Henry James Pye Poems >>
Faringdon Hill. Book I

A Poem In Two Books


Now with meridian force the orb of day
Pours on our throbbing heads his sultry ray;
O'er the wide concave of the blue serene
No fleecy cloud or vapory mist is seen;
The panting flocks and herds, at ease reclin'd,
Catch the faint eddies of the flitting wind;
To silence hush'd is every rural sound;
And noontide spreads a solemn stillness round
Alike our languid limbs would now forsake
The open meadow, and the tangled brake;
Here Sol intensely glows, and there the trees
Mix their thick foliage, and exclude the breeze.-
Come let us quit these scenes, and climb yon brow,
Yon airy summit where the Zephyrs blow;
While waving o'er our heads the welcome shade,
Shuts out the sunbeams from the upland glade:
No steep ascent we scale with feverish toil,
No rocks alarm us, and no mountains foil;
But as we gently tread the rising green,
Large, and more large extends the spacious scene;
Till on the verdant top our labour crown'd,
The wide Horizon is our only bound.

What various objects scatter'd round us lie,
And charm on every side the curious eye!-
Amidst such ample stores, how shall the Muse
Know where to turn her sight, and which to choose?-

Here lofty mountains lift their azure heads;
There it's green lap the grassy meadow spreads;
Enclosures here the sylvan scene divide;
There plains extended spread their harvests wide;
Here oaks, their mossy limbs wide stretching, meet
And form impervious thickets at our feet;
Through aromatic heaps of ripening hay,
There silver Isis wins her winding way;
And many a tower, and many a spire between,
Shoots from the groves, and cheers the rural scene.

Still as I look, fresh objects seem to rise;
And lovelier pictures strike my raptur'd eyes,
As young remembrance paints each sylvan glade,
Where full of glee my careless childhood stray'd.
Though other hills perhaps as large a field
To warm description's fairy powers may yield,
As rich a prospect to the sight display,
O'er meads as verdant, and o'er plains as gay;
Yet, when in Memory's fond mirror shewn,
The country smiles with beauties not it's own;
Her fair reflection new delight supplies,
And every floweret blooms with deeper dyes;
The landscape seems to brighten while I gaze,
And Phoebus shines with more than summer rays;
O'er the high woods a livelier verdure reigns,
And more luxuriant harvests deck the plains;
Even when fell winter spreads his mantle drear,
And big with snow descends the inclement year,
Let but her glass reflect the dismal view,
The wither'd trees their wonted charms renew;
The feather'd tribes resume their chearing lay,
And spring her odors, and his beams the day;
December yields to April's milder power,
And vernal blossoms grace the wintry hour.

O sacred Nature! Nymph divinely bright!
Unfold thy various prospects to my sight;
With thee o'er breezy uplands let me rove,
Or tread the devious labyrinth of the grove;
When from the east the glorious orb of day
Shoots o'er the burnish'd cliff his golden ray,
When splendid in meridian light array'd,
His piercing beams the woodland gloom pervade;
When wrap'd in misty evening's sober reign
The increasing darkness steals across the plain;
When o'er the dusky stole of silent night
The Delian Goddess throws her silver light;
When gently o'er the flower-empurpled vale
The vernal Zephyrs breathe a genial gale;
When, as fierce Summer's sultry beams descend,
With blushing fruit the loaded branches bend;
When Autumn crowns the hills with waving corn,
And pours profusion from his twisted horn;
While deepening shade on shade the woods are seen,
From the full crimson to the faded green;
Or when, it's leafy honors swept away,
The scatter'd forest yields to winter's sway;
When the cascade, by icy fetters tied,
Must cease to murmur, and the stream to glide;
While blows the storm, or falls the chilling rain,
Or fleecy snows o'erspread the whiten'd plain;
In every hour and season let me trace,
Enchanting Nature! thy transcendant grace;
With eager eyes thy lovely form survey,
And bless with grateful voice thy boundless sway.
Happy the youth! on whose high honor'd head
The sacred Nine their fostering influence shed,
Though they refuse the lasting wreath, whose bloom
Shall grace his living brow, and deck his tomb;
For the fresh laurel give a sickly flower,
Boast of a day, and glory of an hour;
Yet taught by them his ravish'd eyes explore
The choicest objects of thy charming store:
For him their strains the sylvan warblers breathe,
For him fair Maia twines her flowery wreath;
Fragrant for him the morning breezes blow,
The poplar trembles, and the fountains flow;
Thy various beauties strike his raptur'd breast,
And Nature doubly charms by Fancy dress'd.

Enough has Fancy, frantic with delight,
O'er the gay region stretch'd her vagrant flight;
Let sage Experience now of brow severe
Arrest her soaring in her bold career:
Nor thou, historic Truth, thy aid refuse,
But join the labors of the rural Muse;
With friendly care the pleasing toil divide,
That while she paints the blooming landscape's pride,
Thy voice each storied relick may explain,
And tell the former fortunes of the plain.

First to the north direct your roving eyes,
Where fair Oxonia's verdant hills arise;
There Burford's downs invite the healthful chace,
Or urge the emulous coursers to the race;
While as with agile limbs the ascent they scale,
Rush down the steep, or sweep across the vale,
Exulting Hope, by turns, and chilling Fear
In the pale cheek and eager eye appear;
Each generous fire in every heart is lost,
By fortune favor'd, or by fortune cross'd;
Flies every Virtue, withers every Grace,
And all the selfish Passions take their place.

Emerging from the thicket's bosom, there
See Bamptom's pointed steeple rise in air:
To farther distance now the prospect drawn,
Lo Witney's spire diversifies the lawn!
Whose busy loom to balmy sleep supplies
A guard from wintry cold and freezing skies:
There Whichwood's oaks thick-waving o'er the glade
Yield to the salvage tribe an ample shade:
And in the horizon faintly ting'd with blue
Thy woods, imperial Blenheim! close the view,
Nature between one verdant carpet spreads
Of fruitful pastures and enamel'd meads;
Whose bending reeds, and osier'd banks among,
Fair Isis rolls her virgin waves along;
Her horn while Plenty pours on every side,
And Pales revels where her waters glide.

Hail, lovely Isis! dear parental stream!
The pride of Commerce, and the Poet's theme:
Though, vain of borrow'd pomp, imperious Thame,
Deck'd with the praise which ought to wait thy name,
Triumphant pours his swelling waves along,
Hail'd by the bard, and dignified in song;
Thy silver urn the affluent tide bestows,
And from thy source the plenteous current flows:
Such is the fate that female honors find,
When to a mate unequal fondly join'd.
O had thy stream! like Arethuse of old,
It's virgin waters unpolluted roll'd,
Old Thame through humble vales had pass'd alone,
Sung by no bard, unnoticed, and unknown;
While thine had been confess'd the unrival'd pride,
To waft in commerce with each rising tide,
With foreign spoils Augusta's walls to greet,
And lay the nations tribute at her feet:
Thine been the boast to flow, with current clear,
Through meads to British Freedom ever dear,
Where the bold Barons in a happy hour
Wrested her charter from a tyrant's power;
While grateful bards contended to rehearse
Thy virgin glories in no vulgar verse:
For long as Windsor rais'd her sylvan shade
Or Cooper's swelling hill o'erlook'd the glade,
Sacred to fame thy stream had flow'd along,
In Pope's soft lays, or Denham's sounding song.
Then as thy lucid current gently stray'd
Through fair Etona's academic shade;
While by thy side his silver Lyre he strung,
Gray to thy wave his dulcet notes had sung:
And many a bard in Granta's vale who strays,
And tunes to hoary Cam his votive lays,
Whose youthful Fancy and Invention new
Cull'd the fresh flowers that on thy borders grew,
Had join'd to celebrate thy classic fame,
And half his tribute paid to Isis' name.

And lo! where heathy Cumner's envious height
Hides all thy letter'd triumph from my sight!
Where 'midst fair Rhedicina's gothic towers,
Her hallow'd cloisters, and Pierian bowers,
Isis her silver urn inclines, and views
The votive wreath of every grateful Muse.
No rivulet there from thee their tribute draws,
Usurps thy fame, or shares their just applause:
But gentle Cherwell hears with joy their lays,
And loves the strain that chants a sister's praise;
Pleas'd if the Muse, to grace her head, bestows
One roseate flower that on thy Margin blows.
Nor shall thy reeds in future times complain
Of slighted worth and Thame's usurp'd domain;
That his too favor'd stream with princely waves
The crowded walls of proud Augusta laves;
The votive verse that Pope and Denham raise,
And breathe to him the swelling note of praise;
For him that Gray the strain unequal'd frames,
And sings the moral ode to hoary Thames;
Since fair Oxonia's polish'd sons unite
To vindicate thy classic current's right;
Since every Muse to thee consigns her lays,
And every Science on thy border strays;
And every Grace, and every Art, whose powers
In symmetry have rais'd her d