From brightening fields of ether fair-disclos'd,Child of the sun, refulgent Summer comes,In pride of youth, and felt through nature's depth:He comes, attended by the sultry HoursAnd ever-fanning Breezes, on his way;While, from his ardent look, the turning SpringAverts her blushful face; and earth and skies,All-smiling, to his hot dominion leaves.
Hence, let me haste into the mid-wood shade,Where scarce a sunbeam wanders through the gloomAnd on the dark-green grass, beside the brinkOf haunted stream, that by the roots of oakRolls o'er the rocky channel, lie at large,And sing the glories of the circling year.
Come, Inspiration! from thy hermit-seat,By mortal seldom found: may Fancy dare,From thy fix'd serious eye, and raptur'd glanceShot on surrounding heaven, to steal one lookCreative of the poet, every powerExalting to an ecstasy of soul.
Now swarms the village o'er the jovial mead;The rustic youth, brown with meridian toil,Healthful and strong; full as the summer-roseBlown by prevailing suns, the ruddy maid,Half-naked, swelling on the sight, and allHer kindled graces burning o'er her cheek.Even stooping age is here; and infant-handsTrail the long rake, or with the fragrant loadO'ercharg'd, amid the kind oppression roll.Wide flies the tedded grain; all in a rowAdvancing broad, or wheeling round the field,They spread the breathing harvest to the sunThat throws refreshful round a rural smell;Or, as they rake the green-appearing ground,And drive the dusky wave along the mead,The russet hay-cock rises thick behind,In order gay: while, heard from dale to dale,Waking the breeze, resounds the blended voiceOf happy labour, love, and social glee.
Or rushing thence, in one diffusive band,They drive the troubled flocks, by many a dogCompell'd, to where the mazy-running brookForms a deep pool; this bank abrupt and high,And that fair-spreading in a pebbled shore.Urg'd to the giddy brink, much is the toil,The clamour much of men, and boys, and dogs,Ere the soft, fearful people to the floodCommit their woolly sides. And oft the swain,On some impatient seizing, hurls them in:Embolden'd then, nor hesitating more,Fast, fast, they plunge amid the flashing wave,And, panting, labour to the farther shore.Repeated this, till deep the well-wash'd fleeceHas drunk the flood, and from his lively hauntThe trout is banish'd by the sordid stream;Heavy, and dripping, to the breezy browSlow move the harmless race; where, as they spreadTheir swelling treasures to the sunny ray,Inly disturb'd, and wondering what this wildOutrageous tumult means, their loud complaintsThe country fill; and, toss'd from rock to rock,Incessant bleatings run around the hills.At last, of snowy white, the gather'd flocksAre in the wattled pen innumerous press'd,Head above head; and, rang'd in lusty rows,The shepherds sit, and whet the sounding shears.The housewife waits to roll her fleecy stores,With all her gay-dress'd maids attending round.One, chief, in gracious dignity enthron'd,Shines o'er the rest, the pastoral queen, and raysHer smiles, sweet-beaming, on her shepherd-king;While the glad circle round them yield their soulsTo festive mirth, and wit that knows no gall.Meantime, their joyous task goes on apace:Some mingling stir the melted tar, and some,Deep on the new-shorn vagrant's heaving sideTo stamp his master's cipher ready stand;Others the unwilling wether drag along;And, glorying in his might, the sturdy boyHolds by the twisted horns th' indignant ram.
'Tis raging noon; and, vertical, the sunDarts on the head direct his forceful rays.O'er heaven and earth, far as the ranging eyeCan sweep, a dazzling deluge reigns; and all,From pole to pole, is undistinguish'd blaze.In vain the sight, dejected to the ground,Stoops for relief; thence hot-ascending streamsAnd keen reflection pain. Deep to the rootOf vegetation parch'd, the cleaving fieldsAnd slippery lawn an arid hue disclose,Blast fancy's blooms, and wither even the soul.Echo no more returns the cheerful soundOf sharpening scythe: the mower, sinking, heapsO'er him the humid hay, with flowers perfum'd;And scarce a chirping grasshopper is heardThrough the dumb mead. Distressful nature pants;The very streams look languid from afar;Or, through th' unshelter'd glade, impatient, seemTo hurl into the covert of the grove.
Welcome, ye shades! ye bowery thickets, hail!Ye lofty pines! ye venerable oaks!Ye ashes wild, resounding o'er the steep!Delicious in your shelter to the soul,As to the hunted hart the sallying spring,Or stream full-flowing, that his swelling sidesLaves, as he floats along the herbag'd brink.Cool, through the nerves, your pleasing comfort glides;The heart beats glad; the fresh-expanded eyeAnd ear resume their watch; the sinews knit;And life shoots swift through all the lighten'd limbs.
Around the adjoining brook that purls alongThe vocal grove, now fretting o'er a rock,Now scarcely moving through a reedy pool,Now starting to a sudden stream, and nowGently diffus'd into a limpid plain,A various group the herds and flocks compose,Rural confusion! On the grassy bankSome ruminating lie; while others standHalf in the flood, and, often bending, sipThe circling surface. In the middle droopsThe strong laborious ox, of honest front,Which, incompos'd, he shakes; and from his sidesThe troublous insects lashes with his tail,Returning still. Amid his subjects safe,Slumbers the monarch-swain; his careless armThrown round his head, on downy moss sustain'd:Here laid his scrip, with wholesome viands fill'd;There, listening every noise, his watchful dog.