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Poem by James Thomson
On a Country Life
I hate the clamours of the smoky towns, But much admire the bliss of rural clowns; Where some remains of innocence appear, Where no rude noise insults the listening ear; Nought but soft zephyrs whispering through the trees, Or the still humming of the painful bees; The gentle murmurs of a purling rill, Or the unwearied chirping of the drill; The charming harmony of warbling birds, Or hollow lowings of the grazing herds; The murmuring stockdoves melancholy coo, When they their loved mates lament or woo; The pleasing bleatings of the tender lambs, Or the indistinct mum'ling of their dams; The musical discord of chiding hounds, Whereto the echoing hill or rock resounds; The rural mournful songs of lovesick swains, Whereby they soothe their raging amorous pains; The whistling music of the lagging plough, Which does the strength of drooping beasts renew. And as the country rings with pleasant sounds, So with delightful prospects it abounds: Through every season of the sliding year, Unto the ravish'd sight new scenes appear. In the sweet spring the sun's prolific ray Does painted flowers to the mild air display; Then opening buds, then tender herbs are seen, And the bare fields are all array'd in green. In ripening summer, the full laden vales Gives prospect of employment for the flails; Each breath of wind the bearded groves makes bend, Which seems the fatal sickle to portend. In Autumn, that repays the labourer's pains, Reapers sweep down the honours of the plains. Anon black Winter, from the frozen north, Its treasuries of snow and hail pours forth; Then stormy winds blow through the hazy sky, In desolation nature seems to lie; The unstain'd snow from the full clouds descends, Whose sparkling lustre open eyes offends. In maiden white the glittering fields do shine; Then bleating flocks for want of food repine, With wither'd eyes they see all snow around, And with their fore feet paw and scrape the ground: They cheerfully do crop the insipid grass, The shepherds sighing, cry, Alas! alas! Then pinching want the wildest beast does tame; Then huntsmen on the snow do trace their game; Keen frost then turns the liquid lakes to glass, Arrests the dancing rivulets as they pass. How sweet and innocent are country sports, And, as men's tempers, various are their sorts. You, on the banks of soft meandering Tweed, May in your toils ensnare the watery breed, And nicely lead the artificial flee, Which, when the nimble, watchful trout does see, He at the bearded hook will briskly spring; Then in that instant twieth your hairy string, And, when he's hook'd, you, with a constant hand, May draw him struggling to the fatal land. Then at fit seasons you may clothe your hook, With a sweet bait, dress'd by a faithless cook; The greedy pike darts to't with eager haste, And being struck, in vain he flies at last; He rages, storms, and flounces through the stream, But all, alas! his life cannot redeem. At other times you may pursue the chase, And hunt the nimble hare from place to place. See, when the dog is just upon the grip, Out at a side she'll make a handsome skip, And ere he can divert his furious course, She, far before him, scours with all her force: She'll shift, and many times run the same ground; At last, outwearied by the stronger hound, She falls a sacrifice unto his hate, And with sad piteous screams laments her fate. See how the hawk doth take his towering flight, And in his course outflies our very sight, Bears down the fluttering fowl with all his might. See how the wary gunner casts about, Watching the fittest posture when to shoot: Quick as the fatal lightning blasts the oak, He gives the springing fowl a sudden stroke; He pours upon't a shower of mortal lead, And ere the noise is heard the fowl is dead. Sometimes he spreads his hidden subtile snare, Of which the entangled fowl was not aware; Through pathless wastes he doth pursue his sport, Where nought but moor-fowl and wild beasts resort. When the noon sun directly darts his beams Upon your giddy heads, with fiery gleams, Then you may bathe yourself in cooling streams; Or to the sweet adjoining grove retire, Where trees with interwoven boughs conspire To form a grateful shade;Чthere rural swains Do tune their oaten reeds to rural strains; The silent birds sit listening on the sprays, And in soft charming notes do imitate their lays. There you may stretch yourself upon the grass, And, lull'd with music, to kind slumbers pass: No meagre cares your fancy will distract, And on that scene no tragic fears will act; Save the dear image of a charming she, Nought will the object of your vision be. Away the vicious pleasures of the town; Let empty partial fortune on me frown; But grant, ye powers, that it may be my lot To live in peace from noisy towns remote.
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