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But flutter thro’ life's little day,
In Fortune's varying colours drest :
Brush'd by the hand of rough Mischanci,
Or chill'd by Age, their airy dance
They leave, in dust to rest.
Methinks I hear in accents low
The sportive kind reply:
Poor moralist ! and what art thou?
A solitary fly!
Thy joys no glittering female meets,
No hive hast thou of hoarded sweets,
No painted plumage to display :
On hasty wings thy youth is flown ;
Thy sun is set, thy spring is gone
We frolic while 'tis May.
The poplars are fell’d; farewell to the shade
And the whispering sound of the cool colonnade ;
The winds play no longer and sing in the leaves,
Nor Ouse on his bosom their image receives.
Twelve years have elapsed since I first took a view
Of my favourite field, and the bank where they grew :
And now in the grass behold they are laid,
And the tree is my seat that once lent me a shade!
The blackbird has fled to another retreat
Where the hazels afford him a screen from the heat ;
And the scene where his melody charm’d me before
Resounds with his sweet-flowing ditty no more.
My fugitive years are all hasting away,
And I must ere long lie as lowly as they,
With a turf on my breast and a stone at my head,
Ere another such grove shall arise in its stead.
The change both my heart and my fancy employs ;
I reflect on the frailty of man and his joys :
Short-lived as we are, yet our pleasures, we see,
Have a still shorter date, and die sooner than we.
TO A MOUSE
On turning her up in her nest, with the plough,
Wee, sleekit, cow'rin', tim'rous beastie,
O what a panic's in thy breastie !
Thou need na start awa sae hasty,
Wi' bickering brattle !
I wad be laith to rin an' chase thee
Wi” murdoring pattle !
I'm truly sorry man's dominion
Has broken Nature's social union,
An' justifies that ill opinion
Which makes thee startle
At me, thy poor earth-born companion,
An' fellow-mortal !
I doubt na, whiles, but thou may thieve;
What then ? poor beastie, thou maun live!
A daimen-icker in a thrave
'S a sma' request :
I'll get a blessin' wi' the lave,
And never miss't!
Thy wee bit housie, too, in ruin !
Its silly wa's the win's are strewin :
And naething, now, to big a new ane,
O' foggage green !
An' bleak December's winds ensuin'
Baith snell an' keen !
Thou saw the fields laid bare an' waste
An' weary winter comin' fast,
An' cozie here, beneath the blast,
Thou thought to dwell,
Till, crash! the cruel coulter past
Out thro' thy cell.
That wee bit heap o' leaves an' stibble
Has cost thee mony a weary nibble !
Now thou's turn'd out, for a' thy trouble,
But house or hald,
To thole the winter's sleety dribble
An' cranreuch cauld !
But, Mousie, thou art no thy lane
In proving foresight may be vain :
The best laid schemes o mice an' men
Gang aft a-gley,
An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain,
For promised joy.
Still thou art blest, compared wi' me !
The present only toucheth thee :
But, Och! I backward cast my e'e
On prospects drear !
An' forward, tho' I canna see,
Mine be a cot beside the hill ;
A bee-hive's hum shall soothe my ear ;
A willowy brook that turns a mill,
With many a fall shall linger near.
The swallow, oft, beneath my thatch
Shall twitter from her clay-built nest;
Oft shall the pilgrim lift the latch,
And share my meal, a welcome guest.
Around my ivied porch shall spring
Each fragrant flower that drinks the dew ;
And Lucy, at her wheel, shall sing
In russet-gown and apron blue.
The village-church among the trees,
Where first our marriage-vows were given,
With merry peals shall swell the breeze
And point with taper spire to Heaven.
If aught of oaten stop or pastoral song
May hope, () pensive Eve, to soothe thine ear
Like thy own solemn springs,
Thy springs, and dying gales ; () Nymph reserved, -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-eyed 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 composed,
To breathe some soften'd strain
Whose numbers, stealing through thy darkening vale,
May not unseemly with its stillness suit;
As, musing slow, I hail
Thy genial loved return.
For when thy folding-star arising shows
His paly circlet, at his warning lam;
The fragrant Hlours, and Elves
Who slept in buds the day, And many a Nymph who wreathes her brows with
sedge And sheds the freshening dew, and, lovelier still,
The pensive Pleasures sweet,
Prepare thy shadowy car.
Then let me rove some wild and heathy scene ;
Or find some ruin midst its dreary dells,
Whose walls more awful nod
By thy religious gleams.
Or, if chill blustering winds or driving rain
Prevent my willing feet, be mine the hut
That, from the mountain's side,
Views wilds, and swelling floods,
And hamlets brown, and dim-ciscover'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 showers, as oft he wont, And bathe thy breathing tresses, meckest Eve!
While Summer loves to sport
Beneath thy lingering light;
While sallow Autumn fills thy lap with leaves ;
Or Winter, yelling through the troullous air,
Affrights thy shrinking train
And rudely rends thy robes;
So long, regardful of thy quiet rule,
Shall Fancy, Friendship, Science, smiling Peace,
Thy gentlest influence own,
And love thy favourite name!