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THE PROGRESS OF GENIUS.
An! who can tell how hard it is to climb
In life's low vale remote hath pin'd alone,
Then dropt into the grave, unpitied and unknown.
And yet, the languor of inglorious days
Him, who ne'er listen'd to the voice of praise,
There are, who, deaf to mad Ambition's call, Would shrink to hear the obstreperous trump of
Supremely blest, if to their portion fall
Health, competence, and peace. Nor higher aim Had He, whose simple tale these artless lines proclaim.
The rolls of fame I will not now explore;
Fret not thyself, thou glittering child of pride, That a poor villager inspires my strain; With thee let Pageantry and Power abide : The gentle Muses haunt the sylvan reign; Where thro' wild groves at eve the lonely swain Enraptur'd roams, to gaze on Nature's charms. They hate the sensual, and scorn the vain, The parasite their influence never warms, Nor him whose sordid soul the love of gold alarms.
Though richest hues the peacock's plumes adorn,
But sing what Heaven inspires, and wander where they
Liberal, not lavish, is kind Nature's hand;
Here peaceful are the vales, and pure the skies, And freedom fires the soul, and sparkles in the eyes.
Then grieve not, thou, to whom the indulgent Muse Vouchsafes a portion of celestial fire ;
Nor blame the partial Fates, if they refuse The imperial banquet and the rich attire. Know thine own worth, and reverence the lyre. Wilt thou debase the heart which God refin'd? No; let thy heaven-taught soul to heaven aspire, To fancy, freedom, harmony, resign; Ambition's groveling crew for ever left behind.
Canst thou forego the pure ethereal soul,
O how canst thou renounce the boundless store
The wight, whose tale these artless lines unfold,
Nor aught that might a strange event declare,
And yet poor Edwin was no vulgar boy; Deep thought oft seem'd to fix his infant eye. Dainties he heeded not, nor gaude, nor toy, Save one short pipe of rudest minstrelsy. Silent when glad; affectionate though shy; And now his look was most demurely sad, And now he laugh'd aloud, yet none knew why. The neighbours star'd and sigh'd, yet bless'd the lad; Some deem'd him wondrous wise, and some believ'd him mad.
But why should I his childish feats display? Concourse, and noise, and toil, he ever fled : Nor cared to mingle in the clamorous fray Of squabbling imps, but to the forest sped, Or roam'd at large the lonely mountain's head; Or, where the maze of some bewilder'd stream To deep untrodden groves his footsteps led, There would he wander wild, till Phœbus' beam, Shot from the western cliff, releas'd the weary team,
The exploit of strength, dexterity, or speed,
By trap, or net; by arrow, or by sling;
He wish'd to be the guardian, not the king, Tyrant far less, or traitor of the field; And sure the sylvan reign unbloody joy might yield.
Lo! where the stripling, wrapt in wonder, roves Beneath the precipice o'erhung with pine; And sees, on high, amidst the encircling groves, From cliff to cliff the foaming torrents shine: While waters, woods, and winds, in concert join, And echo swells the chorus to the skies. Would Edwin this majestic scene resign For aught the huntsman's puny craft supplies? Ah! no he better knows great Nature's charms, to prize.
And oft he trac'd the uplands to survey,
But, lo! the sun appears! and heaven, earth, ocean,