The Castle of Indolence/B

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    In lowly Dale, faſt by a River's Side,
    With woody Hill o'er Hill encompaſs'd round,
    A moſt enchanting Wizard did abide,
    Than whom a Fiend more fell is no where found.
    It was, I ween, a lovely Spot of Ground;
    And there a Seaſon atween June and May,
    Half prankt with Spring, with Summer half imbrown'd,
    A liſtleſs Climate made, where, Sooth to ſay,
No living Wight could work, ne cared even for Play.


    Was nought around but Images of Reſt:
    Sleep-ſoothing Groves, and quiet Lawns between;
    And flowery Beds that ſlumbrous Influence keſt,
    From Poppies breath'd; and Beds of pleaſant Green,
    Where never yet was creeping Creature ſeen.
    Mean time unnumber'd glittering Streamlets play'd,
    And hurled every-where their Waters ſheen;
    That, as they bicker'd through the ſunny Glade,
Though reſtleſs ſtill themſelves, a lulling Murmur made.


    Join'd to the Prattle of the purling Rills,
    Were heard the lowing Herds along the Vale,
    And Flocks loud-bleating from the diſtant Hills,
    And vacant Shepherds piping in the Dale;
    And now and then ſweet Philomel would wail,
    Or Stock-Doves plain amid the Foreſt deep,
    That drowſy ruſtled to the fighting Gale;
    And ſtill a Coil the Graſhopper did keep:
Yet all theſe Sounds yblent inclined all to Sleep.


    Full in the Paſſage of the Vale, above,
    A ſable, ſilent, ſolemn Foreſt ſtood;
    Where nought but ſhadowy Forms were ſeen to move,
    As Idleſs fancy'd in her dreaming Mood.
    And up the Hills, on either Side, a Wood
    Of blackening Pines, ay waving to and fro,
    Sent forth a ſleepy Horror through the Blood;
    And where this Valley winded out, below,
The murmuring Main was heard, and fearcely heard, to flow.


    A pleaſing Land of Drowſy-hed it was:
    Of Dreams that wave before the half-ſhut Eye;
    And of gay Caſtles in the Clouds that paſs,
    For ever fluſhing round a Summer-Sky:
    There eke the ſoft Delights, that witchingly
    Inſtil a wanton Sweetneſs through the Breaſt,
    And the calm of Pleaſures always hover'd nigh;
    But whate'er ſmack'd of Noyance, or Unreſt,
Was far far off expell'd from this delicious Neſt.


    The Landſkip ſuch, inſpiring perfect Eaſe,
    Where Indolence (for ſo the Wizard hight)
    Cloſe-hid his Caſtle mid embowering Trees,
    That half ſhut out the Beams of Phœbus bright,
    And made a Kind of checker'd Day and Night.
    Mean while, unceaſing at the maſſy Gate,
    Beneath a ſpacious Palm, the wicked Wight
    Was plac'd; and to his Lute, of cruel Fate,
And Labour harſh, complain'd, lamenting Man's Eſtate.


    Thither continual Pilgrims crouded ſtill,
    From all the Roads of Earth that paſs there by:
    For, as they chaunc'd to breathe on neighbouring Hill,
    The Freſhneſs of this Valley ſmote their Eye,
    And drew them ever and anon more nigh,
    'Till cluſtering round th' Enchanter falſe they hung,
    Ymolten with his Syren Melody;
    While o'er th' enfeebling Lute his Hand he flung,
And to the trembling Chords theſe tempting Verſes ſung:


    "Behold! ye Pilgrims of this Earth, behold!
    "See all but Man with unearn'd Pleaſure gay.
    "See her bright Robes the Butterfly unfold,
    "Broke from her wintry Tomb in Prime of May.
    "What youthful Bride can equal her Array?
    "Who can with her for eaſy Pleaſure vie?
    "From Mead to Mead with gentle Wing to ſtray,
    "From Flower to Flower on balmy Gales to fly,
"Is all ſhe has to do beneath the radiant Sky.


    "Behold the merry Minſtrels of the Morn,
    "The ſwarming Songſters of the careleſs Grove,
    "Ten thouſand Throats! that, from the flowering Thorn,
    "Hymn their Good God, and carol ſweet of Love,
    "Such grateful kindly Raptures them emove:
    "They neither plough, nor ſow; ne, fit for Flail,
    "E'er to the Barn the nodding Sheaves they drove;
    "Yet theirs each Harveſt dancing in the Gale,
"Whatever crowns the Hill, or ſmiles along the Vale.

    "Outcaſt of Nature, Man! the wretched Thrall
    "Of bitter-dropping Sweat, of ſweltry Pain,
    "Of cares that eat away thy Heart with Gall,
    "And vices, an inhuman Train,
    "That all proceed from ſavage Thirſt of Gain:
    "For when hard-hearted Intereſt firſt began
    "To poiſon Earth, Aſtræa left the Plain;
    "Guile, Violence, and Murder ſeiz'd on Man;
"And, for ſoft milky Streams, with Blood the Rivers ran.


    "Come, ye, who ſtill the cumbrous Load of Life
    "Puſh hard up Hill; but as the fartheſt Steep
    "You truſt to gain, and put an End to Strife,
    "Down thunders back the Stone with mighty Sweep,
    "And hurls your Labours to the Valley deep,
    "For-ever vain: come, and, withouten Fee,
    "I in Oblivion will your Sorrows ſteep,
    "Your Cares, your Toils, will ſteep you in a Sea
"Of full Delight: O come, ye weary Wights, to me!


    "With me, you need not riſe at early Dawn,
    "To paſs the joyleſs Day in various Stounds:
    "Or, louting low, on upſtart Fortune fawn,
    "And ſell fair Honour for ſome paltry Pounds;
    "Or through the City take your dirty Rounds,
    "To cheat, and dun, and lye, and Viſit pay,
    "Now flattering baſe, now giving ſecret Wounds,
    "Or proul in Courts of Law for human Prey,
"In venal Senate thieve, or rob on broad High-way.


    "No Cocks, with me, to ruſtic Labour call,
    "From Village on to Village ſounding clear;
    "To tardy Swain no ſhrill-voic'd Matrons ſquall;
    "No Dogs, no Babes, no Wives, to ſtun your Ear;
    "No Hammers thump; no horrid Blackſmith ſear,
    "Ne noiſy Tradeſman your ſweet Slumbers ſtart,
    "With Sounds that are a Miſery to hear:
    "But all is calm, as would delight the Heart
"Of Sybarite of old, all Nature, and all Art.


    "Here nought but Candour reigns, indulgent Eaſe,
    "Good-natur'd Lounging, Sauntering up and down:
    "They who are pleas'd themſelves muſt always pleaſe;
    "On Others' Ways they never ſquint a Frown,
    "Nor heed what haps to Hamlet or in Town.
    "Thus, from the Source of tender Indolence,
    "With milky Blood the Heart is overflown,
    "Is ſooth'd and ſweeten'd by the ſocial Senſe;
"For Intereſt, Envy, Pride, and Strife are baniſh'd hence.


    "What, what, is Virtue, but Repoſe of Mind?
    "A pure ethereal Calm! that knows no Storm;
    "Above the Reach of wild Ambition's Wind,
    "Above thoſe Paſſions that this World deform,
    "And torture Man, a proud malignant Worm!
    "But here, inſtead, ſoft Gales of Paſſion play,
    "And gently ſtir the Heart, thereby to form
    "A quicker Senſe of Joy; as Breezes ſtray
"Acroſs th' enliven'd Skies, and make them ſtill more gay.


    "The Beſt of Men have ever lov'd Repoſe:
    "They hate to mingle in the filthy Fray;
    "Where the Soul ſowrs, and gradual Rancour grows,
    "Imbitter'd more from peeviſh Day to Day.
    "Even Thoſe whom Fame has lent her faireſt Ray,
    "The moſt renown'd of worthy Wights of Yore,
    "From a baſe World at laſt have ſtolen away:
    "So Scipio, to the ſoft Cumæan Shore
"Retiring, taſted Joy he never knew before.