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To range the fields, and treat their lungs witn air,
Yet feel the burning instinct ; over head
Suspend their crazy boxes planted thick,
And water'd duly. There the pitcher stands 775
A fragment, and the spoutless teapot there ;
Sad witnesses how close-pent man regrets
The country, with what ardour he contrives
A peep at Nature, when he can no more.

Hail, therefore, patroness of health and ease, 780
And contemplation, heart-consoling joys,
And harmless pleasures in the throng'd abode
Of multitudes unknown ! hail, rural life'
Address himself who will to the pursuit
Of honours, or emolument, or fame ;

785 I shall not add myself to such a chase, Thwart his attempts, or envy his success. Some must be great. Great offices will have Great talents. And God gives to ev'ry man The virtue, temper, understanding, taste, 790 That lifts him into life, and lets him fall Just in the niche he was ordain'd to fill. To the deliv'rer of an injur'd land He gives a tongue t' enlarge upon, a heart To feel, and courage to redress, her wrongs;

795 To monarchs dignity; to judges sense ; To artists ingenuity and skill ; To me, an unambitious mind, content In the low vale of life, that early felt A wish for ease and leisure, and ere long

800 Found here that leisure and that ease I wish'd. VOL. II.

9

THE TASK.

BOOK V.

THE WINTER MORNING WALK.

ARGUMENT OF THE FIFTH BOOK. A frosty morning--The foddering of cattle-The woodman and

his dog-The poultry-Whimsical effects of a frost at a waterfall --The empress of Russia's palace of ice-Amusements of monarchs-War, one of them-Wars, whence-And whence monarchy -The evils of it-English and French loyalty contrasted -The Bastile, and a prisoner there-Liberty the chief recommendation of this country—Modern patriotism questionable, and why—The perishable nature of the best human institutions -Spiritual liberty not porishablo-The slavish state of man by nature-Deliver him, Deist, if you can-Grace must do it-The respective merits of patriots and martyrs stated–Their different treatment-Happy freedom of the man whom grace makes freeHis relish of the works of God-Address to the Creator.

5

'TIS morning ; and the sun, with ruddy orb
Ascending, fires th' horizon ; while the clouds
That crowd away before the driving wind,
More ardent as the disk emerges more,
Resemble most some city in a blaze,
Seen through the leafless wood. His slanting ray
Slides ineffectual down the snowy vale,
And, tinging all with his own rosy hue,
From ev'ry herb and ev'ry spiry blade
Stretches a length of shadow o'er the field.
Mine spindling into longitude immense,
In spite of gravity, and sage remark

10

That I myself am but a fleeting shade,
Provokes me to a smile. With eye askance,
I view the muscular proportion'd limb

15
Transform'd to a lean shank. The shapeless pair,
As they design'd to mock me, at my side,
Take step for step ; and, as I near approach
The cottage, walk along the plaster'd wall,
Prepost'rous sight! the legs without the man. 20
The verdure of the plain lies buried deep
Beneath the dazzling deluge ; and the bents,
And coarser grass, upspearing o'er the rest,
Of late unsightly and unseen, now shine
Conspicuous, and in bright apparel clad,

25 And, fledg'd with icy feathers, nod superb. The cattle mourn in corners, where the fence Screens them, and seem half petrified to sleep In unrecumbent sadness. Tliere they wait Their wonted fodder; not like hung'ring man, 30 Fretful if unsupplied; but silent, meek, And patient of the slow-pac'd swain's delay. He from the stack carves out the accustom'd load, Deep-plunging, and again deep-plunging oft, His broad keen knife into the solid mass ;

35 Smooth as a wall the upright remnant stands, With such undeviating and even force He severs it away; no needless care, Lest storm should overset the leaning pile Deciduous, or its own unbalanc'd weight.

40 Forth goes the woodman, leaving unconcern'd The cheerful haunts of man; to wield the axe, And drive the wedge, in yonder forest drear, From morn to eve his solitary task. Shaggy, and lean, and shrewd, with pointed ears 45 And tail cropp'd short, half lurcher and half curHis dog attends him. Close behind his heel Now creeps he slow; and now, with many a frisk Wide-scamp'ring, snatches up the drifted snow With iv'ry teeth, or ploughs it with his snout ; 50

55

Then shakes his powder'd coat, and barks for joy.
Heedless of all his pranks, the sturdy churl
Moves right toward the mark; nor stops for augbt,
But now and then with pressure of his thumb
T'adjust the fragrant charge of a short tube,
That fumes beneath his nose : the trailing cloud
Streams far behind him, scenting all the air.
Now from the roost, or from the neighb’ring pale
Where diligent to catch the first faint gleam
Of smiling day, they gossip'd side by side, 60
Come trooping at the housewife's well known call
The feather'd tribes domestick. Half on wing,
And half on foot, they brush the fleecy flood,
Conscious and fearful of too deep a plunge.
The sparrows peep, and quit the sheltring eaves, 65
To seize the fair occasion; well they eye
The scatter'd grain, and thievishly resolv'd
T'escape th' impending famine, often scar'd
As oft return--a pert voracious kind.
Clean riddance quickly made, one only care 70
Remains to each, the search of sunny nook,
Or shed impervious to the blast. Resign'd
To sad necessity, the cock foregoes
His wonted strut; and, wading at their head
With well-consider'd steps, seems to resent 75
His alter'd gait, and stateliness retrenchid.
How find the myriads, that in summer cheer
The hills and valleys with their ceaseless songs,
Due sustenance, or where subsist they now?
Earth yields them naught; th' imprison'd worm is
safe

80
Beneath the frozen clod; all seeds of herbs
Lie cover'd close ; and berry-bearing thorns,
That feed the thrush, (whatever some suppose,)
Afford the smaller minstrels no supply.
The long-protracted rigour of the year

85 Thins all their num'rous flocks. In chinks and holes Ten thousand seek an unniolested end,

As instinct prompts; self-buried ere they die.
The very rooks and daws forsake the fields,
Where neither grub, nor root, nor earth nut, now 90
Repays their labour more ; and perch'd aloft
By the way-side, or stalking in the path,
Lean pensioners upon the trav'ller's track,
Pick up their nauseous dole, though sweet to them,
Of voided pulse or half-digested grain.

95
The streams are lost amid the splendid blank,
O’erwhelming all distinction. On the flood,
Indurated and fix'd, the snowy weight
Lies undissolv'd; while silently beneath,
And unperceiv'd, the current steals away.

100 Not so where, 'scornful of a check, it leaps The mill-dam, dashes on the restless wheel, And wantons in the pebbly gulf below: No frost can bind it there : its utmost force Can but arrest the light and smoky mist,

105 That in its fall the liquid sheet throws wide. And seo where it has hung the embroider'd banks With forms so various, that no pow'rs of art, The pencil, or the pen, nay trace the scene ! Here glitt'ring turrets rise, upbearing high, 110 (Fantastick misarrangement !) on the roof Large growth of what may seem the sparkling trees And shrubs of fairy land. The crystal drops That trickled down the branches, fast congeald, Shoot into pillars of pellucid length, And prop the pile they but adorn'd before. Here grotto within grotto safe defies The sunbeam ; there, emboss'd and fretted wild, The growing wonder takes a thousand shapes Capricious, in which fancy seeks in vain The likeness of some object seen before. Thus Nature works as if to mock at Art, And in defiance of her rival pow'rs; By these fortuitous and random strokes Performing such inimitable feats,

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