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When I lie tangled in her hair,
And fettered to her eye,-
The birds, that wanton in the air,
Know no such liberty.
When flowing cups run swiftly round
With no allaying Thames, Our careless heads with roses crowned,
Our hearts with loyal flames; When thirsty grief in wine we steep,
When healths and draughts go free,Fishes, that tipple in the deep,
Know no such liberty,
When, like confined linnets, I
With shriller throat shall sing
The sweetness, mercy, majesty,
And glories of my King;
When I shall voice aloud how good
He is, how great should be,-
Enlarged winds, that curl the flood,
Know no such liberty.
Stone walls do not a prison make,
Nor iron bars a cage;
Minds innocent and quiet take
That for an hermitage.
If I have freedom in my love,
And in my soul am free,-
Angels alone, that soar above,
Enjoy such liberty.
Hail, old patrician trees, so great and good!
Hail, ye plebeian underwood!
Where the poetic birds rejoice,
And, for their quiet nests and plenteous food,
Pay with their gentle voice.
Hail, the poor Muses richest manor-seat!
Ye country-houses and retreat,
Which all the happy gods so love,
That for you oft they quit their bright and great
Here Nature does a house for me erect,
Nature! the fairest architect;
Who those fond artists does despise,
That can the fair and living trees neglect,
Yet the dead timber prize.
Here let me, careless and unthoughtful lying,
Hear the soft winds above me flying,
With all their wanton boughs dispute,
And the more tuneful birds to both replying;
Nor be myself, too, mute.
A silver stream shall roll his waters near,
Gilt with the sunbeams here and there;
On whose enamelled bank I'll walk,
And see how prettily they smile, and hear
How prettily they talk.
Ah! wretched, and too solitary! he
Who loves not his own company!
He'll feel the weight of ’t many a day,
Unless he call in Sin or Vanity
To help to bear 't away.
Oh, Solitude! first state of human kind!
Which blessed remained, till man did find
Even his own helper's company.
As soon as two, alas! together joined,
The serpent made up three.
Though God himself, through countless ages, thee
His sole companion chose to be,
Thee, sacred Solitude! alone,
Before the branchy head of Number's tree
Sprang from the trunk of one.
Thou, though men think thine an unactive part,
Dost break and tame th' unruly heart,
Which else would know no settled pace,
Making it move, well-managed by thy art,
With swiftness and with grace.
Thou the faint beams of Reason's scattered light
Dost, like a burning-glass, unite;
Dost multiply the feeble heat,
And fortify the strength, till thou dost bright
And noble fires beget.
Whilst this hard truth I teach, methinks I see
The monster, London, laugh at me;
I should at thee, too, foolish city!
If it were fit to laugh at misery;
But thy estate I pity.
Let but thy wicked men from out thee go,
And all the fools that crowd thee so,
Ev'n thou, who dost thy millions boast,
A village less than Islington wilt grow,
A solitude almost.
This only grant me, that my means may lie Too low for envy, for contempt too high.
Some honour I would have,
Not from great deeds, but good alone;
Th' unknown are better than ill-known:
Rumour can ope the grave.
Acquaintance I would have, but when 't depends,
Not on the number, but the choice, of friends.
Books should, not business, entertain the light,
And sleep, as undisturbed as death, the night.
My house, a cottage more
Than palace; and should fitting be
For all my use, no luxury.
My garden painted o'er With Nature's hand, not Art's; and pleasures yield, Horace might envy in his Sabine field.
Thus would I double my life's fading space;
For he that runs it well, twice runs his race.
And in this true delight,
These unbought sports, this happy state,
I would not fear, nor wish, my fate;
But boldly say cach night,
To-morrow let my sun his beams display,
Or in clouds hide them; I have lived to-day.