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Sweet Auburn! loveliest village of the plain,
The never-failing brook, the busy mill,
up their sports beneath the spreading tree, While
many a pastime circled in the shade, The
young contending, as the old survey'd ; And
many a gambol frolick’d o'er the ground, And sleights of art, and feats of strength went round. And still, as each repeated pleasure tired, Succeeding sports the mirthful band inspired : The dancing pair that simply sought renown, By holding out, to tire each other down; The swain mistrustless of his smutted face, While secret laughter titter'd round the place; The bashful virgin's sidelong looks of love, The matron's glance, that would those looks reprove. These were thy charms, sweet village! sports like
these, With sweet succession, taught e'en toil to please;
These round thy bowers their cheerful influence shed, These were thy charms—but all these charms are fled.
Sweet smiling village, loveliest of the lawn, Thy sports are fled, and all thy charms withdrawn; Amidst thy bowers the tyrant's hand is seen, And desolation saddens all thy green: One only master grasps the whole domain, And half a tillage stints thy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, choked with sedges, works its weedy way; Along thy glades, a solitary guest, The hollow-sounding bittern guards its nest ; Amidst 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 mouldering 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 labour spread her wholesome store, Just gave
what life required, 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 luxury 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 graced the peaceful scene, Lived 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, Amidst thy tangling walks, and ruin'd grounds, And, many a year elapsed, 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 shareI still had hopes, my latest hours to crown, Amidst 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, Amidst the swains to shew 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 pass’d, 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 labour 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;