Backwardness of the Present Spring Accounted For, May 5th, 1782

Last Wen'sday, when Jupiter rose to survey
The annual return and procession of May,
Concluding, the lady with Venus and Flora
Would come in full dress in the coach of Aurora,
That a string of attendants as usual would follow,
And the rear of the show be brought up by Apollo;
He look'd and inquir'd, and gave orders in vain,
Time seem'd to stand still, and to wait for the train;
Aurora was sulky and loath to appear,
And the d—l of an hour, flower, or sunshine was there.
May came, it is true, but in strange dishabille
Was wrapp'd up in flannels, and look'd very ill.
The God shook his curls, for he little expected
To see an old fav'rite of his so neglected;
Besides, he was vex'd to find things out of season,
And Mercury straight was dispatch'd for a reason;
From his mother a full information he got,
And importantly though he discover'd a plot.
On Flora he seiz'd, as the cause and contriver,
And up to Jove's throne he determin'd to drive her;
The god who rules all things but hell and his wife,
And was ne'er contradicted elsewhere in his life;
Bounc'd about in a passion as soon as he saw her,
And swore through the kennel his beadles should draw her.
Do you think I'm to wait here for you, Ma'am, all day?
Why are not you ready to set out with May?
You are wanted, you know, as a principal guest;
But you won't go yourself, and you keep back the rest.
Will Spring, do you think (whose chief beauties depend
Upon you,) stir a step, unless you will attend?
I, too, am prepar'd with a genial shower,
And to hold it much longer is not in my power;
In short, Ma'am, be quick, and repair your transgressions,
Or I'll bind you, by Styx, to your next quarter sessions.
Poor Flora wept, sigh'd, and begg'd hard to be heard,
But till he was blown could not get in a word;
When seizing occasion to open her cause,
She spoke much in praise of good order and laws.
She went round the globe, call'd on every nation
Haranguing at large upon civilization.
Her own reputation in Sweden she hit on,
And that brought her home to its state in Great Britain,
Where an ignorant treatment of her and her system
Encouraged her subjects, she said, to resist 'em;
Vegetation, of course, was o'er-run with disorder,
From the wood and the wall to the bank and the border;
Her wisest economy strangely distorted,
And her government could not be longer supported.
Here rank and high titles, said she, have no merit,
And my weeds are brought up in a levelling spirit;
Yon vagabond Fungus, what else could provoke
To tread on the toes of his Highness the oak.
'Yes, yes, discontent is gone suddenly forth,
'And I very much fear they will rise in the North;
'Those horns, bells and trumpets increase my alarms,
'My people are certainly taking to arms;
'To my empire adieu! civil wars overwhelm it,
'And each takes the field with his target and helmet;
'With lance, pike and scymitar, helmet and dagger,
'With banners all flying (my stars!) how they swagger!
'And fright my fine ladies who noddle their plumes,
'And flutter their ribbons and shed their perfumes,
'And endeavour to lay, with lyre, fiddle, and flute,
'The dust that's kick'd up in this cursed dispute;
'But such peaceable catgut the times does not suit.
'Observe, too, what irregularity passes
'From the want of distinction of sexes and classes,
'No wonder we see such a grinning of corols
'Amidst this confusion of manners and morals.
'While Stipule, and Strobule, Culm, Spadix and Umbil,
'(Rare words that it does one's teeth good but to mumble,)
'Cyme, Filament, Ament, Silique and Silicle,
'(Sweet sounds that one's ear so delightfully tickle,)
'With Calyx, Cotyledon, Stigma, and Stamen
'Are cropp'd, undistinguish'd by ladies and laymen;
'Shall a Hammersmith girl or a gardener's boy
'My fairest arrangement at pleasure destroy?
'Shall a bird's nesting brat my Nobility throttle,
'Or a chambermaid stick a great Prince in a bottle?
'By the legs shall a right perfect flower and his bride
'With Mules and Hermaphrodites daily be tied?
'Can marriage made public and marriage clandestine
'The same common bed with strict decency rest in?
'Shall a couple as constant as Darby and Joan,
'In a basket with libertine flaunters be thrown?
'Ye wives with ten husbands, say, will they content ye,
'Whilst a neighbour lies by you with no less than twenty?
'Ye husbands in wives though not stinted to few,
'Don't you envy the flower that has concubines too?
'Ye ladies with eunuchs, now is it not hard
'That your virtue should seem to require such a guard,
'While yon gay painted gossip may gad where she will,
'Yet her husband, (good creature,) suspecteth no ill.
'Patricians, stand forth, and say, what pretty bosom
'Makes amends for your joining a Plebeian blossom.
'And will you, though in a lac'd button-hole, stoop
'Any longer with soldiers and servants to group?
'No, no, my gay empire will sooner dissever,
'And my Colonists claim independence for ever.
'But, Sir, I have lately adopted a measure,
'The prospect of which gives me infinite pleasure;
'Some scholars of Lichfield who came recommended
'By the Muses who there on their Seward attended.
'Indeed, they are men of no small reputation,
'Now constitute wholly my administration,
'And they are compiling my classification.
'The people who hear and the people who read
'Henceforward in vain ignoramus will plead.
'No tongue can excusably drop a rude word,
'Before flowers that are parted from bed and from board,
'Or put to distress those unfortunate spouses,
'Who live from their husbands in separate houses;
'These great legislators will shortly prescribe
'The laws, rules and habits of every Tribe.
'Thus their manners no longer each other will shock,
'What is wrong in a Rose may be right in a Dock.
'Rejoice, then, my children! the hour is at hand,
'When Botanical knowledge shall govern the land;
'Shall spend all their time in examining grasses;
'When every school-boy that pulls up a kex,
'With plyers and needles shall search for its sex.
'When gardeners girls their bouquets shall compose,
'Corresponding in rank with a customer's nose.
'When buds of distinction shall ride in their coaches,
'When family weight shall their blossoms promote,
'And titles advance them to noses of note.
'My commoners, too, whom less honours attend,
'From highest to lowest shall each have a friend.
'This the Captain's high nostrils shall please with its prickles,
'Whilst that with soft wings a fat Alderman tickles.
'These velvet ones give to a counsellor smooth,
'Or take them to sessions their worships to sooth,
'Gather Heart's-ease for Damon, that lover so blest;
'Let Sweet Williams cling to fond Phillida's breast;
'And the pale pining swain who despairs of succeeding,
'My indulge his soft sorrows with Love-lies-a-bleeding.
'But who is that lady who turns up her eyes,
'And the ways of the country affects to despise?
''Tis Miss Haberdasher, brought up in Cheapside,
'And she'll surfeit us all with her dear London Pride.
'With a sprig of Parnassus the Poet elate
'Will conceive he has much of the fruit in his pate,
'And mad with the charms of its honey caps, quarrel
'With all the world round till you give him the laurel.
'Old Chalkstone some Twingewort will feelingly choose,
'May Noli me tangere save him a bruise!
'Ye Flowers of good name and good habits I warn ye,
'To keep clear of the gripe of a low-liv'd Attorney.
'Let Dodder and Mud-weed decipher his heart,
'And Rope-grass and Devil's-bit mark his desert!
'Yon thick cluster'd stems any tradesman may crop
'To make a huge besom of sweets for his shop.
'Those strong-scented plants in the corner may serve
'To cherish a chandler's olfactory nerve.
'Bid the field-preacher squeeze up that rank Herb of grace,
'To embitter his long hypocritical face.
'Let Goose-tongue the Clerk of the Parish be sent to,
'And the Watchman from Wake-Robin take a memento.
'A tailor the fumes of his cabbage and hell,
'May with Rag-wort and Flea-wort and Louse-wort expel;
'And the Tinker so drunk after mending a kettle
'May keep up the fire in his nose with a nettle;
'My subjects will thus be employ'd with decorum,
'And till this is done, Sir, I'll not march before 'em.'
Jove was glad when she finish'd, accepted her reasons,
So call'd for the J——n, and put back the Seasons.

The Fall of Needwood

Ah, Needwood! I, whose early voice
Taught thy shrill echoes to rejoice;
I, who first pour'd the sylvan song
Thy glades, thy banks, thy lawns along;
I, who with artless pencil drew
Thy Forest charms of varied hue,
Approach thee now with different strain,
That mourns thy wrongs, yet mourns in vain:
I come, but not with former haste,
To view the dim unshelter'd Waste,
That once was Needwood: on thy brow
No green-rob'd Wood-nymph beckons now;
Yet be thy spirit sooth'd to bear
My Requiem through the void of air!

O Draycot Cliff! again thy height,
Known beacon of my young delight,
With sad'ning thoughts, that much portend
Of change and tumult, I ascend;
Nor flatter'd by thy levell'd way,
That smiles, like worldlings, to betray.
How swells my aged heart, now near
Scenes to my happiest youth so dear!
How sinks that heart, as these arise,
Distorted, to my anguish'd eyes!
Where are those ample plains, display'd
'Mong woods with many an opening glade?
Where is the wild doe, bounding by
Once emblem of their liberty?
No stragglers from the warren, fleet
Scud cross my path with flirting feet.
No jealous blood-hound, brave and proud.
Throws from the lodge his challenge loud.

O hear me on thy summits tall,
Time-honour'd Needwood! hear my call!
For thou my filial voice hast known.—
No answer follows — hark! a groan!
His ancient seats I seek in vain;
He, nor his ancient seats remain;
But in strange horror staring round,
A Spectre, pointing to his wound,
Of hideous shape, with bald head, stalks
Before me o'er the ravag'd walks;
Where Desolation grim affrights
Sham'd Ceres in unhallow'd rites;
Where the check'd Plunderer shrinks aside,
As by his own deed terrified,
Or fears, from many a faithful root,
Vengeance in ambush at his foot.

Wavering alike in mind and pace,
I roam, familiar haunts to trace;
The winds, that bow me as I go,
Rush unrestrain'd, as wild with woe,
Or querulously vex'd to miss
The blooming groves they lov'd to kiss.
Each spot discover'd has its tale;
Seems a friend's voice in every gale;
Wak'd Recollection starts aghast,
And thoughtful sighs o'er pleasures past.

When Nature, with exulting smile,
Form'd from her stores this happy Isle,
Curious, and bounteously intent
To raise a central ornament,
She cull'd the brightest and the best;
And heap'd them on her darling's breast:
Sprung joyful to her warm embrace
Th' appointed Genius of the Place;
His features fair young Beauty drew;
On her soft lap the fondling grew;
The Seasons came his birth to greet,
And pour'd their choicest at his feet;
The Dryads quaintly curl'd his locks;
Nymphs, Fauns, and Satyrs rush'd in flocks,
Pleas'd in such Fairy-land to dwell,
And peopled every bower and dell.
Kings mark'd the consecrated ground;
And Power protective watch'd around.
Long Mercia sat beside enthron'd;
And prouder crowns its honors own'd.
Delighted Ages list'ning heard
The wild hoof beat the tainted swerd,
The glad'ning hound and echoing horn,
And hunters' shouts far onward borne.
How did his dignity excel!
Blush, blush ye times when Needwood fell!

'Twas Avarice with his harpy claws,
Great Victim! rent thy guardian laws;
Loos'd Uproar with his ruffian bands;
Bade havoc show his crimson'd hands;
Grinn'd a coarse smile, as thy last deer
Dropp'd in thy lap a dying tear;
Exulted in his schemes accurst,
When thy pierc'd heart, abandon'd, burst;
And, glozing on the public good,
Insidious demon! suck'd thy blood.
Detested ever be that day,
Which left thee a defenceless prey!
May never sun its presence cheer!
O be it blotted from the year!

Where now the Forest freeman's boast?
His joys, his hopes, his name are lost.
Repentant claimants of the soil!
Yours keen remorse and thankless toil;
Strangers and hirelings snatch the spoil.
Too late ye mourn your glory gone;
Thus, fell Owhyhee's senseless crew,
Him, their best friend, their idol, slew;
Shar'd his torn limbs with savage pride;
Then griev'd, infatuate! that he died.
Ah, who but knows and loves the lay
Which Seward hung on Cook's Morai?
O had I such melodious tear,
Lamented Needwood, for thy bier!

Forests of England! ye might claim
A proud share in her ancient fame.
Tell your forgetful country, tell,
When dangers dread her state befel,
How rush'd your sons in hardy bands,
Their long bows in their skilful hands;
How far the foremost and the best,
On fierce invading foes they press'd;
With what sure aim their arrows flew,
Whistling the death song ere they slew,
You, in your secret labyrinths, spread
Your dark shields o'er great Alfred's head,
True to your charge; the ruthless Dane
Brandish'd his reeking blade in vain.
'Twas yours to nurse that mighty mind,
Where every virtue sat enshrin'd.
Your hush'd leaves parted, as the beams
Of glory shot, and fir'd his dreams.
You fann'd his patriot bosom's glow;
You tun'd his harp; you trimm'd his bow.
He imag'd in your wolves his foes;
And practis'd vengeance keener rose.
Your proud oaks lean'd to court the hand,
Which England's conquering navy plann'd.
Your song-birds taught him to convey
Mild manners in attractive lay;
While Liberty, the nymph you love,
Braided the silken bands he wove.
On circled lawns, in secret glade,
You marshall'd thousands to his aid,
Then gave him from your woods to shine
A Caesar and an Antonine.
There the bright wreaths of victory grew;
And Themis pluck'd her wand from you.
Rous'd vigorous by the morning air,
So quits the monarch stag his lair;
With fresh fray'd beams his rival seeks;
His meditated vengeance wreaks;
And, stamping on the mountain's brow,
Claims homage from the vale below.

On yonder castled cliff, of old,
Needwood, how throng'd thy archers bold,
When there, for deeds of arms array'd,
His banner princely Gaunt display'd!
And fill'd they not his chosen ranks
On distant Ebro's oliv'd banks?
Spain's boasted slingers! soon ye fled
From English bowmen, Forest-bred.
Fame stak'd her dearest honors therhe:
And won not Needwood's sons their share?

Illustrious History, bear me back
Up golden Time's recorded track,
And bring from thy illumin'd page
The heroes of that martial age,
When knightly valour's own right hand
Sought fame, and spoil, and high command!
Say, as they pass in bright review,
What favourite takes precedence due?
They come — the pride and pomp of war
Mark their disastrous course afar.
Ah, while the mad'ning trumpet brays,
Fields reek with blood, and cities blaze;
Fell cries for glory or a crown
The shrieks of wives and orphans drown.
See English Richard's crest advance!—
Back from the lightning of his lance!
Hark! nations hail in loud accord
His lion heart and victor sword.
Cease, cease thy boasting, clarion vain!
Truth gives my lyre a purer strain.
Blush, as thy people, haughty king,
Shout for the man thy Minstrels bring,
And offer, with less guilty claim,
A Forest Yeoman's humble name!
How sweetly pours that bugle shrill
Its mellow tones o'er dale and hill,
As Sherwood's Hero, down the glade,
Steps with his bow and bright brown blade,
His feather'd arrows, broad and keen,
Hung lightly o'er his gown of green!
A robber! say'st thou? Thy harsh laws,
Oppressor, and the poor man's cause
Led him, indignant, to the wood,
With bold pretence of rights withstood.
Churls, with no feeling but for self,
Yield to his better hands your pelf!
Such trespass Fear disdains to hide;
And hoodwink'd Justice peeps aside.
The liberal air his freeborn soul
Lifts high, in scorn of base control.
In fellowship and fealty bound,
Firm as the knights of Table Round,
Him and his hundred, tall and fleet,
Not twice two hundred care to meet.
Minions oppose not his career!
He seeks no slaughter, but of deer.
Yet will he pass unquestion'd by:
Raise but your weapons and you die!
Start not fair maids! your path pursue
Unharm'd; he guards its peace for you;
And cheers, on each occasion kind.
In age or want, the hamlet hind.
Here, warriors, to the Forest turn,
True courage and its use to learn!
Here, nobles, to the wood resort,
For courtesy unknown at court! —
Needwood, this brave man was thy guest;
Love crown'd the day, and Mirth the feast.

Region, where all delights were found
How look'st thou now? a burial ground!
With sad memorials, here and there,
Of what was noble, free, and fair.
King's-standing, with a tortur'd frown,
Marks its own splendour overthrown.
Whate'er of wood or lawn could please,
In grand assemblage broad display'd,
This far commanding mount survey'd.
How chang'd! those oaks that tower'd so high,
Dismember'd, stript, extended, lie;
On the stain'd turf their wrecks are pil'd,
Where thousand Summers bask'd and smil'd;
In smouldering heaps their limbs consume;
The dark smoke marks their casual tomb;
From blacken'd brakes, the choak'd winds toss
The ashes of the golden goss;
While great with power, yon Wretch derides
And boasts the mischief, which he guides.
Thus, when, in unsuspecting peace,
Rush'd Scythia's hordes on fertile Greece,
Mars, their grim god, whom heav'n abhors,
Urg'd with fell taunts to wasteful wars.

Valley, where Marebrook all unveil'd
Her slender line far shining trail'd,
With frequent curves thy slopes between,
As loth to quit the enticing scene;
Or turning with young fawns to play,
Wily and volatile as they;
Alluring, with her tinkling sweet,
From bank to bank, their timid feet;
Lov'd Valley, now no charm invites
My steps to rove thy breezy heights:
Thy wavy knolls the fence arrests;
The rude spade wounds thy swelling breasts;
Rent her fair locks and mantle rich,
Forlorn, along that hateful ditch
Thy violated Naiad steals,
And in foul streams her shame conceals.

These broad roots bore a secret grove,
Where I was wont at eve to rove;
And, while low-thoughted cares retired,
Wrap'd in fond musings, fancy-fir'd,
Saw what alone the mind's eye sees;
Heard other whisperings than the breeze;
And knights and dames, and dwarfs portray'd,
And bright arms gleaming down the glade;
Drew Magic, muttering powerful spell,
And Witchcraft with demoniac yell.
Hark! the last trunk that axe assails;
See! the plough tears the writhing vales;
Stop, thoughtless clown! nor dare to bring
Destruction on that Fairy-Ring,
Imprinted deep with stainless green,
And lasting beauty, seldom seen.
E'en Winter paus'd that turf to spare;
Nor look'd the fiery Dog-star there.
And once more may Titania come,
With farewell, to her ancient home;
But, for the bee-bird's gaudy plume,
Wav'd o'er her neck in quivering bloom,
Funereal spray of dismal hue,
Of cypress, or the baleful yew,
Join'd with the nightshade's deadly flower,
Shall darkly o'er her forehead lower.
Attendant Fays, in mournful throng,
Nor trace the dance, nor raise the song;
While, for the shrill reed's cheerful sound,
That led them lightly tripping round,
Beetles and drones, with hummings low,
Measure their footfalls sad and slow.—
Alas, no gentle sprite remains!
But foul fiends scour th' affrighted plains,
Rob of their honours hills and lawns,
Trace the mean ditch that greedy yawns,
And teach the reptile hedge to crawl;
Twin pests, confederate, seizing all!

What old man with his grey dog sits,
What blind man, by those sandy pits?
'Tis Manuel! — and he rests him where
My fox-earth was his nightly care. —
Ah, come not now to scenes so drear,
Gay hunters! scenes ye cannot cheer.
Ah venture not their threats to brave;
Nor tample on your Needwood's grave!—
'Tis Manuel! and he knows my voice:
His tears, though not his eyes, rejoice:
Reduc'd by age and loss of sight
To beggary and the parish mite,
That dog his only guide, he picks,
Groping in fear, those wretched sticks.
But soon will such small gleanings end.—
Thou, Needwood, wast the poor man's friend!

Garden of Nature! on whose face
Contended fragrance, bloom, and grace;
Kind nurse of her abundant good
To human wants, from herb or wood,
Though seem the withering winds less rude
Than thoughtless man's ingratitude;
Not all thy children droop forlorn,
Hurl'd from magnificence to scorn.
You, fox-gloves, through the varying year
Fresh, vigorous, and countless here,
You, happy fox-gloves, as you fell,
In triumph clos'd each purple bell;
Proud that the bark of fam'd Peru
Was rival'd, British plant, by you.
Philosophy and Science rare
Had pitied Dropsy's sad despair,
And pour'd your healing treasure forth;
While their own Bard extol'd your worth;
Poet and Sage: hence doubly shine
Your honours on Hygiea's shrine,
Where pleas'd Apollo stoop'd to yield
To Darwin's hands his lyre and shield.

Again, to save this fair domain,
A Vernon strove, but strove in vain;
And many a noble heart was warm
The fell devourer's rage to charm;
But mean Self-interest lit the flame,
Blind Furies fann'd; and Ruin came.

Yet Lin-brook prattles, in her pride,
Of ancient scenery on her side,
Calls, where her beauties still prevail,
To Byrkley Bowers and Yoxall Dale,
Boasts of deep shades and allies green,
And bids me mark that Forest mien,
Pleas'd, in this circlet, to secure
Her injur'd parent's miniature;
And fain would cheer me, as she leads
By cultur'd banks to verdant meads;
And spreads her mirrors to reflect
How Nature's hand-maid, Art, hath deck'd
The matron here, with choicest bloom;
Ah, garlands now for Needwood's tomb!

Lin-brook! protected child and heir,
Enjoy thy patrimony fair;
And ever in thy favour'd bound,
Prosperity and Peace be found.
Yet long wilt thou lament the change
Of herds and flocks, that near thee range,
More loudly to thy rushes chide,
Since comes no doe her fawn to hide;
And long thy murmuring stream will shrink,
When stoops the stranger ewe to drink;
And long those oaks destruction spar'd,
Grieve for the greatness once they shar'd,
And sigh, while ages hence appear
The tracks of their remember'd deer,
And scatter, careless, to the wind,
Fruits, for their Autumn feast design'd.

Thus, when that Giant of the world
Thy nobles from their honours hurl'd,
Oh France! a few, to fate resign'd,
All lost, but dignity of mind,
Still on the general wreck abide,
Terror and tyranny beside,
And privileg'd in fall'n estate,
Walk humbly with the power they hate,
Regretful of their happier times,
And sighing o'er a nation's crimes.

Yet Byrkley Bowers, your Emma's art
Such sweet delusion can impart,
Such truth her curious pencil gives,
That Needwood in its magic lives.
O, haste to catch, ingenious maid,
His remnant beauties ere they fade:
So to th' admiring world be shown
Fair forms, accomplish'd, like your own!

Though aptly might these dells retain
Wild fancy and her sylvan train,
I ask no fabled nymph to lend
Her idle aid, as I descend;
I seek not such attendants here;
But hail your presence and revere,
Truth, Genius, Science! — Yoxall Dale,
'Mong Forest Walks distinguish'd, hail!
Enough, that future times will say:
'Here Gisborne penn'd his moral lay,
'Practis'd the duties he enjoin'd,
'Led and instructed human kind,
'Here the high paths of Nature trod,
'And saw and glorified her God.'

Majestic hollies! many a year
Your lopp'd limbs fed the pining deer;
And many a year, your growth renew'd,
In venerable solitude,
With arch and column, here you stood,
As once the Temple of the Wood.
The seasons wrought not on your form;
You bent not to the battering storm;
Arrested on each shrouded brow,
No wanton sunbeams play'd below.—
Respected veterans! favourite glade!
Oft, as I pac'd your pensive shade,
Rapt meditation mus'd in prayer;
Or self-indulgence soften'd care.—
These, Needwood, thy destroyers saw
And seiz'd, uncheck'd by shame or awe!

Fair Virgin! in that hallow'd gloom,
While the bell knoll'd thee to thy tomb,
I chose a polish'd trunk to mark
Thy memory on its yielding bark:
As held in reverence profound,
The grove was motionless around,
Save that an ivy's straggling leaf
Shook in the breathings of my grief;
Pity look'd on through starting tears,
Numbering too soon thy transient years;
Lorn Loves, that knew thee well, were by;
And Sorrow with reverted eye.
Yes; 'thou wast all that youth admires,
A parent seeks, or friend desires!'

Ah, if yet spar'd, to that lone shrine
Direct me, some remaining sign!
Or whispering airs instruct to find,
Soft as ye kiss the swelling rind!
Or gentle red-breast hop before!—
No; those retirements are no more:—
See the griev'd wood-dove on her flight!
And the scar'd owlet lost in light!

Hark! the same bell! — take, sister bier,
Affection's sigh and friendship's tear!
These for ourselves: — for thee, blest shade!
Amply thy debt of life was paid;
And gentle, as that life, thy fall;—
Rest, honour'd as belov'd by all!
Rest, while the parting Virtues bear
For heaven's approof, thy record fair!
In yonder cloud that lowers above,
Darkening the cheerful face of Dove,
Their white plumes glimmer to the eye,
And radiant arms extend on high.

Yes, Holly-Bush! — endeared spot!
Forsaken long, but ne'er forgot!
Yes, Holly-Bush! through all disguise
I know thee, but with watery eyes!
With thee what warm emotions start!
What passions press upon my heart!
Quick rushes my own change to view;
And wounds, yet tender, bleed anew.
I come not now to treasur'd sweets;
Blank my approach; no welcome greets;
No lifted sash, no smiling face
Salutes me, joyous from the chace;
No ready grooms my call await;
Leaps on its hinge no friendly gate;
Not for my meal that kitchen's blaze;—
Thy people on a stranger gaze;
And, for the fox-hound cow'ring bland,
Bays the fierce house-dog at his stand.
Yet, as my doubtful step withdraws,
Fresh memories plead for longer lause;
While mixes with each faint farewell
What only struggling sighs can tell.

Yes, Holly-Brush! here fled too fast
Fair hours, most valued now they're past.
But not, in my regard, import
These structures of a prouder sort;
And former fondness ill can brook
This order'd dress and inland look;
Thy flowery copse and bowers make room
For alien shrubs and new perfume;
Thy meek rill swells with glaring brim;
Thy rude paths march through gardens trim;
Ah, here no unambitious brow,
Nor my contented dwelling now!

But thee I find, familiar Tree!
Extend thy friendly canopy!
Ah! know me, sooth me, in my age,
And cheer this mournful pilgrimage!

Hall! Whose kind arm is stretch'd between
The spoiler and yon Forest scene,
Its green vale with its wooded banks,
(And Needwood's honour owes thee thanks)
Save too this suppliant at thy door,
O save my spreading Sycamore!
It gave my window breezes sweet,
And shelter when the tempest beat;
It fann'd the Lares on my hearth;
Or hush'd disturbance from their mirth.
When wild bees humm'd its boughs among,
Or cooing stock-dove watch'd her young,
Oft have I sat beneath its shade,
And bless'd my children, as they play'd.
Ah! let not Taste, with upstart pride,
This old domestic thrust aside;
This relic, generous owner, spare
To Needwood's earliest poet's prayer:
So prosper here thy fair designs;
So Beauty lend thee her own lines;
So here all social Pleasures throng;
And sweet Enjoyment flourish long!

Revered Swilcar! kingly Oak!
I'll spar'd from thee th' assassin's stroke.
How brilliant was thy sylvan court!
Of sons and subjects proud resort:
Here stately rang'd in close array;
There lightly group'd on carpets gay:
Attendant hollies glow'd beneath,
All arm'd; their crest a woodbine wreath:
In safety skipp'd the dappled herds;
Securely perch'd the choiring birds;
O'er charter'd ground thy sacred head,
Where age had whiten'd many a stem,
And plac'd an antler'd diadem.

Horrid! — I see thee far — defac'd—
In fetters on a dreary waste,
With outstretch'd arms and bosom bare,
Appealing to the troubled air;
Yet taxing not the pelting storm;
But those, more cruel, who deform
Thy rich retreats, thy turf defile
With fence, and road, and uses vile;
Nor of the whole, which Nature gave,
Leave thee enough to make thy grave,
When comes, as come it must, thy fall,
Lear of the Forest, robb'd of all!

Enough; and from my trembling hand
Drops the sad lyre.— Abused Land,
Take my last strains! in happier days
I tun'd my rude horn to thy praise;
And (all I wish'd) the friends I lov'd
Those unassuming notes approv'd;
And some, with strength beyond its own,
In sweeter echoes cheer'd the tone;
To swell this tear, which sorrow drew,
Do they remain? — alas, how few!

Swilcar! from thee a wither'd bough
Will best become my temples now.
And pendant here my shell I leave
Mournfully mute; save when, at eve,
While Silence lists on brooding wings,
Soft airs shall brush the murmuring strings:
So still be fond complaint preferr'd,
Its master's voice no longer heard!

Then haply some, who wander near
Musing, may lend a partial ear;
And if thy venerable age,
And awful size their hearts engage,
If Nature's wood-wild walks they love,
If violated grandeur move,
Ah, will not indignation rise,
As Fancy views, with weeping eyes,
Nymphs, Satyrs, Fauns, in cheerless row,
And Dian with a broken bow;
Hears Druid's groan and Dryad's shriek
Oft through the moonlight stillness break,
Yon prison'd cliffs their griefs repeat,
Dove howling hoarsely at their feet?

Region! — I lov'd thee at my heart —
Farewell! — for ever now we part.
Forest, farewell! — delighted Time
Thee would have spar'd in endless prime;
Me, as he shakes my ebbing sands,
While MORTAL LIFE her roll expands,
Me, feebly bending o'er thy tomb,
He beckons to her COMMON HOME.—
Ah, human weakness! may a name,
Aspiring to no splendid fame,
Live, yet a little, in my SONGS

Needwood Forest

Part I.

Needwood! if e'er my early voice
Hath taught thy echoes to rejoice;
If e'er my hounds in opening cry
Have fill'd thy banks with ecstasy;
If e'er array'd in cheerful green
Our train hath deck'd thy wintry scene;
Ere yet thy wood-wild walks I leave,
My tributary verse receive:
With thy own wreath my brows adorn,
And to thy praises tune my horn!

What green rob'd Nymph, all loose her hair,
With buskin'd leg, and bosom bare,
Steps lightly down the turfy glades,
And beckons tow'rd yon op'ning shades? —
No harlot-form, dissembling guile
With wanton air and painted smile,
Lures to enchanted halls or bowers,
Where festive Vice consumes his hours.
Her mild and modest looks dispense
The simple charms of innocence;
And a sweet wildness in her eye
Sparkles with young sincerity. —
Lead on fair guide, ere wakes the dawn,
With thee I'll climb the steepy lawn,
With thee the leafy labyrinths trace,
Where dwells the Genius of the place. —
His large limbs press a primrose bed,
A moss-grown root sustains his head,
And, list'ning to the Druid's rhimes,
He bends his eye on distant times:
While troops of sylvan Vassals meet
To cast their garlands at his feet,
And pipe and frisk in rings about,
Or parley with the hunter's shout.
And now a fragrant shower he throws
Of blossoms from his curled brows,
And rising waves his oaken wand,
And bids yon magic scenes expand! —

First blush the hills with orient light,
And pierce the sable veil of night,
Green bends the waving shade above,
And glist'ring dew-drops gem the grove:
Next shine the shelving lawns around,
Bright threads of silver net the ground;
And down, the entangled brakes among
The white rill sparkling winds along:
Then, as the pausing zephyrs breathe,
The billowy mist recedes beneath;
Slow, as it rolls away, unfold
The vale's fresh glories, green and gold;
Dove laughs, and shakes his tresses bright,
And trails afar a line of light.

Now glows the illumin'd landscape round!
Ye Vulgar hence! — 'tis sacred ground!
Hence to the flimsy walks of art,
That lull, but not transport the heart.
Nature, O Muse, here sits alone,
And marks these regions for thy own;
Here her variety of joys
Nor season bounds, nor change destroys:
Be mine the pride, though weak my strains,
That first I woo'd thee to these plains;
Where Spring, in all her beauty drest,
But promises a brighter guest:
Where Summer yields her greens and flowers
To Autumn's variegated bowers:
Smiles Winter, as their honors fall,
And bids his hollies shame them all.

Ye sage Professors of design,
Whom system's stubborn rules confine,
Can science here one blemish show?
Or one deficient grace bestow?
Emes, who yon desart wild explor'd,
And to its name the scene restor'd;
Whose art is nature's law maintain'd,
Whose order negligence restrain'd,
Here, fir'd by native beauty, trac'd
The footsteps of the Goddess, Taste:
Won from her coy retreats she came,
And led him up these paths to fame.

Here every flower improves the gale
From the meek violet of the vale
To her, who flaunts in air sublime,
The woodbine, queen of summer's prime:
While each delicious shade may vie
With those of boasted Arcady.
The sweet varieties appear
Of thickets, shaped by nibbling deer,
Of hills, that swell with gradual ease,
Wood-skirted lawns, and scatter'd trees;
Of vallies, seen down distant glades,
That break the mass of mingling shades;
While nature's attribute extent,
Crowns each inferior ornament!—

On this green unambitious brow,
Fair Mistress of the vale below,
With sloping hills enclos'd around,
Their heads with oaks and hollies crown'd,
With lucky choice, by happy hands,
Plac'd in good hour, my dwelling stands;
And draws the distant trav'ler's eye,
Enamour'd of its scenery;
Where all things give, what all express,
Content and rural happiness.
Where far retir'd from life's dull form,
Comes no intruder but the storm;
The storm, that with contrasted lower
Endears the fair the silent hour.

Thus their wise days our fathers led,
Fleet ran their hounds, their arrows sped,
And jocund Health with rosy smile
Look'd on, companion of their toil;
Till tyrant Law usurp'd the land,
Stretch'd o'er the woods his iron hand,
Forbad the echoing horn to blow,
Maim'd the staunch hound, and snapp'd the bow.

Here with fair peace and modest fame
They dwelt, who boasted Bagot's name.—
Go, Bagot, plead your country's cause,
While senates listen with applause.
With fearless truth and manly sense
Detecting specious eloquence:
Detecting specious eloquence:
Great talents to the world are due,
Retirement were a crime in you:
Go, and receive your oaken crown!
Here, with no title to renown,
Leave me to loiter at my door,
Beneath the spreading sycamore,
That canopies the sloping lawn;
And view the deer, at early dawn,
In troops come winding down the hill
To taste fresh herbage near the rill;
Or count at noon their slumb'ring heaps;
At evening watch their playful leaps;
Or hear the quiring of the grove
Give breath to harmony and love;
Or listen to the hum profound,
In the still air that floats around;
Or mark yon hill's extended side,
Where turf and shade the space divide:
Here the wood straggles tow'rd the plain,
The pasture there prevails again;
The heifer grazes on its brow;
Clamours the rook on trees below;
Gay golden furze and purple ling
Around their mixt embroidery fling,
O'er all, irregularly join'd,
Th' according outline waves behind.

No dusky Cares o'erhang the bower,
No Passions wreck the halcyon hour;
Nurs'd in the shade Reflection springs,
Smooths her white plumes, and tries her wings.
No leaf of autumn falls in vain,
No flower-bell droops beneath the rain,
No bubble down the current flows,
But life's uncertain tenure shows.
Those thorns protect the forest's hopes:
That tree the slender ivy props:
Thus rise the mighty on the mean;
Thus on the strong the feeble lean!
In yonder holly — blush mankind!
A rare fidelity I find;
Like yours though summer's flatteries end,
My winter here hath found a friend.
Hail faithful favorite tree! to you
The Muse shall pay observance due;
Whether in horrent files you stand
Round sappling oaks a guardian band;
Or form aloft a shelt'ring bower
Impervious to the sun or shower;
Whether to yon hill-side you throng
Ranging in various groups along;
Or on the plain, maturely grown,
You boldly brave the storm alone;
Or tapering high, with woodbines hid,
Rise in a fragrant pyramid;
Your vigorous youth with upright shoots,
Your verdant age, your glowing fruits,
Your glossy leaves, and columns gray
Shall live the favorites of my lay!

Alas! in vain with warmth and food
You cheer the songsters of the wood,
The barbarous boy from you prepares
On treacherous twigs his viscous snares.
Yes, the poor bird you nurs'd, shall find
Destruction in your rifled rind.
Thus good and ill too often meet,
And bitter mingles with the sweet!
— Ye pedagogues! let truant youth
Imbibe from you this generous truth;
That one humane, one tender thought
Is worth the whole that schools have taught.

Part II.

With what fond gaze my eye pursues,
Needwood, thy sweetly-varying views!
Satyr, or Nymph, or sylvan God,
A fairer circuit never trod!
Charm'd, as I turn, thy pictures seem
The golden fabrics of a dream,
Where Fiction stands with prism bright,
Rays forth her many-colour'd light,
Dyes the green herb, and purple flower,
Gives glittering lustres to the shower;
Then gilds with livelier tints the sky,
Or bends her radiant bow on high.

To scenes so elegantly wild,
Fancy, of old, her darling child
From Avon's flowery margin brought,
And Arden boasts what Needwood taught.

Such shades by mazy paths perplex'd,
Where strays the traveller inly vex'd,
Inspir'd the Muse of Spencer's pen;
The wandering wood, and Error's den,
Dwarf's, palfreys, dames, and giants rise
Full on Imagination's eyes!
See, see the Sarazin advance!
The Red-cross Knight hath couch'd his lance!
They meet, the Christian wins the field,
And bears away the faithless shield!

With such companions fond to rove,
I venerate each hill and grove,
To Phoebus, as to Dian, dear,
And find a new Parnassus here.
Here might the sacred sisters dwell
By pebbly brook, or gushing well:
O! let me listen, as they sing,
In some close vale, beside a spring,
Whose stream the intruding alder chides,
Where the wild-bees her treasure hides;
Or sit in high inbowering shade
With Contemplation, heav'n-ey'd maid,
Where the scant sun through branches thin
Chequers the dark green floor within;
Where every leaf is wisdom's page,
And each gray trunk a hoary sage.
Nor motion, human form, nor noise
This solemn pause of life destroys;
Save where the playful squirrel bounds,
Or ring-dove peasant lops an oak,
Restraining half his pilfering stroke,
Or with his fagot stoops to rest,
Both by his years and burthen prest.

Here, seen of old, the elfin race
With sprightly vigils mark'd the place;
Their gay processions charm'd the sight,
Gilding the lucid noon of night;
Or, when obscure the midnight hour,
With glow-worm lanterns hung the bower.
— Hark! — the soft lute! along the green
Moves with majestic step the queen.
Attendant Fays around her throng,
And trace the dance or raise the song;
Or touch the shrill reed, as they trip,
With finger light and ruby lip.

High, on her brow sublime is borne
One scarlet woodbine's tremulous horn;
A gaudy bee-bird's triple plume
Sheds on her neck its waving gloom;
With silvery gossamer entwin'd
Stream the luxuriant locks behind.
Thin folds of tangled network break
In airy waves adown her neck:
Warp'd in his loom, the spider spread
The far-diverging rays of thread,
Then round and round with shuttle fine
Inwrought the undulating line.
One rose-leaf forms her crimson vest,
The loose edge crosses o'er her breast.
And one translucent fold, which fell
From the tall lily's ample bell,
Forms with sweet grace her snowy train,
Flows, as she steps, and sweeps the plain.
Silence and Night enchanted gaze,
And Hesper hides his vanquish'd rays!

Now the wak'd reed-birds swell their throats,
And night-larks trill their mingled notes.
Yet hush'd in moss with writhed neck
The black-bird hides his golden beak:
Charm'd from his dream of love he wakes,
Opes his gay eye, his plumage shakes,
And stretching wide each ebon wing,
First in low whispers tries to sing;
Then sounds his clarion loud, and thrills
The moon-bright lawns, and shadowy hills.
Silent the choral Fays attend,
And then their silver voices blend,
Each shining thread of sound prolong,
And weave the magic woof of song.
Pleas'd Philomela takes her stand
On high, and leads the fairy band,
Pours sweet at intervals her strain,
And guides with beating wing the train.
Whilst interrupted zephyrs bear
Hoarse murmurs from the distant wear;
And at each pause is heard the swell
Of Echo's soft symphonious shell.

Nor the dread Night my mind alarms;
Night and her horrors have their charms.
O'er the wide forest oft I roam,
What time the trav'ler far from home,
Bewilder'd in the pathless brakes,
There is cold bed despairing makes;
And hear the fox with savage bark
Pay distant courtship through the dark;
The owl with faltering voice unfold
Her tale, like one who shakes with cold:
And then the alarmed woods resound
Th' upbraidings of the well-train'd hound,
Who with tremendous tongue arraigns
And haunts the plunderer of his plains.
So cries from earth the life-blood spilt;
So waking furies harass guilt!

Oft have I through this solemn glade
Of old dismember'd hollies stray'd,
Whose bold bare rugged brows are seen
Thrust through the mantling evergreen;
Tall clustering columns here ascend,
And there in gothic arches bend;
Whilst, as the silver moonbeams rise,
Imagin'd temples strike my eyes,
With tottering spire, and mouldering wall,
And high roof nodding to its fall.
His lantern gleaming down the glade,
One, like a sexton with his spade,
Comes, from their caverns to exclude
The midnight prowlers of the wood;
Through fields of air while pausing slow,
Yon death-bell tells the village woe!

Borne on her clouds when Darkness flings
O'er the still air her raven wings,
Ere yet the watery freight descends,
While Heaven its purposes suspends,
Night, let me stand in silent trance,
And watch the lightning's kindling glance;
While, stiff'ning at the imaging'd stroke,
Appears behind a brighten'd oak,
From justice fled to this wild place,
A conscious robber's ghastly face:
Or fancy views with fear-fix'd eye
A mangled spectre gliding by,
Quick with the flash who seems to wave
His pale hand, beck'ning to a grave;
And, as the fleeting vision dies,
Loud thunders shake the closing skies.

Night! when rude blasts thy scenes deform,
O place me in the perilous storm!
While the moon labouring through the clouds
By turns her light reveals and shrouds;
Torn from its trunk, when whirlwinds bear
The twisted ash aloft in air;
And some vast elm's uprooted spoil
Ploughs in its headlong fall the soil:
While as he stalks through groaning oaks,
At intervals the old deer croaks;
And the lean sow with paps drawn dry,
O'er rustling leaves trots whining by.

Then posts across the blasted plain,
Borne on the wild storm, Witchcraft's train,
Aghast with guilt, and shrunk with age,
And yelling with demoniac rage.
With eyes turn'd back malign and wide
See blood-stain'd Murder silent stride;
A moonbeam's sudden light expands;
He starts, and hides his crimson hands!
And now the cauldron gleams afar,
Fired by a baneful meteor's glare;
Around they dance, they pause, and pour
The mischiefs of the midnight hour;
While trembling fiends with wonder gaze,
Stretch their black wings and fan the blaze!

Part III.

Ere Night withdraws her starry train,
I print long traces o'er the plain,
And bend my eyes to yon bright East
To meet the Morning's radiant guest,
As o'er the hill his golden rays
Burst through the thicket in a blaze.
Now from my foot the startled fawn
Bounds to its parent on the lawn;
And the wak'd lark exulting springs,
Hangs high in air on quivering wings,
Chaunts his loud transports o'er the heath,
And eyes his listening loves beneath.

Oft shall my Talbot hither stray,
And friendship give new joys to day;
On him his blooming bride attend,
Hither her graceful footsteps bend;
Fresh life her brighter beauties fling
O'er the young dawn and blossom'd spring.

They come! their eddying wheels resound;
The harness'd coursers proudly bound;
The light-hung chariot floats in air,
And laughing Hymen wreaths the pair:
As o'er the daisy'd lawns they move
By glittering rill or dusky grove,
Old Needwood calls his softest gale,
Bids all his fragrant buds exhale:
His gazing herds around them throng,
His plighted birds suspend their song;
Each on her urn his Naiads lean,
And Wood-nymphs peep from allies green.

Where this gay mount o'erlooks the wood,
Charm'd with the scene a monarch stood,
Call'd these fair plains the richest gem
That deck'd his splendid diadem;
Awhile the cares of state forgot,
And with its name adorn'd the spot.

Down yon meridian fields afar
When Mercia led her chiefs to war,
Fell in one hour three monarchs brave,
And Lichfield's bower protects their grave.
Her stately spires amidst the skies
Ting'd by the orient sun arise,
With golden vanes invite the gale, —
Triumphant ladies of the vale!

Down yon mid-vale the British Nile,
Fair Dove, comes winding many a mile;
And from his copious urn distils
The fatness of a thousand hills.
Swell, generous river! leave thy banks,
The thirsty soil shall give thee thanks!
The generous river swells, and leads
His waters o'er impoverish'd meads,
And lays his ample treasure down,
Rich emblem of thy bounty, Brown!

Pleas'd on yon high abode I gaze,
Whence C'andish foaming Dove surveys:
And where those humbler vales extend
Of thine Fitzherbert, cheerful friend:
Or mark upon yon round ascent
The social flag and open tent,
Where life's smooth paths with sweets are strown,
And mirth makes every hour its own.

Where spreads this grove its umbrage wide
Late the bold Outlaw fought and died.
Oft in its dark recess the oak
Had fall'n beneath his secret stroke;
Full many a deer the night's dim ray
Beheld his silent arrow slay;
Deep furze conceal'd the fawns in vain,
And lust of lucre thinn'd the plain.
Here, by no power before controll'd,
He met a forester as bold;
O'er their fierce conflict frown'd the wood,
And drank with thirsty roots his blood.

Yon bank demands a pitying look,
Where life a gentler breast forsook;
Sole comfort of an aged pair!
The true-love of a damsel fair! —
At prime of dawn he stepp'd away;
Long was the journey, short the day;
The wint'ry blast blew loud and chill;
Night caught him on the unshelter'd hill;
Fatigued he fell; no help came nigh;
His faithful dog alone was by;
Who, as he fondly lick'd his cheek,
Heard his expiring master speak:
'Heap not for me thy cottage-fire;
'Cold grows my heart, unhappy sire!
'But turn to my unfinish'd loom,
'And weave the web, and bear it home!
'Prepare not, dame, my evening meal,
'But bid them ring my passing peal!
'Deck not thyself, dear maid, to meet
'Thy love, but bring his winding sheet!
'I come not to your festive cheer,
'Ye comrades, place me on my bier!'
The morrow found him stiff and pale:
Mournful the Muse recounts his tale.

Her stately tower there Hanbury rears,
Which proudly looks o'er distant shires;
Down the chill slop and darken'd glade
Projects afar its length of shade,
Assails the skies with giant force,
And checks the whirlwind in its course;
Or, when black clouds involve the pole,
Disarms the thunders, as they roll;
Beneath, how Nature throws around
Grant inequalities of ground,
While down the dells and o'er the steeps
The wavy line of Paphos creeps!

With awful sorrow I behold
Yon cliff, that frowns with ruins old;
Stout Ferrers there kept faithless ward,
And Gaunt perform'd his castle-guard.
There captive Mary look'd in vain
For Norfolk, and her nuptial train;
Enrich'd with royal tears the Dove,
But sigh'd for freedom, not for love.
'Twas once the seat of festive state,
Where high born dames and nobles sat;
While Minstrels, each in order heard,
Their venerable songs preferr'd.
False memory of its state remains
In the rude sport of brutal swains.
Now serpents hiss, and foxes dwell
Amidst the mouldering citadel;
And time but spares those broken towers
In mockery of human powers.

Yon hill, that glows with southern rays,
All-conscious of superior praise,
Swells her smooth top and pastures green,
And of her sisters seems the queen;
Proud from her ancient seats to trace
The lineage of a generous race.
'That generous race,' fair Sudbury cries,
'Is mine,' and bids her turrets rise,
Lifts from the lap of peace her dome,
Where finds Munificence a home;
Then wide her shining lake she leads
Through blossom'd groves and emerald meads,
Clothes with dark woods the distant scene,
And pours her dappled herds between.
— Ah me! what sudden sadness lowers
O'er her fair front and vernal bowers!
There sinks to her untimely tomb
A virgin flower in beauty's bloom!
O thou wast all that youth admires,
A parent loves, or friend desires!
I knew thee well! my sorrowing heart
Bears in thy loss a bitter part!
Whilst the sad Muse in plaintive verse
Strews all her flowers around thy hearse,
Let Pity quit thy grave, and go
A mourner to yon house of woe:
There from thy father's bosom break
Sighs, which too eloquently speak:
Thy mother weeps, but weeps resign'd,
In all things noble, most in mind:
Pale griefs thy sisters' cheeks invade;
And one, alas, too tender maid!
Holds a long melancholy strife
Betwixt her sorrows and her life:
Thy manly brothers strive to cure
In vain, the pangs themselves endure.
Fair Saint! a happier lot is thine,
Reposed beneath the silent shrine!

Now let me seek in pensive mood
The rude recesses of thw ood;
And, where congenial gloom extends,
Think of lost hopes and distant friends;
Of scenes, whose pleasures fled too fast,
And hours, most valued now they're past.

Beside me lies a dingle deep,
With shaggy banks abrupt and steep;
Through vistas wild my course I bend,
Till daylight opens at the end;
Where from intoxicating height
Bursts the wide prospect on my sight.
The terrace bold, on which I stand,
Steps broad and forward on the land;
Rude hills compose the sidelong scene,
With crofts and cottages between;
The various landscape onward spreads
O'er cultur'd plains and verdant meads;
And seats, and towns, and hamlets rise,
Where yon smoke curls into the skies,
And spires, that pierce through tufted trees;
Till, faintly fading by degrees,
Beyond, in wild confusion tost,
The hills' blue tops in clouds are lost.

Yes, Eaton-Banks! in vain I strive
To hide the grief your oaks revive:
Bow thy tall branches, grateful wood!
Afford me blossom, leaf, and bud:
He, for whose memory these I blend,
Thy late-lost master, was my friend.
Fall, gentle dews! fresh zephyrs breathe!
Spread, cooling shades! preserve my wreath!—
Alas, it withers ere its time!
So faded he in manly prime!
But Virtue, scorning friendship's aid,
Rears her own palms, which never fade.

Part IV.

Henry, O leave, whilst youth is ours,
And health leads on the fleeting hours,
O leave awhile the court you grace,
And urge with me the sylvan chase!

Oft, as I bathe in morning's breath,
Ere wakes the plover on the heath,
Ere the sun robs the woodbine's smell,
Or dries the fox-glove's purple bell,
I hear the deep-mouth'd thunder rise;—
The monarch of the woodland flies,
Whilst the loud triumphs of the horn
On breezy wings are backward borne.
His subject mates no succour lend;
What tyrant ever found a friend?
He dies! — the satiate echoes cease;
The forest reassumes its peace.

Now sun-burnt Autumn with his spoils
Diana's bleeding altar piles:
Again the slaughtering gun is heard,
And wildly screams the parent bird;
All night she mourns her lessen'd brood,
Still views them fluttering in their blood,
With timorous call the rest collects,
And with quick wing their flight directs.
Now the strong buck his rival drives,
And awes with jealous threats his wives:
Slow move the kine to fresher fields;
The hawthorn to the holly yields:
No twittering swallow skims the plain,
No shrite-cock tunes his echoing strain:
Dumb are the full-plum'd songsters, all,
Save the lone redbreast on my wall;
Thy tender lay, sweet bird, prolong,
And sooth old Winter with thy song!

When wintry mists obscure the skies,
His busy nose the spaniel plies,
Where mossy glades and thickets brown
Tempt the far-wandering woodcock down:
Stretch thy strong wing, thy flight retake,
Nor trust the inhospitable brake! —
Ah, forc'd from the luxuriant ground,
He mounts, and feels the sudden wound.
So trans-meridian Zealand views
Adventurous Europe's wandering crews:
Fierce hunger eyes the stranger-guest,
And fraud secures the barbarous feast;
Stain'd are the rocks with human gore,
And white with scatter'd bones the shore.

The leveret — but I spare the rest,
I see compassion touch thy breast —
Come then, and whilst the murderous crew
In harmless blood their hands imbrue,
Rous'd to revenge by ravag'd flocks,
Haste we to find the kennell'd fox.
Hark! those preluding cries he hears;
Thick beats his heart with conscious fears.
Some tyrant thus, in luckless hour
Whom fraud or force has rais'd to power,
With throbbing heart and pale eye stands,
And spreads to heaven his harpy hands,
When Freedom's voice alarms the morn,
And Vengeance winds her echoing horn.
See, with the wind he scours away
Sleek, and in crimes grown old and gray!
Once has he foil'd our angry pack,
I know his customary track.
Talk not of pity to such foes!
Stern justice claims the life he owes.
No storms arise to screen his flight;
'Tis long till interrupting night;
The breathing South his sentence gives —
No, not an hour the caitiff lives!
Through woods, and hills, and vales, and brakes,
Needwood with general transport shakes.
Mark how the pack diffusely spread,
And show me, if you can, their head!
'Tis here — 'tis there — now onward far
Streams down the vales irregular.
As through the furzy brakes they drive,
The trembling coverts seem alive.
Thus by the winds o'er bending corn
Loose waves of light and shade are borne.
Now winding up yon steep they strain;
Now wheel in silence on the plain;
Again they catch the tainted wind;
No hound disgraceful lurks behind;
All striving with confederate aim,
Their size, their power, their speed the same,
With eager eye and clamorous tongue
In broad career they press along,
Fierce on their victim gathering round: —
He suffers by no single wound!
Thus o'er the azure fields of night
Shoot the quick rays of northern light,
To one bright point converg'd they flow,
And round the silver zenith glow.
So, when a lake, surcharg'd by rain,
Bursts, and o'erwhelms the sloping plain,
The wond'ring rustic flies, nor knows
Which of its currents fastest flows;
Now here the rattling eddies lead,
Now there they foam along the mead,
Till in a silent pool they stand,
Collected on the hollow land.

Go languid fops, go pedants, waste
Your sneers on joys you cannot taste;
And cloak with many a vain pretence
Cold-blooded fear and indolence!

Warm to each elegant delight,
Ingenious, sensible, polite,
Known to the world you know so well,
Lov'd e'en by those whom you excel,
Meynell, my leader and my friend,
Stand forth! the manly chase defend!
O raise your animating voice,
And cheer the Dian of your choice!
Not her, whose foul Circean draught
'Squires of preceding ages quaff'd,
Unletter'd reveller, whose joys
Were rudeness, turbulence, and noise,
But her, no less of British kind,
Well-bred, intelligent, refin'd,
Of younger years and purer mould,
Chaste as the Huntress Queen of old.

Yes, I am thine, enchanting maid!
Come, in thy decent robes array'd!
O bring thy blithe companion, Health,
Who smiles, and mocks the sluggard Wealth;
And Hope, who spleen and care destroys;
And Rapture scorning tamer joys;
Young Eagerness with kindling eyes;
And Triumph mingling jocund cries!

Come, as thy cheerful train is seen,
Where Foremark waves his woodlands green;
When hears his vale thy matin song,
And Trent exulting shouts along;
While wait, thy gay return to greet,
Convivial Mirth and Welcome sweet.—
On me, thy humbler votary shower
The balmy dews of every flower,
Which oft thy curious hand has twin'd
Thy Burdett's favour'd brows to bind!

Part V.

Whence, Needwood, that tremendous sound!—
Low dying murmurs run around,
A deeper gloom the wood receives,
And horror shivers on the leaves,
Loud shrieks the hern, the raven croaks —
Destruction's arm arrests thy oaks!
Onward with giant strides he towers,
Dooms with dread voice thy withering bowers,
High o'er his head the broad axe wields,
Stamps with his iron foot, and shakes the fields!

When from her lawless rocks and sands
Arabia pours her ruffian bands,
The village hinds in wild distress
Around some holy hermit press,
Orb within orb, their wrongs declare,
And ask his counsel and his prayer;
All white with age, inspir'd he stands,
And lifts to heaven his wrinkled hands:
So seems the affrighted forest, drawn
In crowds around this lonely lawn:
High in the midst with many a frown
Huge Swilcar shakes his tresses brown,
Outspreads his bare arms to the skies,
The ruins of six centuries.
Deep groans pervade his rifted rind —
— He speaks his bitterness of mind.
'Your impious hands, barbarians, hold!
'Ye pause — but fir'd with lust of gold,
'Your leader lifts his axe, and like
'Accursed Julius, bids you strike.
'Talk not of Country, — 'tis for self
'The deed is done; — its purpose pelf.
'Pretend not glory on The Main,
'Ye are no Chusers of the slain!
'My chieftains would rejoice to brave,
'At Britain's call, the wide world's wave;
'But ye nor youth nor beauty spare:
'Ah when will Avarice forbear?
'Farewell alike to grove and copse!
'The nursling with its parent drops!
'Prepare your berries and your flowers,
'For your own funerals, destin'd bowers!
'Soon stretch'd in death will all be laid,
'Sad'ning the lawns they lov'd to shade,
'Offerings for Mammon, rang'd and stor'd,
'With rites of sacrifice abhorr'd;
'While he, with demon grasp and smile,
'Rolls his broad eyes from pile to pile!
'In freedom's dearest days I grew,
'And Henry's jealous nobles knew;
'I saw them pierce the bounding game;
'And heard their horn announce the claim.
'Fair was my youth and prosperous; Time
'Crown'd the rich promise of my prime.
'Through many a king's age I have stood,
'Father and wonder of the wood;
'Myself a king: in peace I reign'd;
'Happy the homage I obtain'd.
'Ah, who but turn'd him from his way,
'To contemplate, with aw'd surprise,
'My state, my annals, and my size?
'What cottage swain and village maid,
'List'ning the cooings of the glade,
'But came their plighted troth to mark,
'With reverence, on my faithful bark?
'Beauty and pleasantness around
'Satiety, rejoicing, found.
'Now, sad reverse! disorder, fright,
'Usurp these regions of delight.
'Falls all my glory with my groves,
'And all that wild retirement loves.
'No tall-perch'd thrush will cheer my morn;
'No high-wood echoes meet the horn;
'No squirrels climb, and peep, and play;
'Where shall the deer his ripe head fray?
'Alone — insulting o'er my moan,
'The threat'ning winds howl 'aye alone!'
'Alone, dishonor'd and expos'd,
'In sorrow will my days be clos'd!
'Ha! here no phantom, dovelike Hope
'Cleaves with glad wings yon clouds aslope,
'Seeks my top branch, her plumage spreads,
'O'er my shrunk groves her life-beam sheds.
'And now a guardian arm appears;
'A guardian voice the forest cheers;
'My children catch the kind decree,
'Start from their murderers and are free.

'Yes, Joy shall see these scenes renew'd,
'Shall wake her sister Gratitude,
'Shall call on lawns, and hills, and dells
'The silent echoes from their cells,
'Long trains of golden years proclaim,
'And Needwood ring with Vernon's name.'

He ceas'd, and shook his hoary brow:
Glad murmurs fill the vale below,
The deer in gambols bound along,
The plighted birds resume their song.

Thrice-venerable Druid, hail!
O may thy sacred words prevail;
May Needwood's oaks successive stand
The lasting wonder of the land! —
And may some powerful bard arise,
Though heaven to me that power denies,
The Pope or Denham of his days,
Whose lofty verse shall match their praise.