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Broader and broader yet, their blooms display, Salute the welcome sun, and entertain the day. Then from their breathing souls the sweets repair To scent the skies, and purge the unwholesome air. Joy spreads the heart, and, with a general song, Spring issues out, and leads the jolly months along.
In that sweet season, as in bed I lay, And sought in sleep to pass the night away, I turn'd my weary* side, but still in vain, Though full of youthful health, and void of pain. Cares I had none, to keep me from my rest, For love had never enter'd in my breast; I wanted nothing fortune could supply, Nor did she slumber till that hour deny. I wonder'd then, but after found it true, Much joy had dried away the balmy dew: Seas would be pools, without the brushing air, To curl the waves; and sure some little care Should weary nature so, to make her want repair. When Chanticleer the second watch had
sung, Scorning the scorner sleep, from bed I sprung; And dressing, by the moon, in loose array, Pass'd out in open air, preventing day, And sought a goodly grove, as fancy led my way. Straight as a line in beauteous order stood Of oaks unshorn, a venerable wood; Fresh was the grass beneath, and every tree, At distance planted in a due degree, Their branching arms in air with equal space Stretch'd to their neighbours with a long embrace : And the new leaves on every bough were seen, Some ruddy-colourd, some of lighter green. The painted birds, companions of the spring, Hopping from spray to spray, were heard to sing. Both eyes and ears received a like delight, Enchanting music, and a charming sight.
On Philomel I fix'd my whole desire,
And listen'd for the queen of all the quire;
Fain would I hear her heavenly voice to sing,
And wanted yet an omen to the spring.
Attending long in vain, I took the way,
Which through a path, but scarcely printed, lay;
In narrow mazes oft it seem'd to meet,
And look'd as lightly press'd by fairy feet.
Wand'ring I walk'd alone, for still methought
To some strange end so strange a path was wrought:
At last it led me where an arbour stood,
The sacred receptacle of the wood;
This place unmark'd, though oft I walk'd the green,
In all my progress I had never seen;
And seized at once with wonder and delight,
Gazed all around me, new to the transporting sight.
"Twas bench'd with turf, and, goodly to be seen,
The thick young grass arose in fresher green:
The mound was newly made, no sight could pass
Betwixt the nice partitions of the grass ;
The well-united sods so closely lay,
And all around the shades defended it from day;
For sycamores with eglantine were spread,
A hedge about the sides, a covering over head.
And so the fragrant brier was wove between,
The sycamore and flowers were mix'd with green,
That nature seem'd to vary the delight,
And satisfied at once the smell and sight.
The master workman of the bower was known
Through fairy-lands, and built for Oberon;
Who twining leaves with such proportion drew,
They rose by measure, and by rule they grew;
No mortal tongue can half the beauty telì,
For none but hands divine could work so well.
Both roof and sides were like a parlour made
A soft recess, and a cool summer shade ;
The hedge was set so thick, no foreign eye
The persons placed within it could espy;
But all that pass'd without with ease was seen,
As if nor fence nor tree was placed between.
'Twas border'd with a field ; and some was plain
With grass, and some was sow'd with rising grain,
That (now the dew with spangles deck'd the ground)
A sweeter spot of earth was never found.
I look'd and look'd, and still with new delight;
Such joy my soul, such pleasures fill'd my sight;
And the fresh eglantine exhaled a breath,
Whose odours were of power to raise from death.
Nor sullen discontent, nor anxious căre,
Even though brought thither, could inhabit there:
But thence they fled as from their mortal foe;
For this sweet place could only pleasure know.
Thus as I mused, I cast aside my eye,
And saw a mędlar-tree was planted nigh.
The spreading branches made a goodly show,
And full of opening blooms was every bough:
A goldfinch there I saw with gaudy pride
Of painted plumes, that hopp'd from side to side,
Still pecking as she pass'd ; and still she drew
The sweets from every flower, and suck'd the dew.
Sufficed at length, she warbled in her throat,
And tuned her voice to many a merry note,
But indistinct, and neither sweet nor clear,
Yet such as sooth'd my soul, and pleased my ear.
Her short performance was no sooner tried, When she I sought, the nightingale, replied: So sweet, so shrill, so variously she sung, That the grove echo'd, and the valleys rung; And I so ravish'd with her heavenly note, I stood entranced, and had no room for thought, But all o'er-power'd with ecstasy of bliss, Was in a pleasing dream of paradise ;
At length I waked, and, looking round the bower,
Search'd every tree, and pry'd on every flower,
If any where by chance I might espy
The rural poet of the melody ;
For still methought she sung not far away :
At last I found her on a laurel spray,
Close by my side she sate, and fair in sight,
Full in a line, against her opposite;
Where stood with eglantine the laurel twined,
And both their native sweets were well conjoin'd.
On the green bank I sat, and listen'd long;
(Sitting was more convenient for the song :)
Nor till her lay was ended could I move,
But wish'd to dwell for ever in the grove.
Only methought the time too swiftly passid,
And every note I fear'd would be the last.
My sight, and smell, and hearing, were employ'd,
And all three senses in full gust enjoy'd.
And what alone did all the rest surpass,
The sweet possession of the fairy place;
Single and conscious to myself alone
Of pleasures to the excluded world unknown;
Pleasures which no where else were to be found,
And all Elysium in a spot of ground.
Thus while I sat intent to see and hear,
And drew perfumes of more than vital air,
All suddenly I heard the approaching sound
Of vocal music, on the enchanted ground:
An host of saints it seem'd, so full the quire ;
As if the bless'd above did all conspire
To join their voices, and neglect the lyre.
At length there issued from the grove
A fair assembly of the female kind :
A train less fair, as ancient fathers tell,
Seduced the sons of heaven to rebel.
I pass their forms, and every charming grace ;
Less than an angel would their worth debase :
But their attire, like liveries of a kind, All rich and rare, is fresh within my mind. • In velvet white as snow the troop was gown'd, The seams with sparkling emeralds set around : Their hoods and sleeves the same; and purfled o'er With diamonds, pearls, and all the shining store Of eastern pomp; their long-descending train With rubies edged, and sapphires, swept the plain. High on their heads, with jewels richly set, Each lady wore a radiant coronet. Beneath the circles, all the quire was graced With chaplets green on their fair foreheads placed ; Of laurel some, of woodbine many more, And wreaths of Agnus castus others bore : These last, who with those virgin crowns were
dress'd, Appear'd in higher honour than the rest. They danced around; but in the midst was seen A lady of a more majestic mien; By stature, and by beauty, mark'd their sovereign
queen. She in the midst began with sober grace ; Her servants' eyes were fix'd upon her face, And as she moved or turn'd, her motions' view'd, Her measures kept, and step by step pursued. Methought she trod the ground with greater grace, With more of godhead shining in her face ; And as in beauty she surpass'd the quire, So, nobler than the rest was her attire. A crown of ruddy gold inclosed her brow, Plain without pomp, and rich without a show: A branch of Agnus castus in her hand She bore aloft (her sceptre of command ;) Admired, adored by all the circling crowd, For wheresoe'er she turn'd her face, they bow'd. And as she danced, a roundelay she sung, In honour of the laurel, ever young.