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Virtue And Happiness In The Country
MB (1746-1767 / Scotland)

Virtue And Happiness In The Country

How blest the man who, in these peaceful plains,
Ploughs his paternal field; far from the noise,
The care, and bustle of a busy world!
All in the sacred, sweet, sequester'd vale
Of solitude, the secret primrose-path
Of rural life, he dwells; and with him dwell
Peace and content, twins of the sylvan shade,
And all the graces of the golden age.
Such is Agricola, the wise, the good;
By Nature form'd for the calm retreat,
The silent path of life. Learn'd, but not fraught
With self-importance, as the starch'd fool,
Who challenges respect by solemn face,
By studied accent, and high-sounding phrase.
Enamoured of the shade, but not morose,
Politeness, raised in courts by frigid rules,
With him spontaneous grows. Not books alone,
But man his study, and the better part;
To tread the ways of virtue, and to act
The various scenes of life with God's applause.
Deep in the bottom of the flowery vale,
Of verdant alders fenced, his dwelling stands
Complete in rural elegance. The door,
By which the poor or pilgrim never pass'd,
Still open, speaks the master's bounteous heart.
There, O how sweet! amid the fragrant shrubs,
At evening cool to sit; while, on their boughs,
The nested songsters twitter o'er their young;
And the hoarse low of folded cattle breaks
The silence, wafted o'er the sleeping lake,
Whose waters glow beneath the purple tinge
Of western cloud; while converse sweet deceives
The stealing foot of time! Or where the ground,
Mounded irregular, points out the graves
Of our forefathers, and the hallow'd fane,
Where swains assembling worship, let us walk,
In softly-soothing melancholy thought,
As night's seraphic bard, immortal Young,
Or sweet-complaining Gray; there see the goal
Of human life, where drooping, faint, and tired,
Oft miss'd the prize, the weary racer rests.

Thus sung the youth, amid unfertile wilds
And nameless deserts, unpoetic ground!
Far from his friends he stray'd, recording thus
The dear remembrance of his native fields,
To cheer the tedious night; while slow disease
Prey'd on his pining vitals, and the blasts
Of dark December shook his humble cot.

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