Rural Sports: A Georgic - Canto I.

You, who the sweets of rural life have known,
Despise the ungrateful hurry of the town;
In Windsor groves your easy hours employ,
And, undistub'd, yourself and muse enjoy.
Thames, listens to thy strains, and silent flows,
And no rude winds through rustling osiers blows,
While all his wondering nymphs around thee throng,
To hear the Syrens warble in thy song.

But I, who ne'er was bless'd by fortune's hand,
Nor brighten'd plough shares in paternal land,
Long in the noisy town have been immur'd,
Respir'd its smoke, and all its cares endur'd,
Where news and politics divide mankind,
And schemes of state involve the uneasy mind:
Faction embroils the world; and every tongue
Is mov'd by flattery, or with scandal hung:
Friendship, for sylvan shades, the palace flies,
Where all must yield to interest's dearer ties,
Each rival Machiavel with envy burns,
And honesty forsakes them all by turns;
While calumny upon each party's thrown,
Which both promote, and both alike disown.
Fatigu'd at last; a calm retreat I chose,
And sooth'd my harass'd mind with sweet repose,
Where fields, and shades, and the refreshing clime,
Inspire my silvan song, and prompt my rhyme.
My muse shall rove through flowery meads and plains,
And deck with rural sports her native strains,
And the same road ambitiously pursue,
Frequented by the Mantuan swain, and you.

'Tis not that rural sports alone invite,
But all the grateful country breathes delight;
Here blooming health exerts her gentle reign,
And strings the sinews of the industrious swain.
Soon as the morning lark salutes the day,
Through dewy fields I take my frequent way,
Where I behold the farmer's early care,
In the revolving labours of the year.

When the fresh spring in all her state is crown'd,
And high luxuriant grass o'erspreads the ground,
The labourer with the bending scythe is seen,
Shaving the surface of the waving green,
Of all her native pride disrobes the land,
And meads lays waste before the sweeping hand:
While the mounting sun the meadow glows,
The fading herbage round he loosely throws;
But if some sign portend a lasting shower,
The experienc'd swain foresees the coming hour,
His sun burnt hands the scattering fork forsake,
And ruddy damsels ply the saving rake;
In rising hills the fragrant harvest grows,
And spreads along the field in equal rows.

Now when the height of heaven bright Phoebus gains,
And level rays cleave wide the thirsty plains,
When heifers seek the shade and cooling lake,
And in the middle path-way basks the snake?
O lead me, guard me from the sultry hours,
Hide me, ye forests, in your closet bowers:
Where the tall oak his spreading arms entwine,,
And with the beech a mutual shade combines;
Where flows the murmuring brook, inviting dreams,
Where bordering hazle overhangs the streams,
Whose rolling current winding round and round,
With frequent falls makes all the woods resound,
Upon the mossy couch my limbs I cast,
And even at noon the sweets of evening taste.

Here I peruse the Mantuan's Georgic strains,
And learn the labours of Italian swains;
In every page I see new landscapes rise,
And all Hesperia opens to my eyes.
I wander o'er the various rural toil,
And know the nature of each different soil:
This waving field is gilded o'er with corn,
That spreading trees with blushing fruit adorn;
Here I survey the purple vintage grow,
Climb round the poles, and rise in graceful row;
Now I behold the steed curvet and bound,
And paw with restless hoof the smoking ground:
The dewlap'd bull now chaffs along the plain,
While burning love ferments in every vein;
His well-arm'd front against his rival aims,
And by the dint of war his mistress claims:
The careful insect 'midst his works I view,
Now from the flowers exhaust the fragrant dew;
With golden treasures load his little thighs,
And steer his distant journey through the skies;
Some against hostile drones the hive defend;
Others with sweets the waxen cells distend;
Each in the toil his destin'd office bears,
And in the little bulk a mighty soul appears.

Or when the ploughman leaves the task of day,
And trudging homeward whistles on the way;
When the big udder'd cows with patience stand,
Waiting the stroakings of the damsel's hand;
No warbling cheers the woods; the feather'd choir
To court kind slumbers to their sprays retire;
When no rude gale disturbs the sleeping trees,
Nor aspen leaves confess the gentlest breeze;
Engag'd in thought, to Neptune's bounds I stray,
To take my farewell of the
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John Gay

John Gay, a cousin of the poet John Gay, was an English philosopher, biblical scholar and Church of England clergyman. more…

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"Rural Sports: A Georgic - Canto I." Poetry.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2019. Web. 20 Aug. 2019. <https://www.poetry.net/poem/22773/rural-sports:-a-georgic---canto-i.>.

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