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FROM THE FLOWER AND THE LEAF. 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. Wandering, 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 tell, 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
Thus, as I mused, I cast aside my eye,
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 echoed 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'erpower'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 pried on every flower, If anywhere 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 sat, and fair in sight,
On the green bank I sat, and listen'd long
Thus while I sat intent to see and hear, And drew perfumes of more than vital air, All suddenly I heard th' approaching sound Of vocal music on th' enchanted ground; A 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 behind 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 form 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,
[queen. By stature and by beauty mark'd their sovereign
She in the midst began with sober grace;
Thus dancing on, and singing as they danced,
O'erjoy'd to see the jolly troop so near,
RELIGIO LAICI. Dim as the borrow'd beams of moon and stars To lonely, weary, wandering travellers, Is Reason to the soul : and as on high, Those rolling fires discover but the sky, Not light us here; so Reason's glimmering ray Was lent, not to assure our doubtful way, But guide us upward to a better day. And as those nightly tapers disappear When day's bright lord ascends our hemisphere, So pale grows Reason at Religion's sight; So dies, and so dissolves in supernatural light. Some few, whose lamp shone brighter, have been led From cause to cause, to Nature's secret head, And found that one first principle must be: But what or who that universal He; Whether some soul encompassing this ball Unmade, unmoved, yet making, moving all; Or various atoms, interfering dance, Leap'd into form, the noble work of chance; Or this great all was from eternity; Not ev'n the Stagirite himself could see, And Epicurus guess'd as well as he; As blindly groped they for a future state, As rashly judged of providence and fate: But least of all could their endeavours find What most concern'd the good of human-kind: For happiness was never to be found, But vanish'd from them like enchanted ground. One thought content the good to be enjoy'd ; --This every little accident destroy'd :