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Ye who amid this feverish world would wear A body free of pain, of cares a mind; Fly the rank city, shun its turbid air; Breathe not the chaos of eternal smoke And volatile corruption, from the dead, The dying, sick'ning, and the living world Exhal'd, to sully Heaven's transparent dome With dim mortality. It is not air That from a thousand lungs reeks back to thine, Sated with exhalations rank and fell, The spoil of dunghills, and the putrid thaw Of nature; when from shape and texture she Relapses into fighting elements:
It is not air, but floats a nauseous mass
Of all obscene, corrupt, offensive things.
Much moisture hurts; but here a sordid bath,
With oily rancor fraught, relaxes more
The solid frame than simple moisture can.
Besides, immur'd in many a sullen bay
That never felt the freshness of the breeze,
This slumb'ring deep remains, and ranker grows
With sickly rest: and (though the lungs abhor
To drink the dun fuliginous abyss)
Did not the acid vigor of the mine,
Roll'd from so many thundering chimneys, tame
The putrid steams that overswarm the sky;
This caustic venom would perhaps corrode
Those tender cells that draw the vital air,
In vain with all the unctuous rills bedew'd;
Or by the drunken venous tubes, that yawn
In countless pores o'er all the pervious skin
Imbib'd, would poison the balsamic blood,
And rouse the heart to every fever's rage.
While yet you breathe, away; the rural wilds
Invite; the mountains call you, and the vales;
The woods, the streams, and each ambrosial breeze
That fans the ever-undulating sky;
A kindly sky! whose fost'ring power regales
Man, beast, and all the vegetable reign.
Find then some woodland scene where Nature smiles
Benign, where all her honest children thrive.
To us there wants not many a happy seat!
Look round the smiling land, such numbers rise
We hardly fix, bewilder'd in our choice.
See where, enthron'd in adamantine state,
Proud of her bards, imperial Windsor sits;
Where choose thy seat, in some aspiring grove
Fast by the slowly-winding Thames; or where
Broader she laves fair Richmond's green retreats,
(Richmond, that sees an hundred villas rise
Rural or gay.) O! from the summer's rage,
O! wrap me in the friendly gloom that hides
Umbrageous Ham!-But if the busy town
Attract thee still to toil for power or gold,
Sweetly thou may'st thy vacant hours possess
In Hampstead, courted by the western wind;
Or Greenwich, waving o'er the winding flood;
Or lose the world amid the sylvan wilds
Of Dulwich, yet by barbarous arts unspoil'd.
Green rise the Kentish hills in cheerful air;
But on the marshy plains that Lincoln spreads
Build not, nor rest too long thy wandering feet.
For on a rustic throne of dewy turf,
With baneful fogs her aching temples bound,
Quartana there presides; a meagre fiend
Begot by Eurus, when his brutal force
Compress'd the slothful Naiad of the fens.
From such a mixture sprung, this fitful pest
With fev'rish blasts subdues the sick'ning land:
Cold tremors come, with mighty love of rest,
Convulsive yawnings, lassitude, and pains
That sting the burden'd brows, fatigue the loins,
And rack the joints, and every torpid limb;
Then parching heat succeeds, till copious sweats
O'erflow: a short relief from former ills
Beneath repeated shocks the wretches pine,
The vigor sinks, the habit melts away:
The cheerful, pure, and animated bloom
Dies from the face, with squalid atrophy
Devour'd, in sallow melancholy clad.
And oft the sorceress, in her sated wrath,
Resigns them to the furies of her train:
The bloated Hydrops, and the yellow Fiend
Ting'd with her own accumulated gall.
In quest of sites, avoid the mournful plain
Where osiers thrive, and trees that love the lake,
Where many lazy muddy rivers flow:
Nor for the wealth that all the Indies roll,
Fix near the marshy margin of the main.
For from the humid soil and wat'ry reign
Eternal vapors rise; the spongy air
For ever weeps: or, turgid with the weight
Of waters, pours a sounding deluge down.
Skies such as these let every mortal shun
Who dreads the dropsy, palsy, or the gout,
Tertian, corrosive scurvy, or moist catarrh ;
Or any other injury that grows
From raw-spun fibres idle and unstrung,
Skin ill-perspiring, and the purple flood
In languid eddies loitering into phlegm.
Yet not alone from humid skies we pine;
For air may be too dry. The subtle Heaven,
That winnows into dust the blasted downs,
Bare and extended wide without a stream,
Too fast imbibes th' attenuated lymph,
Which, by the surface, from the blood exhales.
The lungs grow rigid, and with toil essay
Their flexible vibrations! or inflam'd,
Their tender ever-moving structure thaws.
Spoil'd of its limpid vehicle, the blood
A mass of lees remains, a drossy tide
That slow as Lethe wanders through the veins
Unactive in the services of life,
Unfit to lead its pitchy current through
The secret mazy channels of the brain.
The melancholic fiend (that worst despair
Of physic) hence the rust-complexion'd man
Pursues, whose blood is dry, whose fibres gain
Too stretch'd a tone; and hence in climes adust
So sudden tumults seize the trembling nerves,
And burning fevers glow with double rage.
Fly, if you can, these violent extremes Of air; the wholesome is nor moist nor dry. But as the power of choosing is denied To half mankind, a further task ensues; How best to mitigate these fell extremes, How breathe unhurt the withering element, Or hazy atmosphere; though custom moulds To every clime the soft Promethean clay; And he who first the fogs of Essex breath'd (So kind is native air) may in the fens Of Essex from inveterate ills revive, At pure Montpelier or Bermuda caught. But if the raw and oozy Heaven offend; Correct the soil, and dry the sources up Of wat'ry exhalation: wide and deep Conduct your trenches through the quaking bog; Solicitous, with all your winding arts, Betray the unwilling lake into the stream; And weed the forest, and invoke the winds
To break the toils where strangled vapors lie;
Or through the thickets send the crackling flames.
Meantime at home with cheerful fires dispel
The humid air: and let your table smoke
With solid roast or bak'd; or what the herds
Of tamer breed supply; or what the wilds
Yield to the toilsome pleasures of the chase.
Generous your wine, the boast of ripening years;
But frugal be your cups: the languid frame,
Vapid and sunk from yesterday's debauch,
Shrinks from the cold embrace of wat'ry Heavens.
But neither these, nor all Apollo's arts,
Meantime, the moist malignity to shun
Of burthen'd skies; mark where the dry champaigu
Swells into cheerful hills; where marjoram
And thyme, the love of bees, perfume the air;
And where the cynorrhodon* with the rose
For fragrance vies; for in the thirsty soil
Most fragrant breathe the aromatic tribes.
There bid thy roofs high on the basking steep
Ascend, there light thy hospitable fires,
And let them see the winter morn arise,
The summer evening blushing in the West:
While with umbrageous oaks the ridge behind
O'erhung, defends you from the blust'ring North,
And bleak affliction of the peevish East.
Disarm the dangers of the dropping sky,
Unless with exercise and manly toil
You brace your nerves, and spur the lagging blood. Oh! when the growling winds contend, and all
The sounding forest fluctuates in the storm;
To sink in warm repose, and hear the din
Howl o'er the steady battlements, delights
Above the luxury of vulgar sleep.
The murmuring rivulet, and the hoarser strain
Of waters rushing o'er the slippery rocks,
|Will nightly lull you to ambrosial rest.
To please the fancy is no trifling good,
Where health is studied; for whatever moves
The fatt'ning clime let all the sons of ease
Avoid; if indolence would wish to live,
Go, yawn and loiter out the long slow year
In fairer skies. If droughty regions parch
The skin and lungs, and bake the thick'ning blood;
Deep in the waving forest choose your seat,
Where fuming trees refresh the thirsty air;
And wake the fountains from their secret beds,
And into lakes dilate their rapid stream.
Here spread your gardens wide; and let the cool, The mind with calm delight, promotes the just
The moist relaxing vegetable store
Prevail in each repast: your food supplied
By bleeding life, be gently wasted down,
By soft decoction and a mellowing heat,
To liquid balm; or, if the solid mass
You choose, tormented in the boiling wave:
That through the thirsty channels of the blood
A smooth diluted chyle may ever flow.
The fragrant dairy from its cool recess
Its nectar acid or benign will pour
And natural movements of th' harmonious frame.
Besides, the sportive brook for ever shakes
The trembling air, that floats from hill to hill,
From vale to mountain, with incessant change
Of purest element, refreshing still
Your airy seat, and uninfected gods.
Chiefly for this I praise the man who builds
High on the breezy ridge, whose lofty sides
Th' ethereal deep with endless billows chafes.
His purer mansion nor contagious years
Shall reach, nor deadly putrid airs annoy.
But may no fogs, from lake or fenny plain,
Involve my hill! and wheresoe'er you build,
Whether on sun-burnt Epsom, or the plains
Wash'd by the silent Lee; in Chelsea low,
Or high Blackheath with wintry winds assail'd;
Dry be your house: but airy more than warm.
Else every breath of ruder wind will strike
Your tender body through with rapid pains;
Fierce coughs will tease you, hoarseness bind your
To drown your thirst; or let the mantling bowl
Of keen sherbet the fickle taste relieve.
For with the viscous blood the simple stream
Will hardly mingle; and fermented cups
Oft dissipate more moisture than they give.
Yet when pale seasons rise, or Winter rolls
His horrors o'er the world, thou may'st indulge
In feasts more genial, and impatient broach
The mellow cask. Then too the scourging air
Provokes to keener toils than sultry droughts
Allow. But rarely we such skies blaspheme.
Steep'd in continual rains, or with raw fogs
Bedew'd, our seasons droop: incumbent still
A ponderous Heaven o'erwhelms the sinking soul.
Lab'ring with storms in heapy mountains rise
Th' embattled clouds, as if the Stygian shades
Had left the dungeon of eternal night,
Till black with thunder all the South descends.
Scarce in a showerless day the Heavens indulge
Our melting clime; except the baleful East
Withers the tender spring, and sourly checks
The fancy of the year. Our fathers talk
Of summers, balmy air, and skies serene.
Good Heaven! for what unexpiated crimes
This dismal change! the brooding elements,
Do they, your powerful ministers of wrath,
Prepare some fierce exterminating plague?
Or is it fix'd in the decrees above
That lofty Albion melt into the main?
Indulgent Nature! O dissolve this gloom!
Bind in eternal adamant the winds
That drown or wither; give the genial West
To breathe, and in its turn the sprightly North:
And may once more the circling seasons rule
The year; not mix in every monstrous day.
Or moist gravedo load your aching brows.
These to defy, and all the fates that dwell
In cloister'd air tainted with steaming life,
Let lofty ceilings grace your ample rooms;
And still at azure noontide may your dome
At every window drink the liquid sky.
Need we the sunny situation here,
And theatres open to the South, commend?
Here, where the morning's misty breath infests
More than the torrid noon? How sickly grow,
How pale, the plants in those ill-fated vales,
That, circled round with the gigantic heap
Of mountains, never felt, nor ever hope
To feel, the genial vigor of the Sun!
While on the neighboring hill the rose inflames
The verdant spring; in virgin beauty blows
The tender lily, languishingly sweet:
O'er every hedge the wanton woodbine roves,
And autumn ripens in the summer's ray.
Nor less the warmer living tribes demand
The fost'ring Sun, whose energy divine
* The wild rose, or that which grows on the common brier.
Dwells not in mortal fire; whose gen'rous heat
Glows through the mass of grosser elements,
And kindles into life the ponderous spheres.
Cheer'd by thy kind invigorating warmth,
We court thy beams, great majesty of day!
If not the soul, the regent of this world,
First-born of Heaven, and only less than God!
ENOUGH of air. A desert subject now,
Rougher and wilder, rises to my sight.
A barren waste, where not a garland grows
To bind the Muse's brow; not ev'n a proud
Stupendo is solitude frowns o'er the heath,
To rouse a noble horror in the soul:
But rugged paths fatigue, and error leads
Through endless labyrinths the devious feet.
Farewell, ethereal fields! the humbler arts
Of life; the table and the homely gods
Demand my song. Elysian gales, adieu!
The blood, the fountain whence the spirits flow,
The generous stream that waters every part,
And motion, vigor, and warm life conveys
To every particle that moves or lives;
This vital fluid, through unnumber'd tubes
Pour'd by the heart, and to the heart again
Refunded; scourg'd for ever round and round;
Enrag'd with heat and toil, at last forgets
Its balmy nature; virulent and thin
grows; and now, but that a thousand gates Are open to its flight, it would destroy The parts it cherish'd and repair'd before. Besides, the flexible and tender tubes Melt in the mildest most nectareous tide That ripening Nature rolls; as in the stream Its crumbling banks; but what the force Of plastic fluids hourly batters down, That very force, those plastic particles Rebuild so mutable the state of man. For this the watchful appetite was given, Daily with fresh materials to repair This unavoidable expense of life, This necessary waste of flesh and blood. Hence, the concoctive powers, with various art, Subdue the cruder aliments to chyle; The chyle to blood; the foamy purple tide To liquors, which through finer arteries To different parts their winding course pursue ; · To try new changes, and new forms put on, Or for the public, or some private use.
Nothing so foreign but th' athletic hind Can labor into blood. The hungry meal Alone he fears, or aliments too thin; By violent powers too easily subdu'd, Too soon expell'd. His daily labor thaws, To friendly chyle, the most rebellious mass That salt can harden, or the smoke of years; Nor does his gorge the luscious bacon rue, Nor that which Cestria sends, tenacious paste Of solid milk. But ye of softer clay, Infirm and delicate! and ye who waste With pale and bloated sloth the tedious day! Avoid the stubborn aliment, avoid The full repast; and let sagacious age Grow wiser, lessen'd by the dropping teeth. Half subtiliz'd to chyle, the liquid food
Readiest obeys th' assimilating powers;
And soon the tender vegetable mass
Relents; and soon the young of those that tread
The stedfast earth, or cleave the green abyss,
Or pathless sky. And if the steer must fall,
In youth and sanguine vigor let him die;
Nor stay till rigid age, or heavy ails,
Absolve him ill-requited from the yoke.
Some with high forage, and luxuriant ease,
Indulge the veteran ox; but wiser thou,
From the bald mountain or the barren downs,
Expect the flocks by frugal Nature fed;
A race of purer blood, with exercise
Refin'd and scanty fare: for, old or young,
The stall'd are never healthy; nor the cramm'd.
Not all the culinary arts can tame
To wholesome food, the abominable growth
Of rest and gluttony; the prudent taste
Rejects like bane such lothesome lusciousness.
The languid stomach curses even the pure
Delicious fat, and all the race of oil:
For more the oily aliments relax
Its feeble tone; and with the eager lymph
(Fond to incorporate with all it meets)
Coyly they mix, and shun with slippery wiles
The woo'd embrace. Th' irresoluble oil,
So gentle late and blandishing, in floods
Of rancid bile o'erflows: what tumults hence,
What horrors rise, were nauseous to relate.
Choose leaner viands, ye whose jovial make
Too fast the gummy nutriment imbibes:
Choose sober meals; and rouse to active life
Your cumbrous clay; nor on the enfeebling down,
Irresolute, protract the morning hours.
But let the man whose bones are thinly clad,
With cheerful ease and succulent repast
Improve his habit if he can; for each
Extreme departs from perfect sanity.
I could relate what table this demands,
Or that complexion; what the various powers
Of various foods: but fifty years would roll,
And fifty more before the tale were done.
Besides, there often lurks some nameless, strange,
Peculiar thing; nor on the skin display'd,
Felt in the pulse, nor in the habit seen;
Which finds a poison in the food that most
The temp'rature affects. There are, whose blood
Impetuous rages through the turgid veins,
Who better bear the fiery fruits of India
Than the moist melon, or pale cucumber.
Of chilly nature others fly the board
Supplied with slaughter, and the vernal powers
For cooler, kinder sustenance implore.
Some even the generous nutriment detest
Which, in the shell, the sleeping embryo rears.
Some, more unhappy still, repent the gifts
Of Pales; soft, delicious and benign:
The balmy quintessence of every flower,
And every grateful herb that decks the spring;
The fost'ring dew of tender sprouting life;
The best refection of declining age;
The kind restorative of those who lie
Half dead and panting, from the doubtful strife
Of nature struggling in the grasp of death.
Try all the bounties of this fertile globe,
There is not such a salutary food
As suits with every stomach. But (except, Amid the mingled mass of fish and fowl, And boil'd and bak'd, you hesitate by which You sunk oppress'd, or whether not by all)
Taught by experience, soon you may discern
What pleases, what offends. Avoid the cates
That lull the sicken'd appetite too long;
Or heave with fev'rish flushings all the face,
Burn in the palms, and parch the rough'ning
Or much diminish or too much increase
Th' expense, which Nature's wise economy,
Without or waste or avarice, maintains.
Such cates abjur'd, let prowling hunger loose,
And bid the curious palate roam at will;
They scarce can err amid the various stores
That burst the teeming entrails of the world.
The sick, the needy, shiver at your gates.
Even modest want may bless your hand unseen,
Though hush'd in patient wretchedness at home.
Is there no virgin, grac'd with ev'ry charm
But that which binds the mercenary vow?
No youth of genius, whose neglected bloom
Unfoster'd sickens in the barren shade?
No worthy man by fortune's random blows,
Or by a heart too generous and humane,
Constrain'd to leave his happy natal seat,
And sigh for wants more bitter than his own?
There are, while human miseries abound,
A thousand ways to waste superfluous wealth,
Without one fool or flatterer at your board,
Without one hour of sickness or disgust.
But other ills th' ambiguous feast pursue,
Besides provoking the lascivious taste.
Such various foods, though harmless each alone,
Each other violate; and oft we see
What strife is brew'd, and what pernicious bane,
From combinations of obnoxious things.
Th' unbounded taste I mean not to confine
To hermit's diet needlessly severe.
But would you long the sweets of health enjoy,
Or husband pleasure; at one impious meal
Exhaust not half the bounties of the year,
Of every realm. It matters not meanwhile
How much to-morrow differ from to-day;
So far indulge; 'tis fit, besides, that man,
To change obnoxious, be to change inur'd.
But stay the curious appetite, and taste
With caution fruits you never tried before.
For want of use the kindest aliment
Sometimes offends; while custom tames the rage
Of poison to mild amity with life.
So Heaven has form'd us to the general taste
Of all its gifts: so custom has improv'd
This bent of nature; that few simple foods,
Of all that earth, or air, or ocean yield,
But by excess offend. Beyond the sense
Of light refection, at the genial board
Indulge not often; nor protract the feast
To dull satiety; till soft and slow
Led by sagacious taste, the ruthless king
Of beasts on blood and slaughter only lives;
The tiger, form'd alike to cruel meals,
Would at the manger starve; of milder seeds
The generous horse to herbage and to grain
Confines his wish; though fabling Greece resound
The Thracian steeds with human carnage wild.
Prompted by instinct's never-erring power,
Each creature knows its proper aliment;
But man, th' inhabitant of every clime,
With all the commoners of Nature feeds.
Directed, bounded, by this power within,
Their cravings are well aim'd: voluptuous man
Is by superior faculties misled;
Misled from pleasure even in quest of joy,
Sated with Nature's boons, what thousands seek,
With dishes tortur'd from their native taste,
And mad variety, to spur beyond
Its wiser will the jaded appetite!
Is this for pleasure? Learn a juster taste!
And know that temperance is true luxury.
Or is it pride? Pursue some nobler aim,
Dismiss your parasites who praise for hire;
And earn the fair esteem of honest men,
Whose praise is fame. Form'd of such clay as yours, What nature well can bear: and one extreme
Ne'er without danger meets its own reverse.
Too greedily th' exhausted veins absorb
The recent chyle, and load enfeebled powers
Oft to th' extinction of the vital flame.
To the pale cities, by the firm-set siege
And famine humbled, may this verse be borne;
And hear, ye hardiest sons that Albion breeds,
Long toss'd and famish'd on the wintry main;
The war shook off, or hospitable shore
Attain'd, with temperance bear the shock of joy;
Nor crown with festive rites th' auspicious day:
Such feasts might prove more fatal than the waves
Than war or famine. While the vital fire
Burns feebly, heap not the green fuel on;
But prudently foment the wandering spark
With what the soonest feeds its kindest touch:
Be frugal ev'n of that: a little give
At first; that kindled, add a little more;
Till, by deliberate nourishing, the flame
Reviv'd with all its wonted vigor glows.
But though the two (the full and the jejune)
Extremes have each their vice; it much avails
Ever with gentle tide to ebb and flow
From this to that; so nature learns to bear
Whatever chance or headlong appetite
May bring. Besides, a meagre day subdues
The cruder clods by sloth or luxury
Collected, and unloads the wheels of life.
Sometimes a coy aversion to the feast
Comes on, while yet no blacker omen lowers;
Then is the time to shun the tempting board,
Were it your natal or your nuptial day
A drowsy death creeps on, th' expansive soul
Oppress'd, and smother'd the celestial fire.
The stomach, urg'd beyond its active tone,
Hardly to nutrimental chyle subdues
The softest food: unfinish'd and deprav'd,
The chyle, in all its future wanderings, owns
Its turbid fountain; not by purer streams
So to be clear'd, but foulness will remain.
To sparkling wine what ferment can exalt
Th' unripen'd grape? or what mechanic skill
From the crude ore can spin the ductile gold?
Gross riot treasures up a wealthy fund
Of plagues: but more immedicable ills
Attend the lean extreme. For physic knows
How to disburthen the too tumid veins,
Even how to ripen the half-labor'd blood:
But to unlock the elemental tubes,
Collaps'd and shrunk with long inanity,
And with balsamic nutriment repair
The dried and worn-out habit, were to bid
Old age grow green, and wear a second spring;
Or the tall ash, long ravish'd from the soil,
Through wither'd veins imbibe the vernal dew.
When hunger calls, obey; not often wait
Till hunger sharpen to corrosive pain:
For the keen appetite will feast beyond
Perhaps a fast so seasonable starves
The latent seeds of woe, which rooted once
Might cost you labor. But the day return'd
Of festal luxury, the wise indulge
Most in the tender vegetable breed:
Then chiefly when the summer beams inflame
The brazen Heavens; or angry Sirius sheds
A feverish taint through the still gulf of air.
The moist cool viands then, and flowing cup
From the fresh dairy-virgin's liberal hand,
Will save your head from harm, tho' round the world
The dreaded causos* roll his wasteful fires.
Pale humid Winter loves the generous board,
The meal more copious, and the warmer fare;
And longs with old wood and old wine to cheer
His quaking heart. The seasons which divide
Th' empires of heat and cold; by neither claim'd,
Influenc'd by both; a middle regimen
Impose. Through Autumn's languishing domain
Descending, Nature by degrees invites
To glowing luxury. But from the depth
Of Winter, when th' invigorated year
Emerges; when Favonius, flush'd with love,
Toyful and young, in every breeze descends
More warm and wanton on his kindling bride;
Then, shepherds, then begin to spare your flocks;
And learn, with wise humanity, to check
The lust of blood. Now pregnant earth commits
A various offspring to the indulgent sky:
Now bounteous Nature feeds with lavish hand
The prone creation; yields what once suffic'd
Their dainty sovereign, when the world was young;
Ere yet the barbarous thirst of blood had seiz'd
The human breast.-Each rolling month matures
The food that suits it most; so does each clime.
A generous pulp: the cocoa swells on high
With milky riches; and in horrid mail
The crisp ananas wraps its poignant sweets.
Earth's vaunted progeny; in ruder air
Too coy to flourish, even too proud to live;
Or hardly rais'd by artificial fire
To vapid life. Here with a mother's smile
Glad Amalthea pours her copious horn.
Here buxom Ceres reigns: the autumnal sea
In boundless billows fluctuates o'er their plains.
What suits the climate best, what suits the men,
Nature profuses most and most the taste
Demands. The fountain, edg'd with racy wine
Or acid fruit, bedews their thirsty souls.
The breeze eternal breathing round their limbs
Supports in else intolerable air:
While the cool palm, the plantain, and the grove
That waves on gloomy Lebanon, assuage
The torrid Hell that beams upon their heads.
Now come, ye Naiads, to the fountains lead;
Now let me wander through your gelid reign.
I burn to view th' enthusiastic wilds
By mortal else untrod. I hear the din
Of waters thund'ring o'er the ruin'd cliffs.
With holy reverence I approach the rocks
Whence glide the streams renown'd in ancient song.
Here from the desert down the rumbling steep
First springs the Nile; here bursts the sounding Po
In angry waves; Euphrates hence devolves
A mighty flood to water half the East:
And there, in Gothic solitude reclin'd,
The cheerless Tanais pours his hoary urn.
What solemn twilight! what stupendous shades
Enwrap these infant floods! through every nerve
A sacred horror thrills, a pleasing fear
Glides o'er my frame. The forest deepens round
And more gigantic still th' impending trees
Stretch their extravagant arms athwart the gloom
Are these the confines of some fairy world?
A land of genii? Say, beyond these wilds
What unknown nations? if, indeed, beyond
Aught habitable lies. And whither leads,
To what strange regions, or of bliss or pain,
That subterraneous way? Propitious maids,
Conduct me, while with fearful steps I tread
This trembling ground. The task remains to sing
Your gifts (so Pæon, so the powers of health
Command) to praise your crystal element:
The chief ingredient in Heaven's various works i
Whose flexile genius sparkles in the gem,
Grows firm in oak, and fugitive in wine;
The vehicle, the source, of nutriment
And life, to all that vegetate or live.
O comfortable streams! with eager lips
And trembling hand the languid thirsty quaff
New life in you; fresh vigor fills their veins.
No warmer cups the rural ages knew;
None warmer sought the sires of human-kind.
Happy in temperate peace! their equal days
Felt not th' alternate fits of feverish mirth,
Far in the horrid realms of Winter, where
Th' establish'd ocean heaps a monstrous waste
Of shining rocks and mountains to the Pole,
There lives a hardy race, whose plainest wants
Relentless Earth, their cruel stepmother,
Regards not. On the waste of iron fields,
Untam'd, intractable, no harvests wave:
Pomona hates them, and the clownish god
Who tends the garden. In this frozen world
Such cooling gifts were vain: a fitter meal
Is earn'd with ease; for here the fruitful spawn
Of ocean swarms, and heaps their genial board
With generous fare and luxury profuse.
These are their bread, the only bread they know:
These, and their willing slave the deer that crops
The shrubby herbage on their meagre hills.
Girt by the burning zone, not thus the South
Her swarthy sons in either Ind maintains:
Or thirsty Libya; from whose fervid loins
The lion bursts, and every fiend that roams
Th' affrighted wilderness. The mountain-herd,
Adust and dry, no sweet repast affords;
Nor does the tepid main such kinds produce,
So perfect, so delicious, as the shoals
Of icy Zembla. Rashly where the blood
Brews feverish frays; where scarce the tubes sustain And sick dejection. Still serene and pleas'd,
Its tumid fervor, and tempestuous course;
Kind Nature tempts not to such gifts as these.
But here in livid ripeness melts the grape:
Here, finish'd by invigorating suns,
Through the green shade the golden orange glows:
Spontaneous here the turgid melon yields
They knew no pains but what the tender soul
With pleasure yields to, and would ne'er forget.
Blest with divine immunity from ails,
Long centuries they liv'd; their only fate
Was ripe old age, and rather sleep than death.
Oh! could those worthies from the world of gods
Return to visit their degenerate sons,
How would they scorn the joys of modern time.
The burning fever.