Ode to Evening

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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 reserv'd, while now the bright-hair'd sun
 Sits in yon western tent, whose cloudy skirts,
 With brede ethereal wove,
 O'erhang his wavy bed:
 Now air is hush'd, save where the weak-ey'd 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 compos'd,
  To breathe some soften'd strain,
  Whose numbers stealing thro' thy dark'ning vale
  May not unseemly with its stillness suit,
  As musing slow, I hail
  Thy genial lov'd return!
  For when thy folding-star arising shows
  His paly circlet, at his warning lamp
  The fragrant Hours, and elves
  Who slept in flow'rs the day,
  And many a nymph who wreathes her brows with sedge,
  And sheds the fresh'ning dew, and, lovelier still,
  The pensive Pleasures sweet,
  Prepare thy shadowy car.
  Then lead, calm vot'ress, where some sheety lake
  Cheers the lone heath, or some time-hallow'd pile,
  Or upland fallows grey
  Reflect its last cool gleam.
  But when chill blust'ring winds, or driving rain,
  Forbid my willing feet, be mine the hut
  That from the mountain's side
  Views wilds, and swelling floods,
  And hamlets brown, and dim-discover'd spires,
  And hears their simple bell, and marks o'er all
  Thy dewy fingers draw
  The gradual dusky veil.
  While Spring shall pour his show'rs, as oft he wont,
  And bathe thy breathing tresses, meekest Eve;
  While Summer loves to sport
  Beneath thy ling'ring light;
  While sallow Autumn fills thy lap with leaves;
  Or Winter, yelling thro' the troublous air,
  Affrights thy shrinking train,
  And rudely rends thy robes;
  So long, sure-found beneath the sylvan shed,
  Shall Fancy, Friendship, Science, rose-lipp'd Health,
  Thy gentlest influence own,
  And hymn thy fav'rite name!

© William Taylor Collins