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Save when her lonely minstrel wrings
The heart with sweetness, while he sings.
Who would not wish, unrivalled here,
That Spring might frolic all the year?
Three months are fled, and still she reigns,
Exulting queen o'er hills and plains;
The birds renew their nuptial vow,
Nestlings themselves are lovers now;
Fresh broods each bending bough receives,
Till feathers far outnumber leaves ;
But kites in circles swim the air,
And sadden music to despair.
The stagnant pools, the quaking bogs,
Teem, croak, and crawl with hordes of frogs :
The matted woods, the infected earth,
Are venomous with reptile birth ;
Armies of locusts cloud the skies ;
With beetles hornets, gnats with flies,
Interminable warfare wage,
And madden heaven with insect rage.
The flowers are withered ;-sun nor dew
Their fallen glories shall renew;
The flowers are withered ;-germ nor seed
Ripen in garden, wild, or mead :
The corn-fields shoot ;-their blades, alas !
Run riot in luxuriant grass.
The tainted flocks, the drooping kine,
In famine of abundance pine,
Where vegetation, sour, unsound,
And loathsome, rots and rankles round;
Nature with Nature seems at strife ;
Nothing can live but monstrous life,
By death engendered ;-food and breath
Are turned to elements of death;
And where the soil his victims strew,
Corruption quickens them anew.
But ere the year was half expired,
Spring saw her folly, and retired ;
Yoked her light chariot to a breeze,
And mounted to the Pleiades;
Content with them to rest or play
Along the calm nocturnal way;
Till heaven's remaining circuit run,
They meet the pale hybernal sun,
And gaily mingling in his blaze,
Hail the true dawn of vernal days.
THE hurricanes are fled; the rains,
That ploughed the mountains, wrecked the plains,
Have passed away before the wind,
And left a wilderness behind,
As if an ocean had been there
Exhaled, and left its channels bare.
But, with a new and sudden birth,
Nature replenishes the earth;
Plants, flowers, and shrubs, o'er all the land
So promptly rise, so thickly stand,
As if they heard a voice,--and came,
Each at the calling of its name.
The tree, by tempests stript and rent,
Expands its verdure like a tent,
Beneath whose shade, in weary length,
The enormous lion rests his strength;
For blood, in dreams of hunting, burns,
Or, chased himself, to fight returns ;
Growls in his sleep, a dreary sound,
Grinds his wedged teeth, and spurns the ground;
While monkeys, in grotesque amaze,
Down from their bending perches gaze,
But when he lifts his eye of fire,
Quick to the topmost boughs retire.
Loud o'er the mountains bleat the flocks,
The goat is bounding on the rocks ;
Far in the valleys range the herds;
The welkin gleams with flitting birds,
Whose plumes such gorgeous tints adorn,
They seem the offspring of the morn.
From nectared flowers and groves of spice
Earth breathes the air of Paradise;
Her mines their hidden wealth betray,
Treasures of darkness burst to day;
O'er golden sands the rivers glide,
And pearls and amber track the tide.
Of every sensual bliss possest,
Man riots here;-- but is he blest?
And would he choose, for ever bright,
This Summer-day without a night?
For here hath Summer fixed her throne,
Intent to reign, and reign alone,
Daily the sun, in his career,
Hotter and higher climbs the sphere,
Till from the zenith, in his rays,
Without a cloud or shadow, blaze
The realms beneath him :-in his march,
On the blue keystone of heaven's arch
He stands:--air, earth, and ocean lie
Within the presence of his eye.
The wheel of Nature seems to rest,
Nor rolls him onward to the west,
Till thrice three days of noon unchanged
That torrid clime have so deranged,
Nine years may not the wrong repair;
But Summer checks the ravage there;
Yet still enjoins the sun to steer
By the stern Dog Star round the year,
With dire extremes of day and night,
Tartarean gloom, celestial light.
In vain the gaudy season shines,
Her beauty, fades, her power declines;
Then first her bosom felt a care;
No healing breeze embalmed the air,
No mist the mountain-tops bedewed,
Nor shower the arid vale renewed ;
The herbage shrunk ;-the ploughman's toil
Scattered to dust the crumbling soil ;
Blossoms were shed; the umbrageous wood,
Laden with sapless foliage, stood ;
The streams, impoverished day by day,
Lessened insensibly away;
Where cattle sought, with piteous moans,
The vanished lymph, ʼmidst burning stones,
And tufts of withered reeds, that fill
The wonted channel of the rill;
Till, stung with hornets, mad with thirst,
In sudden rout away they burst,
Nor rest till where some channel deep
Gleams in small pools, whose waters sleep;
There with huge draught and eager eye
Drink for existence,-drink and die !
But direr evils soon arose, Hopeless, unmitigable woes; Man proves the shock; through all his veins, The frenzy of the season reigns; With pride, lust, rage, ambition blind, He burns in very fire of mind,
Which kindles from insane desire,
Or fellest hatred can inspire;
Reckless whatever ill befall,
He dares to do and suffer all
That heart can think, that arm can deal,
Or out of hell a fury feel.
There stood in that romantic clime
A mountain awfully sublime;
O’er many a league the basement spread,
It towered in many an airy head,
Height over height,-now gay, now wild,
The peak with ice eternal piled ;
Pure in mid-heaven, that crystal cone
A diadem of glory shone;
Reflecting, in the night-fallen sky,
The beams of day's departed eye;
Or holding, ere the dawn begun,
Communion with the unrisen sun.
The cultured sides were clothed with woods,
Vineyards, and fields, or tracked with floods,
Whose glacier fountains, hid on high,
Sent down their rivers from the sky.
O’er plains, that marked its gradual scale,
On sunny slope, in sheltered vale,
Earth's universal tenant,-he
Who lives wherever life may be,
Sole, social, fixed, or free to roam,
Always and everywhere at home,
Man pitched his tents, adorned his bowers,
Built temples, palaces, and towers,
And made that Alpine world his own, -
The miniature of every zone,
From brown savannahs parched below
To ridges of cerulean snow.
Those highlands formed a last retreat From rabid Summer's fatal heat ; Though not unfelt her fervours there, Vernal and cool the middle air; While from the icy pyramid Streams of unfailing freshness slid, That long had slaked the thirsty land, Till Avarice, with insatiate hand, Their currents checked ; in sunless caves, And rock-bound dells, engulfed the waves, And thence in scanty measures doled, Or turned Heaven's bounty into gold.
Ere long the dwellers on the plain
Murmured ;-their murmurs were in vain;
Petitioned,—but their prayers were spurned ;
Threatened, -defiance was returned ;
Then rang both regions with alarms;
Blood-kindling trumpets blew to arms;
The maddening drum and deafening fife
Marshalled the elements of strife:
Sternly the mountaineers maintain
Their rights against the insurgent plain :
The plain's indignant myriads rose
To wrest the mountain from their foes,
Resolved its blessings to enjoy
By dint of valour,-or destroy.
The legions met in war array;
The mountaineers brooked no delay,
Aside their missile weapons threw,
From holds impregnable withdrew, .
And, rashly brave, with sword and shield,
Rushed headlong to the open field.
Their foes the auspicious omen took,
And raised a battle-shout, that shook
The champaign ;--staunch and keen for bloo
Front threatening front, the columns stood.
But, while like thunder-clouds they frown,
In tropic haste the sun went down;
Night o'er both armies stretched her tent,
The star-bespangled firmament,
Whose placid host, revolving slow,
Smile on the impatient hordes below,
That chafe and fret the hours away,
Curse the dull gloom, and long for day,
Though destined by their own decree
No other day nor night to see.
- That night is past, that day begun,
Swift as he sunk ascends the sun,
And from the red horizon springs
Upward, as borne on eagle wings;
Aslant each army's lengthened lines,
O'er shields and helms he proudly shines,
While spears, that catch his lightnings keen,
Flash them athwart the space between.
Before the battle-shock, when breath
And pulse are still,-awaiting death;
In that cold pause, which seems to be
The prelude to eternity,