views wilds and swelling floods,
And hamlets brown, and dim-discoverd spires,
And hears their simple bell, and marks oer all
     Thy dewy fingers draw
     The gradual dusky veil.
While Spring shall pour his showrs, as oft he wont,
And bathe thy breathing tresses, meekest Eve!
     While Summer loves to sport
     Beneath thy lingering light;
While sallow Autumn fills thy lap with leaves,
Or Winter, yelling through the troublous air,
     Affrights thy shrinking train,
     And rudely rends thy robes:
So long, regardful of thy quiet rule,
Shall Fancy, Friendship, Science, rose-lippd Health
     Thy gentlest influence own,
     And hymn thy favourite name!

472                                            Fidele

TO fair Fideles grassy tomb
   Soft maids and village hinds shall bring
Each opening sweet of earliest bloom,
     And rifle all the breathing Spring.
No wailing ghost shall dare appear
   To vex with shrieks this quiet grove;
But shepherd lads assemble here,
   And melting virgins own their love.
No witherd witch shall here be seen,
   No goblins lead their nightly crew;
The female fays shall haunt the green,
   And dress thy grave with pearly dew.
The redbreast oft at evening hours
   Shall kindly lend his little aid,
With hoary moss, and gatherd flowers,
   To deck the ground where thou art laid.
When howling winds, and beating rain,
   In tempests shake thy sylvan cell;
Ormidst the chase, on every plain,
   The tender thought on thee shall dwell;

Each lonely scene shall thee restore,
   For thee the tear be duly shed;
Beloved, till life can charm no more;
   And mournd, till Pitys self be dead.

 

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