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Amid thy bowers the tyrant's hand is seen,
And desolation saddens all thy green:
One only master grasps the whole domain,
And half a tillage stints thy smiling plain.
No more thy glassy brook reflects the day,
But chok'd with sedges works its weedy way;
Along thy glades, a solitary guest,
The hollow-sounding bittern guards its nest ;
Amid thy desert-walks the lapwing flies,
And tires their echoes with unvaried cries;
Sunk are thy bowers in shapeless ruin all,
And the long grass o'ertops the moldering wall ;
And, trembling, shrinking from the spoiler's hand,
Far, far away thy children leave the land.
Ill fares the land, to hastening ills a prey,
Where wealth accumulates, and men decay:
Princes and lords may flourish, or may fade -
A breath can make them, as a breath has made ;
But a bold peasantry, their country's pride,
When once destroy’d, can never be supplied.
A time there was, ere England's griefs began,
When every rood of ground maintain'd its man:
For him light labor spread her wholesome store,
what life requir'd, but gave no more ;
His best companions, innocence and health,
And his best riches, ignorance of wealth.
But times are alter'd ; trade's unfeeling train
Usurp the land, and dispossess the swain :
Along the lawn, where scatter'd hamlets rose,
Unwieldy wealth and cumbrous pomp repose ;
And every want to opulence allied ;
And every pang that folly pays to pride.
These gentle hours that plenty bade to bloom,
Those calm desires that ask'd but little room,
Those healthful sports that grac'd the peaceful scene,
Liv'd in each look and brighten'd all the green —
These, far departing, seek a kinder shore,
And rural mirth and manners are no more.
Sweet AUBURN! parent of the blissful hour,
Thy glades forlorn confess the tyrant's power.
Here, as I take my solitary rounds
Amid thy tangling walks and ruin'd grounds,
And, many a year elaps’d, return to view
Where once the cottage stood, the hawthorn grew-
Remembrance wakes with all her busy train,
Swells at my breast, and turns the past to pain.
In all my wanderings round this world of care,
In all my griefs — and God has given my share -
I still had hopes, my latest hours to crown,
Amid these humble bowers to lay me down ;
To husband out life's taper at the close,
And keep the flame from wasting, by repose.
I still had hopes, for pride attends us still,
Amid the swains to show my book-learn'd skill —
Around my fire an evening group to draw, ,
And tell of all I felt, and all I saw;
And as an hare, whom hounds and horns pursue,
Pants to the place from whence at first she flew,
I still had hopes, my long vexations passid,
Here to return--and die at home at last.
O bless'd retirement, friend to life's decline,
Retreats from care, that never must be mine!
How happy he who crowns, in shades like these,
A youth of labor with an age of ease ;
Who quits a world where strong temptations try -
And, since 'tis hard to combat, learns to fly.
For him no wretches, born to work and weep,
Explore the mine, or tempt the dangerous deep;
No surly porter stands, in guilty state,
To spurn imploring famine from the gate ;
But on he moves, to meet his latter end,
Angels around befriending virtue's friend -
Bends to the grave with unperceiv'd decay,
While resignation gently slopes the way —
And, all his prospects brightening to the last,
His heaven commences ere the world be pass’d.
Sweet was the sound, when oft at evening's close
Up yonder hill the village murmur rose.
There as I pass’d, with careless steps and slow,
The mingling notes came soften'd from below:
The swain responsive as the milkmaid sung,
The sober herd that low'd to meet their young,
The noisy geese that gabbled o'er the pool,
The playful children just let loose from school,
The watch-dog's voice that bay'd the whispering wind,
And the loud laugh that spoke the vacant mind
These all in sweet confusion sought the shade,
And fill'd each pause the nightingale had made.
But now the sounds of population fail,
No cheerful murmurs fluctuate in the gale,
No busy steps the grass-grown footway tread,
For all the bloomy flush of life is fled —
All but yon widow'd, solitary thing,
That feebly bends beside the plashy spring ;
She, wretched matron — forc'd in age, for bread,
To strip the brook with mantling cresses spread,