An idle swain late chanc'd to roam
Beneath a grove's leaf-lattic'd dome,
That near a verdant mount was plac'd
Whose brow no title e'er had grac'd
Till nymphs declared the mount should claim
Sweet Harmony's inspiring name.
Here, as the swain at even strayed,
Wooed by the grove's sequester'd shade,
With thoughts unfix'd, and vacant eye,
And idly sad, he scarce knew why;
A mournful spirit of the wood,
Touch'd haply, by his kindred mood,
Soft-sighing from a hawthorn near,
Thus whisper'd in his wond'ring ear.
"A sprite I was, in happier times,
Disporting in the favor'd climes
Of early Greece; when freedom's ray
Bade mirth through all her regions play;
When wood-nymphs with their huntress-queen,
The muses and the loves were seen
To sport, like fawns, beside each rill,
And deck, like flow'rets, every hill,
'Twas then I serv'd the lighter joys
Of rural nymphs and sylvan boys;
And, sportive as the summer airs,
Exulted in my frolic cares.
"Oft, to a playful zephyr chang'd,
Along the reedy banks I rang'd;
Or, sighing o'er the oaten field,
I tried the note each stalk would yield,
In quest of dulcet tones to suit
Some favor'd fawn's or shepherd's flute.
"Oft, in a fleecy vapor's guise,
The zephyrs bore me to the skies:
Where, 'midst the clouds with thunder fraught,
The rainbow's brightest tints I caught;
Then, melting into finest dews,
Distributed the lovely hues
To opening buds, or full-blown flowers,
Round naiad's couch, or wood-nymph's bowers.
"Oft, in a virgin lily's bell,
I caught the purest dews that fell,
With chaste suffusion to supply
Some weeping Muse's languid eye.
For, tears that from the Muses flow,
Unlike the drops of vulgar wo,
Emit the dew's inconstant gleam,
And soon are chas'd by pleasure's beam---
"Dear airy partners in delight!
Who skimm'd, like mists, the mountain's height,
Or danc'd along the limpid stream
Illum'd by freedom's golden beam!
Ye perish'd in the floods and gales
That ruin'd all our smiling vales,
And chill'd and wither'd every bloom
In tyranny's detested gloom!
"A fiend that in the tempest flew
On wing still wet with stygian dew
Rapt me in a hurling blast
Athwart the ocean's dreary vast;
And set me, with infernal spell,
In this sequester'd grove to dwell.
Here, in my lonely prison bound,
Beset with dire enchantments round,
I've seen whole ages ling'ring go,
With scarce a solace for my wo;
Till late, beneath the neighb'ring shades,
Methought a band of Tempe's maids,
With all their wonted mirth elate,
Came, destin'd by relenting fate,
Their long, long rovings here to cease,
And charm my anguish into peace.
For, as they gambol'd o'er the green,
Once more I saw Arcadia's scene;
Again I heard each well-lov'd voice
That bade the Aonian hills rejoice.
But soon the lovely vision pass'd.
Through lonely shades now sweeps the blast.
Where, late, the fairy-footed throng
Prolong'd the dance, or pour'd the song.
If e'er thy bosom, gentle swain,
Was touch'd with sympathetic pain,
Hie thee to where the nymphs now dwell,
And all my sorrows kindly tell.
And say, if e'er this lone retreat
Their lovely band again shall greet,
I'll wake my long-neglected powers;
Refine the dews, new-tint the flowers.
I'll fringe the trees with speckled moss,
And give their leaves a finer gloss.
The painted fly shall learn to fling
Sweet odors from his gaudy wing.
I'll winnow, with my silken sails,
Each noxious breath that taints the gales;
With sweeter strains the birds inspire,
And lead, myself, the tuneful choir.