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cepts relative to changes of weather and seasons. Particular care of new-fallen lambs. The advantages and security of the English shepherd above those in hotter or colder climates; exemplified with respect to Lapland, Italy, Greece, and Arabia. Of sheep-shearing. Song on that occasion. Custom in Wales of sprinkling the rivers with flowers. Sheep-shearing feast and merriments on the banks of the Severn.
THE care of sheep, the labours of the loom,
And arts of trade, I sing. Ye rural nymphs,
Ye swains, and princely merchants, aid the verse.
And ye, high-trusted guardians of our isle,
Whom public voice approves, or lot of birth
To the great charge assigns: ye good, of all
Degrees, all sects, be present to my song.
So may distress, and wretchedness, and want,
The wide felicities of labour learn:
So may the proud attempts of restless Gaul
From our strong borders, like a broken wave,
In empty foam retire. But chiefly thou,
The people's shepherd, eminently plac'd
Over the numerous swains of every vale,
With well-permitted power, and watchful eye,
On each gay field to shed beneficence,
Celestial office! thou protect the song.
On spacious airy downs, and gentle bills,
With grass and thyme o'erspread, and clover wild,
Where smiling Phoebus tempers every breeze,
The fairest flocks rejoice. They, nor of halt,
Hydropic tumours, nor of rot, complain;
Evils deform'd and foul: nor with hoarse cough
Disturb the music of the pastoral pipe;
But, crowding to the note, with silence soft
The close-woven carpet graze; where Nature blends
Flowrets and herbage of minutest size,
Innoxious luxury. Wide airy downs
Are Health's gay walks to shepherd and to sheep.
All arid soils, with sand, or chalky flint,
Or shells diluvian mingled; and the turf,
That mantles over rocks of brittle stone,
Be thy regard: and where low-tufted broom,
Or box, or berry'd juniper arise;
Or the tall growth of glossy-rinded beech;
And where the burrowing rabbit turns the dust;
And where the dappled deer delights to bound.
Such are the downs of Banstead, edg'd with
And towery villas; such Dorcestrian fields,
Whose flocks innumerous whiten all the land:
Such those slow-climbing wilds, that lead the step
Insensibly to Dover's windy cliff,
Tremendous height and such the clover'd lawns
And sunny mounts of beauteous Normanton',
Health's cheerful haunt, and the selected walk
Of Heathcote's leisure: such the spacious plain
Of Sarum, spread like Ocean's boundless round,
Where solitary Stonehenge, gray with moss,
Ruin of ages, nods: such too the leas
And ruddy tilth, which spiry Ross beholds,
From a green hillock, o'er her lofty elms;
And Lemster's brooky tract, and airy Croft 2;
And such Harleian Eywood's 3 swelling turf,
Wav'd as the billows of a rolling sea:
And Shobden 4, for its lofty terrace fam'd,
Which from a mountain's ridge, elate o'er woods
And girt with all Siluria5, sees around
Regions on regions blended in the clouds.
Pleasant Siluria, land of various views,
Hills, rivers, woods, and lawns, and purple groves
Pomaceous, mingled with the curling growth
Of tendril hops, that flaunt upon their poles,
More airy wild than vines along the sides
Of treacherous Falernum 6; or that hill
Vesuvius, where the bowers of Bacchus rose,
And Herculanean and Pompeian domes.
But if thy prudent care would cultivate
Leicestrian fleeces, what the sinewy arm
Combs through the spiky steel in lengthen'd flakes;
Rich saponaceous loam, that slowly drinks
The blackening shower, and fattens with the
Or marle with clay deep-mix'd be then thy choice,
Of one consistence, one complexion, spread
Through all thy glebe; where no deceitful veins
Of envious gravel lurk beneath the turf,
To loose the creeping waters from their springs,
Tainting the pasturage: and let thy fields
In slopes descend and mount, that chilling rains
May trickle off, and hasten to the brooks.
Yet some defect in all on Earth appears;
All seek for help, all press for social aid.
Too cold the grassy mantle of the marle,
In stormy winter's long and dreary nights,
For eumbent sheep; from broken slumber oft
They rise, benumb'd, and vainly shift the couch;
Their wasted sides their evil plight declare.
Hence, tender in his care, the shepherd swain
Seeks cach contrivance. Here it would avail,
At a meet distance from the upland ridge,
To sink a trench, and on the hedge-long bank
Sow frequent sand, with lime, and dark manure;
Which to the liquid element will yield
A porous way, a passage to the foe.
Plough not such pastures: deep in spungy grass
The oldest carpet is the warmest lair,
And soundest; in new herbage coughs are heard.
Nor love too frequent shelter: such as decks
The vale of Severn, Nature's garden wide,
By the blue steeps of distant Malvern wall'd
Solemnly vast. The trees of various shade,
Scene behind scene, with fair delusive pomp
Enrich the prospect, but they rob the lawns.
Nor prickly bramble, white with woolly theft,
Should tuft thy fields. Applaud not the remiss
Dimetians, who, along their mossy dales,
Consume, like grasshoppers, the summer hour;
While round them stubborn thorns and furze in-
5 Siluria, the part of England which lies west of the Severn, viz. Herefordshire, Monmouthshire, &c.
6 Treacherous Falernum, because part of the hills of Falernum was many years ago overturned by an eruption of fire, and is now a high and
A seat of sir John Heathcote in Rutlandshire. barren mount of cinders, called Monte Novo.
2 A seat of sir Archer Croft.
3 A seat of the earl of Oxford.
7 Malvern, a high ridge of hills near Worcester.
Dimetia, Caermarthenshire in South Wales.
Their dust saline upon the deepening grass :
Aud oft with labour-strengthen'd arm he de!v'd
The draining trench across his verdant slopes,
To intercept the small meandring rills
Of upper hamlets: haughty trees, that sour
The shaded grass, that weaken thorn-set mounds,
And harbour villain crows, he rare allow'd:
Only a slender tuft of useful ash,
And mingled beech and elm, securely tall,
The little smiling cottage warm embower'd;
The little smiling cottage, where at eve
He meets his rosy children at the door,
Prattling their welcomes, and his honest wife,
With good brown cake and bacon slice, intent
To cheer his hunger after labour hard.
Nor only soil, there also must be found
Felicity of clime, and aspect bland,
Where gentle sheep may nourish locks of price.
In vain the silken fleece on windy brows
And northern slopes of cloud-dividing hills
Is sought, though soft Ioeria spreads her lap
Beneath their rugged feet, and names their heights
Biscaian or Segovian. Bothnic realms,
And dark Norwegian, with their choicest fields,
Dingles, and dells, by lofty fir embower'd,
In vain the bleaters court. Alike they shun
Libya's hot plains: what taste have they for groves
Of palm, or yellow dust of gold? no more
Food to the flock, than to the miser wealth,
Who kneels upon the glittering heap, and starves.
E'en Gallic Abbeville the shining fleece,
That richly decorates her loom, acquires
Basely from Albion, by th' ensnaring bribe,
The bait of avarice, which, with felon fraud,
For its own wanton mouth, from thousands steals.
How erring oft the judgment in its bate,
Or fond desire! Those slow-descending showers,
Those hovering fogs, that bathe our growing vales
In deep November (loath'd by trifling Gaul,
Effeminate), are gifts the Pleiads shed,
Britannia's handmaids. As the beverage falls,
Her hills rejoice, her valleys laugh and sing.
Hail, noble Albion; where no golden mines,
No soft perfumes, nor oils, nor myrtle bowers,
The vigorous frame and lofty heart of man
Enervate round whose stern cerulean brows
White-winged snow, and cloud, and pearly rain,
Frequent attend, with solemn majesty:
Rich queen of Mists and Vapours! These thy sons
With their cool arms compress; and twist their
For deeds of excellence and high renown.
Thus form'd, our Edwards, Henrys, Churchills,
Our Lockes, our Newtons, and our Miltons, rose.
See the Sun gleams; the living pastures rise,
After the nurture of the fallen shower,
How beautiful! how blue th' ethereal vault,
How verdurous the lawns, how clear the brooks!
Such noble warlike steeds, such herds of kine,
So sleek, so vast; such spacious flocks of sheep,
Like flakes of gold illumining the green,
What other Paradise adorn but thine,
Britannia? happy, if thy sons would know
Their happiness. To these thy naval st (ams,
Thy frequent towns superb of busy trade,
And ports magnific add, and stately ships,
Innumerous. But whither strays my Muse?
Pleas'd, like a traveller upon the strand
Arriv'd of bright Augusta: wild he roves,
From deck to deck, through groves immense of masts;
'Mong crowds, bales, cars, the wealth of either Ind; Through wharfs, and squares, and palaces, and domes,
In sweet surprise; unable yet to fix
His raptur'd mind, or scan in order'd course
Each object singly; with discoveries new
His native country studious to enrich.
Ye shepherds, if your labours hope success,
Be first your purpose to procure a breed
To soil and clime adapted. Every soil
And clime, e'en every tree and herb, receives
Its habitant peculiar: each to each,
The Great Invisible, and each to all,
Through earth, and sea, and air, harmonious suits.
Tempestuous regions, Darwent's9 naked peaks,
Snowdon 10 and blue Plynlymon 1o, and the wide
Aerial sides of Cader-yddris 10 huge;
These are bestow'd on goat horn'd sheep, of fleece
Hairy and coarse, of long and nimble shank,
Who rove o'er bog or heath, and graze or browse
Alternate, to collect, with due dispatch,
O'er the bleak wild, the thinly-scatter'd meal.
But hills of milder air, that gently rise
O'er dewy dales, a fairer species boast,
Of shorter limb, and frontlet more ornate;
Such the Silurian. If thy farm extends
Near Cotswold downs, or the delicious groves
Of Symmonds, honour'd through the sandy soil
Of elmy Ross, or Devon's myrtle vales,
That drink clear rivers near the glassy sea;
Regard this sort, and hence thy sire of lambs
Select his tawny fleece in ringlets curls;
Long swings his slender tail; his front is fenc'd
With horns Ammonian, circulating twice
Around each open ear, like those fair scrolls
That grace the colunins of th' lonic dome.
Yet should thy fertile glebe be marly clay,
Like Melton pastures, or Tripontian fields",
Where ever-gliding Avon's limpid wave
Thwarts the long course of dusty Watling-street:
That larger sort, of head defenceless, seek,
Whose fleece is deep and clammy, close and plain:
The ram short-limb'd, whose form compact de-
One level line along his spacious back;
Of full and ruddy eye, large ears, stretch'd head,
Nostrils dilated, breast and shoulders broad,
And spacious haunches, and a lofty dock.
Thus to their kindred soil and air induc'd,
Thy thriving herd will bless thy skilful care,
That copies Nature: who, in every change,
In each variety, with wisdom works,
And powers diversify'd of air and soil,
Her rich materials. Hence Sabæa's rocks,
Chaldæa's marle, Fgyptus' water'd loam,
And dry Cyrene's sand, in climes alike,
With different stores supply the marts of trade.
Hence Zembla's icy tracts no bleaters hear;
Small are the Russian herds, and harsh their fleece;
9 Darwent's naked peaks, the peaks of Derbyshire.
10 Snowdon, Plynlymmon, and Cader-yddris, are high hills in North Wales.
11 A town in Herefordshire.
"Tripontian fields, the country between Rugby in Warwickshire and Lutterworth in Leicestershire.
Of light esteem Germanic, far remote
From soft sea-breezes, open winters mild,
And summers bath'd in dew: on Syrian sheep
The costly burthen only loads their tails:
No locks Cormandel's, none Malacca's tribe
Adorn; but sleek of flix, and brown like deer,
Fearful and shepherdless, they bound along
The sands. No fleeces wave in torrid climes,
Which verdure boast of trees and shrubs alone,
Shrubs aromatic, caufee wild, or thea,
Nutmeg, or cinnamon, or fiery clove,
Unapt to feed the fleece. The food of wool
Is grass or herbage soft, that ever blooms
In temperate air, in the delicious downs
Of Albion, on the banks of all her streams.
Of grasses are unnumber'd kinds, and all
(Save where foul waters linger on the turf)
Salubrious. Early mark, when tepid gleams
Oft mingle with the pearls of summer showers,
And swell too hastily the tender plains:
Then snatch away thy sheep: beware the rot;
And with detersive bay-salt rub their mouths;
Or urge them on a barren bank to feed,
In hunger's kind distress, on tedded hay;
Or to the marish guide their easy steps,
If near thy tufted crofts the broad sea spreads.
Sagacious care foreacts: when strong disease
Breaks in, and stains the purple streams of health,
Hard is the strife of art: the coughing pest
From their green pasture sweeps whole flocks away.
That dire distemper sometimes may the swain,
Though late, discern; when on the lifted lid,
Or visual orb, the turgid veins are pale;
The swelling liver then her putrid store
Begins to drink: e'en yet thy skill exert,
Nor suffer weak despair to fold thy arms:
Again detersive salt apply, or shed
The hoary med'cine o'er their arid food.
In cold stiff soils the bleaters oft complain
Of gouty ails, by shepherds term'd the halt:
Those let the neighbouring fold or ready crook
Detain; and pour into their cloven feet
Corrosive drugs, deep-searching arsenic,
Dry alum, verdigrise, or vitriol keen.
But if the doubtful mischief scarce appears,
'T will serve to shift them to a drier turf,
And salt again: th' utility of salt
Teach thy slow swains: redundant humours cold
Are the diseases of the bleating kind.
Th' infectious scab, arising from extremes
Of want or surfeit, is by water cur'd
Of lime, or sodden stave-acre, or oil
Dispersive of Norwegian tar, renown'd
By virtuous Berkeley, whose benevolence
Explor'd its powers, and easy medicine thence
Sought for the poor: ye poor, with grateful voice,
Invoke eternal blessings on his head.
Sheep also pleurisies and dropsies know,
Driv'n oft from Nature's path by artful man,
Who blindly turns aside, with haughty hand,
Whom sacred Instinct would securely lead.
But thou, more humble swain, thy rural gates
Frequent unbar, and let thy flocks abroad,
From lea to croft, from mead to arid field;
Noting the fickle seasons of the sky.
Fain-sated pastures let them shun, and seek
Changes of herbage and salubrious flowers.
By their All-perfect Master inly taught,
They best their food and physic can discern;
For he, Supreme Existence, ever near,
Informs them. O'er the vivid green observe
With what a regular consent they crop,
At every fourth collection to the mouth,
Unsavory crow-flower; whether to awake
Languor of appetite with lively change,
Or timely to repel approaching ills,
Hard to determine, Thou, whom Nature loves,
And with her salutary rules intrusts,
Benevolent Mackenzie 13, say the cause.
This truth howe'er shines bright to human sense;
Each strong affection of th' unconscious brute,
Each bent, each passion of the smallest mite,
Is wisely given; harmonious they perform
The work of perfect reason, (blush, vain man')
And turn the wheels of Nature's vast machine.
See that thy scrip have store of healing tar,
And marking pitch and raddle; nor forget
Thy sheers true pointed, nor th' officious dog,
Faithful to teach thy stragglers to return:
So mayst thou aid who lag along, or steal
Aside into the furrows or the shades,
Silent to droop; or who, at every gate
Or hillock, rub their sores and loosen'd wool.
But rather these, the feeble of thy flock,
Banish before th' autumnal months: e'en age
Forbear too much to favour; oft renew,
And through thy fold let joyous youth appear.
Beware the season of imperial Love,
Who through the world his ardent spirit pours;
E'en sheep are then intrepid: the proud ram
With jealous eye surveys the spacious field:
All rivals keep aloof, or desperate war
Suddenly rages; with impetuous force,
And fury irresistible, they dash
Their hardy froutlets; the wide vale resounds;
The flock amaz'd stands safe afar; and oft
Each to the other's might a victim falls:
As fell of old, before that engine's sway,
Which hence Ambition imitative wrought,
The beauteous towers of Salem to the dust.
Wise custom, at the fifth or sixth return,
Or ere they 'ave past the twelfth of orient morn,
Castrates the lambkins; necessary rite,
Ere they be number'd of the peaceful herd.
But kindly watch whom thy sharp hand has griev'd,
In those rough months, that lift the turning year :
Not tedious is the office; to thy aid
Favonius hastens; soon their wounds he heals,
And leads them skipping to the flowers of May;
May, who allows to fold, if poor the tilth,
Like that of dreary, houseless, common fields,
Worn by the plough: but fold on fallows dry.
Enfeeble not thy flock to feed thy land:
Nor in too narrow bounds the prisoners crowd:
Nor ope the wattled fence, while balmy Mora
Lies on the reeking pasture; wait till all
The crystal dews, impearl'd upon the grass,
Are touch'd by Phoebus' beams, and mount alɔft,
With various clouds to paint the azure sky.
In teasing fly-time, dank, or frosty days,
With unctuous liquids, or the lees of oil,
Rub their soft skins, between the parted locks;
Thus the Brigantes 14; 't is not idle pains:
Nor is that skill despis'd, which trims their tails,
Ere summer heats, of filth and tagged wool.
Coolness and cleanliness to health conduce.
13 Dr. Mackenzie, late of Worcester, now of Drumsugh, near Edinburgh.
14 The inhabitants of Yorkshire.
To mend thy mounds, to trench, to clear, to soil | Through slow experience, by a patient breast,
Thy grateful fields, to medicate thy sheep,
Hurdles to weave, and cheerly shelters raise,
Thy vacant hours require: and ever learn
Quick ether's motion: oft the scene is turn'd;
Now the blue vault, and now the murky cloud,
Hail, rain, or radiance; these the Moon will tell,
Each bird and beast, and these thy fleecy tribe:
When high the sapphire cope, supine they couch,
And chew the cud delighted; but, ere rain,
Eager, and at unwonted hour, they feed:
Slight not the warning; soon the tempest rolls,
Scattering them wide, close rushing at the heels
Of th' hurrying o'ertaken swains: forbear
The whole long lesson gradual is attain'd,
By precept after precept, oft receiv'd
With deep attention: such as Nuceus 15 sings
To the full vale near Soare's 16 enamour'd brook,
While all is silence: sweet Hincklean swain!
Whom rude Obscurity severely clasps :
The Muse, howe'er, will deck thy simple cell
With purple violets and primrose flowers,
Well-pleas'd thy faithful lessons to repay.
Sheep no extremes can bear: both heat and cold
Spread sores cutaneous; but, more frequent, heat;
The fly-blown vermin, from their woolly nest,
Press to the tortur'd skin, and flesh, and bone,
Such nights to fold; such nights be theirs to shift In littleness and number dreadful foes.
On ridge or hillock; or in homesteads soft,
Or softer cotes, detain them. Is thy lot
A chill penurious turf, to all thy toils
Untractable? Before harsh Winter drowns
The noisy dykes, and starves the rushy glebe,
Shift the frail breed to sandy hamlets warm:
There let them sojourn, till gay Procne skims
The thickening verdure, and the rising flowers.
And while departing Autumn all embrowns
The frequent-bitten fields; while thy free hand
Divides the tedded hay; then be their feet
Accustom'd to the barriers of the rick,
Or some warm umbrage; lest, in erring fright,
When the broad dazzling snows descend, they run
Dispers'd to ditches, where the swelling drift
Wide overwhelms : anxious, the shepherd swains
Issue with axe and spade, and, all abroad,
In doubtful aim explore the glaring waste;
And some, perchance, in the deep delve upraise,
Drooping, e'en at the twelfth cold dreary day,
With still continued feeble pulse of life;
The glebe, their fleece, their flesh, by hunger
Ah, gentle shepherd, thine the lot to tend,
Of all, that feel distress, the most assail'd,
Feeble, defenceless: lenient be thy care:
But spread around thy tenderest diligence
In flowery spring-time, when the new-dropt lamb,
Tottering with weakness by his mother's side,
Feels the fresh world about him; and each thorn,
Hillock, or furrow, trips his feeble feet:
O, guard his meek sweet innocence from all
Th' innumerous ills that rush around his life;
Mark the quick kite, with beak and talons prone,
Circling the skies to snatch him from the plain;
Observe the lurking crows; beware the brake,
There the sly fox the careless minute waits;
Long rains in miry winter cause the halt;
Rainy luxuriant summers rot your flock;
And all excess, e'en of salubrious food,
As sure destroys, as famine or the wolf.
Inferior theirs to man's world-roving frame,
Which all extremes in every zone endures.
With grateful heart, ye British swains, enjoy
Your gentle seasons and indulgent clime.
Lo, in the sprinkling clouds, your bleating hills
Rejoice with herbage, while the horrid rage
Of Winter irresistible o'erwhelms
Th' Hyperborean tracts: his arrowy frosts,
That pierce through flinty rocks, the Lappian flies;
And burrows deep beneath the snowy world;
A drear abode, from rose-diffusing hours,
That dance before the wheels of radiant day,
Far, far remote; where, by the squalid light
Of fætid oil inflam'd, sea-monster's spume,
Or fir-wood, glaring in the weeping vault,
Twice three slow gloomy months, with various ille
Sullen he struggles; such the love of life!
His lank and scanty herds around him press,
As, hunger-stung, to gritty meal he grinds
The bones of fish, or inward bark of trees,
Their common sustenance. While ye, O swains,
Ye, happy at your ease, behold your sheep
Feed on the open turf, or crowd the tilth,
Where, thick among the greens, with busy mouths
They scoop white turnips: little care is yours;
Only, at morning hour, to interpose
Dry food of oats, or hay, or brittle straw,
The watery juices of the bossy root
Absorbing; or from noxious air to screen
Your heavy teeming ewes, with wattled fence
Of furze or copse-wood, in the lofty field,
Which bleak ascends among the whistling winds.
Or, if your sheep are of Silurian breed,
Nor trust thy neighbour's dog, nor earth, nor sky: Nightly to house them dry on fern or straw,
Thy bosom to a thousand cares divide.
Eurus oft slings his bail; the tardy fields
Pay not their promis'd food; and oft the dam
O'er her weak twins with empty udder mourns,
Or fails to guard, when the bold bird of prey
Alights, and hops in many turns around,
And tires her also turning: to her aid
Be nimble, and the weakest, in thine arms,
Gently convey to the warm cote, and oft,
Between the lark's note and the nightingale's,
His hungry bleating still with tepid milk:
In this soft office may thy children join,
And charitable habits learn in sport:
Nor yield him to himself, ere vernal airs
Sprinkle thy little croft with daisy flowers.
Nor yet forget him: life has rising ills:
Various as ether is the pastoral care;
Silkening their fleeces. Ye, nor rolling hut,
Nor watchful dog, require; where never roar
Of savage tears the air, where careless Night
In balmy sleep lies lull'd, and only wakes
To plenteous peace. Alas! o'er warmer zones
Wild Terrour strides: their stubborn rocks are rent;
Their mountains sink; their yawning caverns flame;
And fiery torrents roll impetuous down,
Proud cities deluging; Pompeian towers,
And Herculanean, and what riotous stood
In Syrian valley, where now the Dead Sea
'Mong solitary hills infectious lies.
15 Mr. Joseph Nutt, an eminent apothecary at
Hinckley; of whom see the history of that time,
16 A river in Leicestershire.
See the swift furies, Famine, Plague, and War,
In frequent thunders rage o'er neighbouring realms,
And spread their plains with desolation wide:
Yet your mild homesteads, ever-blooming, smile
Among embracing woods; and waft on high
The breath of plenty, from the ruddy tops
Of chimneys, curling o'er the gloomy trees,
In airy azure ringlets, to the sky.
Nor ye by need are urg'd, as Attic swains,
And Tarentine, with skins to clothe your sheep;
Expensive toil; howe'er expedient found
In fervid climates, while from Phoebus' beams
They fled to rugged woods and tangling brakes.
But those expensive toils are now no more,
Proud tyranny devours their flocks and herds:
Nor bleat of sheep may now, nor sound of pipe,
Sooth the sad plains of once sweet Arcady,
The shepherds' kingdom: dreary solitude
Spreads o'er Hymettus, and the shaggy vale
Of Athens, which, in solemn silence, sheds
Her venerable ruins to the dust.
The weary Arabs roam from plain to plain,
Guiding the languid herd in quest of food;
And shift their little home's uncertain scene
With frequent farewell: strangers, pilgrims all,
As were their fathers. No sweet fall of rain
May there be heard; nor sweeter liquid lapse
Of river, o'er the pebbles gliding by
In murmurs: goaded by the rage of thirst,
Daily they journey to the distant clefts
Of craggy rocks, where gloomy palms o'erhang
The ancient welis, deep sunk by toil immense,
Toil of the patriarchs, with sublime intent
Themselves and long posterity to serve.
There, at the public hour of sultry noon,
They share the beverage, when to watering come,
And grateful umbrage, all the tribes around,
And their lean flocks, whose various bleatings fill
The echoing caverns: then is absent none,
Fair nymph or shepherd, each inspiring each
To wit, and song, and dance, and active feats;
In the same rustic scene, where Jacob won
Fair Rachael's bosom, when a rock's vast weight
From the deep dark-mouth'd well his strength re-
And to her circling sheep refreshment gave.
Such are the perils, such the toils of life,
In foreign climes. But speed thy flight, my Muse;
Swift turns the year; and our unnumber'd flocks
On fleeces overgrown uneasy lie.
Now, jolly swains, the harvest of your cares
Prepare to reap, and seek the sounding caves
Of high Brigantium 7, where, by ruddy flames,
Vulcan's strong sons, with nervous arm, around
The steady anvil and the glaring mass,
Clatter their heavy hammers down by turns,
Flattening the steel; from their rough hands receive
The sharpen'd instrument, that from the flock
Severs the fleece. If verdant elder spreads
Her silver flowers; if humble daisies yield
To yellow crowfoot, and luxuriant grass,
Gay shearing-time approaches. First, howe'er,
Drive to the double fold, upon the brim
Of a clear river, gently drive the flock,
And plunge them one by one into the flood:
Plung'd in the flood, not long the struggler sinks,
17 The caves of Brigantium—the forges of Sheffield, in Yorkshire, where the shepherds' shears and all edge-tools are made.
With his white fakes, that glisten through the uide;
The sturdy rustic, in the middle wave,
Awaits to seize him rising; one arm bears
His lifted head above the limpid stream,
While the full clammy fleece the other laves
Around, laborious, with repeated toil;
And then resigns him to the sunny bank,
Where, bleating loud, he shakes his dripping locks.
Shear them the fourth or fifth return of morn,
Lest touch of busy fly-blows wound their skin :
Thy peaceful subjects without murmur yield
Their yearly tribute: 't is the prudent part
To cherish and be gentle, while ye strip
The downy vesture from their tender sides.
Press not too close; with caution turn the points;
And from the head in regular rounds proceed:
But speedy, when ye chance to wound, with ar
Prevent the wingy swarm and scorching heat;
And careful house them, if the lowering clouds
Mingle their stores tumultuous: through the gloom
Then thunder oft with ponderous wheels rolls loud,
And breaks the crystal uras of Heaven: adown
Falls streaming rain. Sometimes among the steeps
Of Cambrian glades (pity the Cambrian glades)
Fast tumbling brooks on brooks enormous swell,
And sudden overwhelm their vanish'd fields:
Down with the flood away the naked sheep,
Bleating in vain, are borne, and straw-built huts,
And rifted trees, and heavy enormous rocks,
Down with the rapid torrent to the deep.
At shearing-time, along the lively vales,
Rural festivities are often heard:
Beneath each blooming arbour all is joy
And lusty merriment: while on the grass
The mingled youth in gaudy circles sport,
We think the golden age again return'd,
And all the fabled Dryades in dance.
Leering they bound along, with laughing air,
To the shrill pipe, and deep remurmuring chords
Of th' ancient harp, or tabor's hollow sound.
While th' old apart, upon a bank reclin'd,
Attend the tuneful carol, softly mixt
With every murmur of the sliding wave,
And every warble of the feather'd choir;
Music of Paradise! which still is heard,
When the heart listens; still the views appear
Of the first happy garden, when Content
To Nature's flowery scenes directs the sight.
Yet we abandon those Elysian walks,
Then idly for the lost delight repine:
As greedy mariners, whose desperate sails
Skim o'er the billows of the foamy flood,
Fancy they see the lessening shores retire,
And sigh a farewel to the sinking hills.
Could I recall those notes, which once the Muse
Heard at a shearing, near the woody sides
Of blue-topp'd Wreakin 18! Yet the carols sweet,
Through the deep maze of the memorial cell,
Faintly remurmur. First arose in song
Hoar-headed Damon, venerable swain,
The soothest shepherd of the flowery vale.
"This is no vulgar scene: no palace-roof
Was e'er so lofty, nor so nobly rise
Their polish'd pillars, as these aged oaks,
Which o'er our feecy wealth and harmless sports
Thus have expanded wide their sheltering arms,
Thrice told an hundred summers. Sweet Content,
Ye gentle shepherds, pillow us at night.”
18. A high hill in Shropshire.