The Rising Village

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Thou dear companion of my early years,Partner of all my boyish hopes and fears,To whom I oft addressed the youthful strain,And sought no other praise than thine to gain;Who oft hast bid me emulate his fameWhose genius formed the glory of our name;Say, when thou canst, in manhood's ripened age,With judgment scan the more aspiring page,Wilt thou accept this tribute of my lay,By far too small thy fondness to repay?Say, dearest Brother, wilt thou now excuseThis bolder flight of my adventurous muse? If, then, adown your cheek a tear should flowFor Auburn's Village, and its speechless woe;If, while you weep, you think the ."lowly train."Their early joys can never more regain,Come, turn with me where happier prospects rise,Beneath the sternness of Acadian skies.And thou, dear spirit! whose harmonious layDidst lovely Auburn's piercing woes display,Do thou to thy fond relative impartSome portion of thy sweet poetic art;Like thine, Oh! let my verse as gently flow,While truth and virtue in my numbers glow:And guide my pen with thy bewitching hand,To paint the Rising Village of the land. How chaste and splendid are the scenes that lieBeneath the circle of Britannia's sky!What charming prospects there arrest the view,How bright, how varied, and how boundless too!Cities and plains extending far and wide,The merchant's glory, and the farmer's pride.Majestic palaces in pomp displayThe wealth and splendour of the regal sway;While the low hamlet and the shepherd's cot,In peace and freedom mark the peasant's lot.There nature's vernal bloom adorns the field,And Autumn's fruits their rich luxuriance yield.There men, in busy crowds, with men combine,That arts may flourish, and fair science shine;And thence, to distant climes their labours send,As o'er the world their widening views extend.Compar'd with scenes like these, how lone and drearDid once Acadia's woods and wilds appear;Where wandering savages, and beasts of prey,Displayed, by turns, the fury of their sway.What noble courage must their hearts have fired,How great the ardour which their souls inspired,Who leaving far behind their native plain,Have sought a home beyond the Western main;And braved the perils of the stormy seas,In search of wealth, of freedom, and of ease!Oh! none can tell but they who sadly shareThe bosom's anguish, and its wild despair,What dire distress awaits the hardy bands,That venture first on bleak and desert lands.How great the pain, the danger, and the toil,Which mark the first rude culture of the soil.When, looking round, the lonely settler seesHis home amid a wilderness of trees:How sinks his heart in those deep solitudes,Where not a voice upon his ear intrudes;Where solemn silence all the waste pervades,Heightening the horror of its gloom shades;Save where the sturdy woodman's strokes resound,That strew the fallen forest on the ground.See! from their heights the lofty pines descend,And crackling, down their pond'rous lengths extend.Soon from their boughs the curling flames arise,Mount into air, and redden all the skies;And where the forest once its foliage spread,The golden corn triumphant waves its head. How blest did nature's ruggedness appearThe only source of trouble or of fear;How happy, did no hardship meet his view,No other care his anxious steps pursue;But, while his labour gains a short repose,And hope presents a solace for his woes,New ills arise, new fears his peace annoy,And other dangers all his hopes destroy.Behold the savage tribes in wildest strain,Approach with death and terror in their train;No longer silence o'er the forest reigns,No longer stillness now her power retains;But hideous yells announce the murderous band,Whose bloody footsteps desolate the land;He hears them oft in sternest mood maintain,Their right to rule the mountain and the plain;He hears them doom the white man's instant death,Shrinks from the sentence, while he gasps for breath,Then, rousing with one effort all his might,Darts from his hut, and saves himself by flight.Yet, what refuge! Here a host of foes,On every side, his trembling steps oppose;Here savage beasts around his cottage howl,As through the gloomy wood they nightly prowl,Till morning comes, and then is heard no moreThe shouts of man, or beast's appalling roar;The wandering Indian turns another way,And brutes avoid the first approach of day. Yet, tho' these threat'ning dangers round him roll,Perplex his thoughts, and agitate his soul,By patient firmness and industrious toil,He still retains possession of the soil;Around his dwelling scattered huts extend,Whilst every hut affords another friend.And now, behold! his bold aggressors fly,To seek their prey beneath some other sky;Resign the haunts they can maintain no more,And safety in far distant wilds explore.His perils vanished, and his fears o'ercome,Sweet hope portrays a happy peaceful home.On every side fair prospects charms his eyes,And future joys in every thought arise.His humble cot, built from the neighbouring trees,Affords protection from each chilling breeze;His rising crops, with rich luxuriance crowned,In waving softness shed their freshness round;By nature nourished, by her bounty blest,He looks to Heaven, and lulls his cares to rest. The arts of culture now extend their sway,And many a charm of rural life display.Where once the pine upreared its lofty head,The settlers' humble cottages are spread;Where the broad firs once sheltered from the storm,By slow degrees a neighbourhood they form;And, as its bounds, each circling year, increaseIn social life, prosperity, and peace,New prospects rise, new objects too appear,To add more comfort to its lowly sphere.Where some rude sign or post the spot betrays,The tavern first its useful front displays.Here, oft the weary traveller at the closeOf evening, finds a snug and safe repose.The passing stranger here, a welcome guest,From all his toil enjoys a peaceful rest;Unless the host, solicitous to please,With care officious mar his hope of ease,With flippant questions to no end confined,Exhaust his patience, and perplex his mind. Yet, let no one condemn with thoughtless haste,The hardy settler of the dreary waste,Who, far removed from every busy throng,And social pleasures that to life belong,Whene'er a stranger comes within his reach,Will sigh to learn whatever he can teach.To this, must be ascribed in great degree,That ceaseless, idle curiosity,Which over all the Western world prevails,And every breast, or more or less, assails;Till, by indulgence, so o'erpowering grown,It seeks to know all business but its own.Here, oft when winter's dreary terrors reign,And cold, and snow, and storm, pervade the plain,Around the birch-wood blaze the settlers draw,."To tell of all they felt, and all they saw.."When, thus in peace are met a happy few,Sweet are the social pleasures that ensue.What lively joy each honest bosom feels,As o'er the past events his memory steals,And to the listeners paints the dire distress,That marked his progress in the wilderness;The danger, trouble, hardship, toil, and strife,Which chased each effort of his struggling life. In some lone spot of consecrated ground,Whose silence spreads a holy gloom around,The village church in unadorned array,Now lifts its turret to the opening day.How sweet to see the villagers repairIn groups to pay their adoration there;To view, in homespun dress, each sacred morn,The old and young its hallowed seats adorn,While, grateful for each blessing God has given,In pious strains, they waft their thanks to Heaven. Oh, heaven-born faith! sure solace of our woes,How lost is he who ne'er thy influence knows,How cold the heart thy charity ne'er fires,How dead the soul thy spirit ne'er inspires!When troubles vex and agitate the mind,By gracious Heaven for wisest ends designed,When dangers threaten, or when fears invade,Man flies to thee for comfort and for aid;The soul, impelled by thy all-powerful laws,Seeks safety, only, in a Great First Cause!If, then, amid the busy scene of life,Its joy and pleasure, care, distrust, and strife;Man, to his God for help and succour fly,And on his mighty power to save, rely;If, then, his thoughts can force him to confessHis errors, wants, and utter helplessness;How strong must be those feelings which impartA sense of all his weakness to the heart,Where not a friend in solitude is nigh,His home the wild, his canopy the sky;And, far removed from every human arm,His God alone can shelter him from harm. While now the Rising Village claims a name,Its limits still increase, and still its fame.The wandering Pedlar, who undaunted tracedHis lonely footsteps o'er the silent waste;Who traversed once the cold and snow-clad plain,Reckless of danger, trouble, or of pain,To find a market for his little wares,The source of all his hopes, and all his cares,Established here, his settled home maintains,And soon a merchant's higher title gains.Around his store, on spacious shelves arrayed,Behold his great and various stock in trade.Here, nails and blankets, side by side, are seen,There, horses' collars, and a large tureen;Buttons and tumblers, fish-hooks, spoons and knives,Shawls for young damsels, flannel for old wives;Woolcards and stockings, hats for men and boys,Mill-saws and fenders, silks, and children's toys;All useful things, and joined with many more,Compose the well-assorted country store. The half-bred Doctor next then settles down,And hopes the village soon will prove a town.No rival here disputes his doubtful skill,He cures, by chance, or ends each human ill;By turns he physics, or his patient bleeds,Uncertain in what case each best succeeds.And if, from friends untimely snatched away,Some beauty fall a victim to decay;If some fine youth, his parents' fond delight,Be early hurried to the shades of night,Death bears the blame, 'tis his envenomed dartThat strikes the suffering mortal to the heart. Beneath the shelter of a log-built shedThe country school-house next erects its head.No ."man severe,." with learning's bright display,Here leads the opening blossoms into day;No master here, in every art refined,Through fields of science guides the aspiring mind;But some poor wanderer of the human race,Unequal to the task, supplies his place,Whose greatest source of knowledge or of skillConsists in reading, and in writing ill;Whose efforts can no higher merit claim,Than spreading Dilworth's great scholastic fame.No modest youths surround his awful chair,His frowns to deprecate, or smiles to share,But all the terrors of his lawful swayThe proud despise, the fearless obey;The rugged urchins spurn at all control,Which cramps the movement of the free-born soul,Till, in their own conceit so wise they've grown,They think their knowledge far exceeds his own. As thus the village each successive yearPresents new prospects, and extends its sphere,While all around its smiling charms expand,And rural beauties decorate the land.The humble tenants, who were taught to know,By years of suffering, all the weight of woe;Who felt each hardship nature could endure,Such pains as time alone could ease or cure,Relieved from want, in sportive pleasures findA balm to soften and relax the mind;And now, forgetful of their former care,Enjoy each sport, and every pastime share.Beneath some spreading tree's expanded shadeHere many a manly youth and gentle maid,With festive dances or with sprightly songThe summer's evening hours in joy prolong,And as the young their simple sports renew,The aged witness, and approve them too.And when the Summer's bloomy charms are fled,When Autumn's fallen leaves around are spread,When Winter rules the sad inverted year,And ice and snow alternately appear,Sports not less welcome lightly they essay,To chase the long and tedious hours away.Here, ranged in joyous groups around the fire,Gambols and freaks each honest heart inspire;And if some venturous youth obtain a kiss,The game's reward, and summit of its bliss,Applauding shouts the victor's prize proclaim,And every tongue augments his well-earned fame;While all the modest fair one's blushes tellSuccess had crowned his fondest hope too well.Dear humble sports, Oh! long may you impartA guileless pleasure to the youthful heart,Still may your joys from year to year increase,And fill each breast with happiness and peace. Yet, tho' these simple pleasures crown the year,Relieve its cares, and every bosom cheer,As life's gay scenes in quick succession rise,To lure the heart and captivate the eyes;Soon vice steals on, in thoughtless pleasure's train,And spreads her miseries o'er the village plain.Her baneful arts some happy home invade,Some bashful lover, or some tender maid;Until, at length, repressed by no control,They sink, debase, and overwhelm the soul.How many aching breasts now live to knowThe shame, the anguish, misery and woe,That heedless passions, by no laws confined,Entail forever on the human mind.Oh, Virtue! that thy powerful charms could bindEach rising impulse of the erring mind.That every heart might own thy sovereign sway,And every bosom fear to disobey;No father's heart would then in anguish traceThe sad remembrance of a son's disgrace;No mother's tears for some dear child undoneWould then in streams of poignant sorrow run,Nor could my verse the hapless story tellOf one poor maid who loved .- and loved too well. Among the youths that graced their native plain,Albert was foremost of the village train;The hand of nature had profusely shedHer choicest blessings on his youthful head;His heart seemed generous, noble, kind, and free,Just bursting into manhood's energy.Flora was fair, and blooming as that flowerWhich spreads its blossom to the April shower;Her gentle manners and unstudied graceStill added lustre to her beaming face,While every look, by purity refined,Displayed the lovelier beauties of her mind. Sweet was the hour, and peaceful was the sceneWhen Albert first met Flora on the green;Her modest looks, in youthful bloom displayed,Then touched his heart, and there a conquest made.Nor long he sighed, by love and rapture fired,He soon declared the passion she inspired.In silence, blushing sweetly, Flora heardHis vows of love and constancy preferred;And, as his soft and tender suit he pressed,The maid, at length, a mutual flame confessed. Love now had shed, with visions light as air,His golden prospects on this happy pair:Those moments soon rolled rapidly away,Those hours of joy and bliss that gently playAround young hearts, ere yet they learn to knowLife's care or trouble, or to feel its woe.The day was fixed, the bridal dress was made,And time alone their happiness delayed,The anxious moment that, in joy begun,Would join their fond and faithful hearts in one.'Twas now at evening's hour, about the timeWhen in Acadia's cold and northern climeThe setting sun, with pale and cheerless glow,Extends his beams o'er trackless fields of snow,That Flora felt her throbbing heart oppressedBy thoughts, till then, a stranger to her breast.Albert had promised that his bosom's prideThat very morning should become his bride;Yet morn had come and passed; and not one vowOf his had e'er been broken until now.But, hark! a hurried step advances near,'Tis Albert's breaks upon her listening ear;Albert's, ah, no! a ruder footstep bore,With eager haste, a letter to the door;Flora received it, and could scarce concealHer rapture, as she kissed her lover's seal.Yet, anxious tears were gathered in her eye,As on the note it rested wistfully;Her trembling hands unclosed the folded page,That soon she hoped would every fear assuage,And while intently o'er the lines she ran,In broken half breathed tones she thus began: ."Dear Flora, I have left my native plain,And fate forbids that we shall meet again:'Twere vain to tell, nor can I now impartThe sudden motive to this change of heart.The vows so oft repeated to thine earAs tales of cruel falsehood must appear.Forgive the hand that deals this treacherous blow,Forget the heart that can afflict this woe;Farewell! and think no more of Albert's name,His weakness pity, now involved in shame.." Ah! who can paint her features as, amazed,In breathless agony, she stood and gazed!Oh, Albert, cruel Albert! she exclaimed,Albert was all her faltering accents named.A deadly feeling seized upon her frame,Her pulse throbb'd quick, her colour went and came;A darting pain shot through her frenzied head,And from that fatal hour her reason fled! The sun had set; his lingering beams of lightFrom western hills had vanished into night.The northern blasts along the valley rolled,Keen was that blast, and piercing was the cold.When, urged by frenzy, and by love inspired,For what but madness could her breast have fired!Flora, with one slight mantle round her waved,Forsook her home, and all the tempest braved.Her lover's falsehood wrung her gentle breast,His broken vows her tortured mind possessed;Heedless of danger, on she bent her wayThrough drifts of snow, where Albert's dwelling lay,With frantic haste her tottering steps pursuedAmid the long night's darkness unsubdued;Until, benumbed, her fair and fragile formYielded beneath the fury of the storm;Exhausted nature could no further go,And, senseless, down she sank amid the snow. Now as the morn had streaked the eastern skyWith dawning light, a passing stranger's eye,By chance directed, glanced upon the spotWhere lay the lovely sufferer: To his cotThe peasant bore her, and with anxious careTried every art, till hope became despair.With kind solicitude his tender wifeLong vainly strove to call her back to life;At length her gentle bosom throbs again,Her torpid limbs their wonted power obtain;The loitering current now begins to flow,And hapless Flora wakes once more to woe:But all their friendly efforts could not findA balm to heal the anguish of her mind. Come hither, wretch, and see what thou hast done,Behold the heart thou hast so falsely won,Behold it, wounded, broken, crushed and riven,By thy unmanly arts to ruin driven;Hear Flora calling on thy much loved name,Which, e'en in madness, she forbears to blame.Not all thy sighs and tears can now restoreOne hour of pleasure that she knew before;Not all thy prayers can now remove the pain,That floats and revels o'er her maddened brain.Oh, shame of manhood! that could thus betrayA maiden's hopes, and lead her heart away;Oh, shame of manhood! that could blast her joy,And one so fair, so lovely, could destroy. Yet, think not oft such tales of real woeDegrade the land, and round the village flow.Here virtue's charms appear in bright array,And all their pleasing influence display;Here modest youths, impressed in beauty's train,Or captive led by love's endearing chain,And fairest girls whom vows have ne'er betrayed,Vows that are broken oft as soon as made,Unite their hopes, and join their lives in one,In bliss pursue them, as at first begun.Then, as life's current onward gently flows,With scarce one fault to ruffle its repose,With minds prepared, they sink in peace to rest,To meet on high the spirits of the blest. While time thus rolls his rapid years away,The Village rises gently into day.How sweet it is, at first approach of morn,Before the silvery dew has left the lawn,When warning winds are sleeping yet on high,Or breathe as softly as the bosom's sigh,To gain some easy hill's ascending height,Where all the landscape brightens with delight,And boundless prospects stretched on every side,Proclaim the country's industry and pride.Here the broad marsh extends its open plain,Until its limits touch the distant main;There verdant meads along the uplands spring,And grateful odours to the breezes fling;Here crops of grain in rich luxuriance rise,And wave their golden riches to the skies;There smiling orchards interrupt the scene,Or gardens bounded by some fence of green;The farmer's cottage, bosomed 'mong the trees,Whose spreading branches shelter from the breeze;The winding stream that turns the busy mill,Whose clacking echoes o'er the distant hill;The neat white church, beside whose walls are spreadThe grass-clod hillocks of the sacred dead,Where rude cut stones or painted tables tell,In laboured verse, how youth and beauty fell;How worth and hope were hurried to the grave,And torn from those who had no power to save. Or, when the Summer's dry and sultry sunAdown the West his fiery course had run;When o'er the vale his parting rays of lightJust linger, ere they vanish into night,How sweet to wander round the wood-bound lake,Whose glassy stillness scarce the zephyrs wake;How sweet to hear the murmuring of the rill,As down it gurgles from the distant hill;When sadly slow it breaks upon the ear,And tells each night, to all the silent vale,The hopeless sorrows of its mournful tale.Dear lovely spot! Oh may such charms as these,Sweet tranquil charms, that cannot fail to please,Forever reign around thee, and impartJoy, peace, and comfort to each native heart.Is heard the stormy wind's terrific roar;Though round thee Winter binds his icy chain,And his rude tempests sweep along thy plain,Still Summer comes, and decorates thy landWith fruits and flowers from her luxuriant hand;Still Autumn's gifts repay the labourer's toilWith richest products from thy fertile soil;With bounteous store his varied wants supply,And scarce the plants of other suns deny.How pleasing, and how glowing with delightAre now thy budding hopes! How sweetly brightThey rise to view! How full of joy appearThe expectations of each future year!Not fifty Summers yet have blessed thy clime,How short a period in the page of time!Since savage tribes, with terror in their train,Rushed o'er thy fields, and ravaged all thy plain.But some few years have rolled in haste awaySince, through thy vales, the fearless beast of prey,With dismal yell and loud appalling cry,Proclaimed his midnight reign of terror nigh.And now how changed the scene! the first, afar,Have fled to wilds beneath the northern star;The last has learned to shun man's dreaded eye,And, in his turn, to distant regions fly.While the poor peasant, whose laborious careScarce from the soil could wring his scanty fare;Now in the peaceful arts of culture skilled,Sees his wide barn with ample treasures filled;Now finds his dwelling, as the year goes round,Beyond his hopes, with joy and plenty crowned. Nor culture's arts, a nation's noblest friend,Alone o'er Scotia's fields their power extend;From all her shores, with every gentle gale,Commerce expands her free and swelling sail;And all the land, luxuriant, rich, and gay,Exulting owns the splendour of their sway.These are thy blessings, Scotia, and for these,For wealth, for freedom, happiness, and ease,Thy grateful thanks to Britain's care are due,Her power protects, her smiles past hopes renew,Her valour guards thee, and her councils guide.Then, may thy parent ever be thy pride! Happy Britannia! though thy history's pageIn darkest ignorance shrouds thine infant age,Though long thy childhood's years in error strayed,And long in superstition's bands delayed;Matur'd and strong, thou shin'st in manhood's prime,The first and brightest star of Europe's clime.The nurse of science, and the seat of arts,The home of fairest forms and gentlest hearts;The land of heroes, generous, free, and brave,The noblest conquerors of the field and wave;Thy flag, on every sea and shore unfurled,Has spread thy glory, and thy thunder hurled.When, o'er the earth, a tyrant would have thrownHis iron chain, and called the world his own,Thine arm preserved it, in its darkest hour,Destroyed his hopes, and crushed his dreaded power,To sinking nations life and freedom gave,'Twas thine to conquer, as 'twas thine to save. Then blest Acadia! ever may thy name,Like hers, be graven on the rolls of fame;May all thy sons, like hers, be brave and free,Possessors of her laws and liberty;Heirs of her splendour, science, power, and skill,And through succeeding years her children still.And as the sun, with gentle dawning ray,From night's dull bosom wakes, and leads the day,His course majestic keeps, till in the heightHe glows one blaze of pure exhaustless light;So may thy years increase, thy glories rise,To be the wonder of the Western skies;And bliss and peace encircle all thy shore,Till empires rise and sink, on earth, no more.

© Oliver Goldsmith