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The poems of James Austen
 

 

 


An Elegy
written at Kintbury, Berks and
addressed to Fulwar Craven Fowle.


Amid the temperate hours of evening grave,
Oft was I wont in thoughtful mood to stray,
Where Kennet’s crystal stream with limpid wave
Thro’ Kintbury’s meadows takes it’s winding way.
Full oft amid the solemn gloom of night,
When thick descending falls the balmy dew,
When Cynthia’s silver lamp darts paler light
Along it’s banks my path would I pursue.

There shadowy forms unnumbered oft arise,
And lightly tipping o’er the mossy green
Noted by fancy’s visionary eyes
In various shapes, & mystic forms are seen.
There Contemplation too, sweet placid maid,
Beneath a shell-framed grotto lies behind
In simple state of virgin white arrayed
Her auburn locks loose floating to the wind.

These her loved haunts fair Solitude too calls,
Where no rude sound her peaceful ear invades
Save the hoarse water’s din that rushing falls
And distant murmurs from the deep cascades.
Save that from yonder oak-crowned airy steep
Where the dank grass & tufted weeds among
The gothic Abbey’s mould’ring ruins peep,
The night bird screams her melancholy song.

Here will it oft the attentive mind amuse
To view the maddening crowd’s tumultuous strife
Where each some glittering gew-gaw still pursues
Thro all the tedious hours of busy life.
While these with pomp & glitter struck, delight
With toilsome painful steps, & marches slow,
To gain Ambition’s frail & tottering height
And stand conspicuous to the crowd below.

With unremitting zeal the Pedant sage
While his dim lamp consumes the midnight oil
Turns o’er the dusty folio’s antique page
Nor dreams his labour ought but pleasing toil.
No wave’s wild war the careful Merchant fears,
When to the winds he spreads his swelling sails,
Intent on gain he inattentive hears
The winds that hoarsely blow in rougher gales.

Not so the Miser he with look profound
Less than his dashing gold regarding rest
Takes e’re he sleeps each night his wonted round
And views with. anxious eyes his wealth-confining chest.
How large the Crew that shunning business’ round
In genial feasts expand the joyous soul;
Anacreon-like their brows with myrtle crowned
When stretched at ease they drain th’inspiring bowl.

His fond pursuit let each one then enjoy
Nor er’e shall I with envy view their fate
Whilst solid bliss that ne’er can cloy
Thro’ life’s retired vale my steps await
Place me in farthest Scythia’s trackless waste,
Where no fair prospect the dull way beguiles,
Whose dreary hills no sweets of summer taste
No vintage reddens, & no harvest smiles;.

Yet with thy converse blest each gloomy scene
Each desert hill a fertile look would wear,
And the east wind that o’er the waste howls keen
Should to my partial sense a zephyr mild appear.

 

 



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