How blest is he, who, free from care,
As once, 'tis said, even mortals were,
Unknown to brokers, bonds, or bills,
His own paternal acres, tills.
No midnight storm along the deep,
Nor brazen trump, to break his sleep;
Far from the Forum's pompous prate,
And thresholds of the lordly great;
The wanton vine, 'tis his, to wed,
To poplar trim, with lofty head;
And, pruning off each worthless shoot,
Engraft the slip, from choicer root.
Sometimes, where yonder vale descends,
His lowing herds, at ease, he tends
Shears, now, his sheep, with tottering feet;
Now, stores the hive's delicious sweet;
And now, when autumn smiling round,
Erects his head, with fruitage, crowned,
Plucks, with delight, the melting pear,
Or purple grape, of flavour rare;
What thanks, and offerings then recall
His care, who gives, and guards them all!
Sometimes, where streams are gliding by,
Stretched on the grass, he loves to lie,
Beneath some old and spreading oak,
Where rooks reside, and ravens croak,
While crystal fountains murmur round,
And lull his senses, with their sound.
But, when the raging winter god
Has sent his snows, and storms, abroad,
He scours the country, round and round,
To rouse the boar, with horse and hound;
With subtle art, his traps and nets,
To catch the tender thrush, he sets
Lays for the crane, some stouter snare,
Or takes, delicious treat the hare.
'Mid sports like these, unknown to ill,
What love, can cross! what cares, can kill!
But happiest then, if, while he roam,
His wife and children dear, at home--
(A modest matron she, and fair,
Despite alike of sun and air--
The swelling udder, duly drain,
And close the sheltering fold, again:
Pile high, with seasoned wood, the fire,
To warm and dry, their wearied sire;
Then, filled one small, but generous cup,
The unbought banquet, quick serve up.
Such fare be mine! I ask no more;
No shell-fish, from the Lucrine shore;
No turbot rare, nor, driven from far,
By eastern winds, the costly char.
Oh! not the fowl, from Afric shore,
Nor grouse, from Asiatic moor,
Were half such luxury, to me,
As olives, plucked from mine own tree;
A dish of dock, that grows in fallows;
A dainty mess, of wholesome mallows
A joint, on high and holy days,
Of roasted lamb, my board to grace;
And, now and then, a rescued kid,
Which ravening wolf, had stolen and hid.
'Mid feasts like these, to sit, and see
My flocks wind homeward o'er the lea;
The sober ox, returning first,
With languid neck, and plough reversed;
And men and maids, the farm-house swarm,
Around the hearth-stone, gathered warm.
"What life so blest!" cried wealthy B-----
"I'm done with stocks. A farm for me!"
Cash, loaned at five, called in; he went,
And--put it out, at six per cent!