Rural Rambles - The Village - Poem by Ebenezer Elliott
Sweet village! where my early days were pass'd,
Though parted long, we meet, we meet at last!
Like friends, imbrown'd by many a sun and wind,
Much changed in mien, but more in heart and mind,
Fair, after many years, thy fields appear,
With joy beheld, but not without a tear.
I met thy little river miles before
I saw again my natal cottage door:
Unchanged as truth, the river welcomed home
The wanderer of the sea's heart-breaking foam;
But the changed cottage, like a time-tried friend,
Smote on my heart-strings, at my journey's end.
For now no lilies bloom the door beside!
The very house-leek on the roof hath died;
The window'd gable's ivy bower is gone,
The rose departed from the porch of stone;
The pink, the violet, have fled away,
The polyanthus and auricula!
And round my home, once bright with flowers, I found
Not one square yard, one foot of garden ground.
Path of the quiet fields! that oft of yore
Call'd me at morn on Shenstone's page to pore;
Oh! poor man's pathway! where, 'at evening's close,'
He stopp'd to pluck the woodbine and the rose,
Shaking the dew-drop from the wild-brier bowers,
That stoop'd beneath their load of summer flowers,
Then eyed the west, still bright with fading flame,
As whistling homeward by the wood he came;
Sweet, dewy, sunny, flowery footpath, thou
Art gone for ever, like the poor man's cow!
No more the wandering townsman's Sabbath smile,
No more the hedger, waiting on the stile
For tardy Jane; no more the muttering bard,
Startling the heifer near the lone farm-yard;
No more the pious youth, with book in hand,
Spelling the words he fain would understand,-
Shall bless thy mazes, when the village bell
Sounds o'er the river, soften'd up the dell.
Here youngling fishers, in the grassy lane,
Purloin'd their tackle from the brood-mare's mane;
And truant urchins, by the river's brink,
Caught the fledged throstle as it stoop'd to drink;
Or with the ramping colt, all joyous play'd,
Or scared the owlet in the blue-ball shade.
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