English Poets of the Eighteenth Century eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 437 pages of information about English Poets of the Eighteenth Century.
But if to ampler prospects, if to gaze
On Nature’s form where, negligent of all
These lesser graces, she assumes the part
Of that Eternal Majesty that weighed
The world’s foundations, if to these the mind
Exalts her daring eye; then mightier far
Will be the change, and nobler.  Would the forms
Of servile custom cramp her generous powers? 
Would sordid policies, the barbarous growth
Of ignorance and rapine, bow her down
To tame pursuits, to indolence and fear? 
Lo! she appeals to Nature, to the winds
And rolling waves, the sun’s unwearied course
The elements and seasons:  all declare
For what th’ Eternal Maker has ordained
The powers of man:  we feel within ourselves
His energy divine:  he tells the heart
He meant, he made us, to behold and love
What he beholds and loves, the general orb
Of life and being; to be great like him,
Beneficent and active.  Thus the men
Whom nature’s works can charm, with God himself
Hold converse; grow familiar, day by day,
With his conceptions; act upon his plan;
And form to his, the relish of their souls.



  Ye green-robed Dryads, oft at dusky eve
  By wondering shepherds seen, to forests brown
  To unfrequented meads, and pathless wilds,
  Lead me from gardens decked with art’s vain pomps. 
  Can gilt alcoves, can marble-mimic gods
  Parterres embroidered, obelisks, and urns
  Of high relief; can the long, spreading lake,
  Or vista lessening to the sight; can Stow,
  With all her Attic fanes, such raptures raise,
  As the thrush-haunted copse, where lightly leaps
  The fearful fawn the rustling leaves along,
  And the brisk squirrel sports from bough to bough,
  While from an hollow oak, whose naked roots
  O’erhang a pensive rill, the busy bees
  Hum drowsy lullabies?  The bards of old,
  Fair Nature’s friends, sought such retreats, to charm
  Sweet Echo with their songs; oft too they met
  In summer evenings, near sequestered bowers,
  Or mountain nymph, or Muse, and eager learnt
  The moral strains she taught to mend mankind.

* * * * *

Rich in her weeping country’s spoils, Versailles
May boast a thousand fountains, that can cast
The tortured waters to the distant heavens: 
Yet let me choose some pine-topped precipice
Abrupt and shaggy, whence a foamy stream,
Like Anio, tumbling roars; or some bleak heath,
Where straggling stands the mournful juniper,
Or yew-tree scathed; while in clear prospect round
From the grove’s bosom spires emerge, and smoke
In bluish wreaths ascends, ripe harvests wave,
Low, lonely cottages, and ruined tops
Of Gothic battlements appear, and streams
Beneath the sunbeams twinkle.

Project Gutenberg
English Poets of the Eighteenth Century from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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