Page images

Swells in the farmer's breast, which his pale lips
Trembling conceal, by his fierce landlord aw'd:
But courteous now he levels every fence,
Joins in the common cry, and halloos loud,
Charm’d with the rattling thunder of the field.
Oh bear me, some kind power invisible !
To that extended lawn, where the gay court
View the swift racers, stretching to the goal ;
Games more renown'd, and a far nobler train,
Than proud Elean fields could boast of old.
Oh! were a Theban lyre not wanting here,
And Pindar's voice, to do their merit right!
Or to those spacious plains, where the strain'd eye,
In the wide prospect lost, beholds at last
Sarum's proud spire, that o'er the hills ascends,
And pierces through the clouds. Or to thy downs,
Fair Cotswold, where the well-breath'd beagle climbs
With matchless speed thy green aspiring brow,
And leaves the lagging multitude behind.

Hail, gentle Dawn! mild blushing goddess, hail !
Rejoic'd I see thy purple mantle spread
O'er half the skies, gems pave thy radiant way,
And orient pearls from every shrub depend.
Farewell, Cleora ; here deep sunk in down
Slumber secure, with happy dreams amus'd,
Till grateful steams shall tempt thee to receive
Thy curly meal, or thy officious maids,
The toilet plac'd, shall urge thee to perform
Th' important work. Me other joys invite,
The horn sonorous calls, the pack awak'd
Their mattins chaunt, nor brook my long delay.
My courser hears their voice ; see there, with ears

And tail erect, neighing he paws the ground;
Fierce rapture kindles in his reddening eyes,
And boils in every vein. As captive boys
Cow'd by the ruling rod and haughty frowns
Of pedagogues severe, from their hard tasks
If once dismiss'd, no limits can contain
The tumult rais'd within their little breasts,
But give a loose to all their frolic play:
So from their kennel rush the joyous pack;
A thousand wanton gaieties express
Their inward ecstasy, their pleasing sport
Once more indulg'd, and liberty restor'd.
The rising Sun, that o'er th' horizon peeps,
As many colours from their glossy skins
Beaming reflects, as paint the various bow
When April showers descend. Delightful scene !
Where all around is gay, men, horses, dogs,
And in each smiling countenance appears
Fresh blooming health, and universal joy.

Huntsman, lead on! behind the clustering pack
Submiss attend, hear with respect thy whip
Loud-clanging, and thy harsher voice obey :
Spare not the straggling cur that wildly roves ;
But let thy brisk assistant on his back
Imprint thy just resentments ; let each lash
Bite to the quick, till howling he return,
And whining creep amid the trembling crowd.

Here on this verdant spot, where Nature kind With double blessings crowns the farmer's hopes ; Where flowers autumnal spring, and the rank mead Affords the wandering hares a rich repast; Throw off thy ready pack. See, where they spread,

And range around, and dash the glittering dew.
If some staunch hound, with his authentic voice,
Avow the recent trail, the justling tribe
Attend his call, then with one mutual cry
The welcome news confirm, and echoing hills
Repeat the pleasing tale. See how they thread
The brakes, and up yon furrow drive along!
But quick they back recoil, and wisely check
Their eager haste; then o'er the fallow'd ground
How leisurely they work, and many a pause
Th' harmonious concert breaks ; till more assur'd
With joy redoubled the low valleys ring.
What artful labyrinths perplex their way!
Ah! there she lies; how close : she pants, she doubts
If now she lives; she trembles as she sits,
With horrour seiz'd. The wither'd grass that clings
Around her head, of the same russet hue,
Almost deceiv'd my sight, had not her eyes
With life full-beaming her vain wiles betray’d.
At distance draw thy pack, let all be hushid,
No clamour loud, no frantic joy be heard,
Lest the wild hound run gadding o'er the plain
Untractable, nor hear thy chiding voice.
Now gently put her off ; see how direct
To her known mew she flies ! Here, huntsman, bring
(But without hurry) all thy jolly hounds,
And calmly lay them in. How low they stoop,
And seem to plough the ground ! then all at once
With greedy nostrils snuff the fuming steam
That glads their fluttering hearts. As winds let loose
From the dark caverns of the blustering god,
They burst away, and sweep the dewy lawn.

Hope gives them wings while she's spurr'd on by

fear, The welkin rings, men, dogs, hills, rocks, and woods In the full concert join. Now, my brave youths, Stripp'd for the chase, give all your souls to joy! See how their coursers, than the mountain roe More fleet, the verdant carpet skim, thick clouds Snorting they breathe, their shining hoofs scarce

print The grass

unbruis'd; with emulation fir'd They strain to lead the field, top the barr'd gate, O'er the deep ditch exulting bound, and brush The thorny-twining hedge: the riders bend O'er their arch'd necks; with steady hands, by turns Indulge their speed, or moderate their rage. Where are their sorrows, disappointments, wrongs, Vexations, sickness, cares ? All, all are gone, And with the panting winds lag far behind.

Huntsman ! her gait observe; if in wide rings She wheel her mazy way, in the same round Persisting still, she 'll foil the beaten track. But if she fly, and with the favouring wind Urge her bold course ; less intricate thy task : Push on thy pack. Like some poor exil'd wretch, The frighted Chase leaves her late dear abodes, O'er plains remote she stretches far away, Ah! never to return! For greedy Death Hovering exults, secure to seize his prey.

Hark! from yon covert, where those towering oaks Above the humble copse aspiring rise, What glorious triumphs burst in every gale Upon our ravish'd ears! The hunters shout,

The clanging horns swell their sweet-winding notes,
The pack wide opening load the trembling air
With various melody; from tree to tree
The propagated cry redoubling bounds,
And winged zephyrs waft the floating joy
Through all the regions near : afflictive birch
No more the school-boy dreads, his prison broke,
Scampering he flies, nor heeds his master's call ;
The weary traveller forgets his road,
And climbs th' adjacent hill ; the ploughman leaves
Th' unfinish'd furrow; nor his bleating flocks
Are now the shepherd's joy ! men, boys, and girls
Desert th' unpeopled village; and wild crowds
Spread o'er the plain, by the sweet frenzy seiz'd.
Look, how she pants ! and o'er yon opening glade
Slips glancing by! while, at the further end,
The puzzling pack unravel wile by wile,
Maze within maze. The covert's utmost bound
Slily she skirts ; behind them cautious creeps ;
And in that very track, so lately stain'd
By all the steaming crowd, seems to pursue
The foe she flies. Let cavillers deny
That brutes have reason ; sure 'tis something more,
'Tis Heaven directs, and stratagems inspires
Beyond the short extent of human thought.
But hold — I see her from the covert break;
Sad on yon little eminence she sits;
Intent she listens with one ear erect,
Pondering, and doubtful what new course to take,
And how t escape the fierce blood-thirsty crew,
That still urge on, and still in vollies loud
Insult her woes, and mock her sore distress.

[blocks in formation]
« EelmineJätka »