James Thomson

(11 September 1700 – 27 August 1748 / Ednam in Roxburghshire, Scotland)

Hymn on Solitude


Hail, mildly pleasing solitude,
Companion of the wise and good;
But, from whose holy, piercing eye,
The herd of fools, and villains fly.
Oh! how I love with thee to walk,
And listen to thy whisper'd talk,
Which innocence, and truth imparts,
And melts the most obdurate hearts.

A thousand shapes you wear with ease,
And still in every shape you please.
Now wrapt in some mysterious dream,
A lone philosopher you seem;
Now quick from hill to vale you fly,
And now you sweep the vaulted sky;
A shepherd next, you haunt the plain,
And warble forth your oaten strain;
A lover now, with all the grace
Of that sweet passion in your face:
Then, calm'd to friendship, you assume
The gentle-looking Hertford's bloom,
As, with her Musidora, she,
(Her Musidora fond of thee)
Amid the long withdrawing vale,
Awakes the rival'd nightingale.

Thine is the balmy breath of morn,
Just as the dew-bent rose is born;
And while meridian fervours beat,
Thine is the woodland dumb retreat;
But chief, when evening scenes decay,
And the faint landskip swims away,
Thine is the doubtful soft decline,
And that best hour of musing thine.

Descending angels bless thy train,
The virtues of the sage, and swain;
Plain Innocence in white array'd,
Before thee lifts her fearless head:
Religion's beams around thee shine,
And cheer thy glooms with light divine:
About thee sports sweet Liberty;
And rapt Urania sings to thee.

Oh, let me pierce thy secret cell!
And in thy deep recesses dwell!
Perhaps from Norwood's oak-clad hill,
When meditation has her fill,
I just may cast my careless eyes
Where London's spiry turrets rise,
Think of its crimes, its cares, its pain,
Then shield me in the woods again.

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003

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