A Walk at Enfield

A Walk at Enfield.

The clock’s struck three, and lo! Philander comes

True (as the needle to the northern pole)

To his appointed hour, by friendship led,

To guide Miranda and her friend, in paths

Of smiling verdure, where, before their feet

Had never trod: he for awhile lays by

Sublimer studies, to enjoy the sweets

Gay summer hangs on every bush and spray,

To view great nature in her rich attire,

And in converse agreeable, beguile

A cheerful hour, stol’n from the sciences.

Calm is the day, unruffled by a storm,

Th’ etherial heavens wear their azure robe,

Phoebus at times puts forth his golden beams

And smiles in orient glories on the earth,

Then, lest the weary traveler should faint

Beneath his sultry ray, kindly withdraws,

And leaves a cool refreshing shade around.

Hark how the little warblers of the grove

Attune their softest songs to charm the ear

And sooth the heart with sweetest melody,

As thro’ green vallies,[1] o’er the flow’ry lawn

We rove, delighted with the beauteous scene,

Or up the gently rising hill ascend,

Or climb the steeper heights with laboring steps;

Sweet labour, where fatigue is overpaid

By such a prospect, such delights as these,

Peace, heavenly peace triumphant in the soul,

And the dear voice of friendship in my ear;

The laughing vallies, and the grove crown’d hills,

And universal nature smiling round,

All gay, all happy – how the distant town

Sinks from our view; low in a vale it lies,

Half hid in woods: hail lovely shades, the seat

Of contemplation and retirement sweet,

But for awhile farewell, we bid adieu

Till the fair star of evening call us home

To the lov’d spot where God and Paulus dwell,

And science and religion call their own.

The wide spread heath, the waving forest crowns

The distant prospect; hill o’er hill ascends

Sublimely grand, and kiss the bending skies,

While the clear river draws its humid train,

In soft meanders thro’ the verdant meads,

Diffusing health and fruitfulness around.

Here might we dwell, and with astonish’d eyes

Behold creation in her fairest dress:

Here might we dwell, and with admiring hearts

Adore the God whose boundless glories shine

Above, beneath, around: But objects new

Invite us – then adieu ye grove-crown’d hills,

The wide spread heath, the river’s humid train,

And humble Enfield, dwelling in the vale. –

Lo! as we turn, fresh wonders rise in view,

Enamell’d meadows spangled o’er with gold,

Or green with corn just rising in the ear,

While gentle Zephyr on his silken wings

Bears the rich fragrance of the new mown hay.

And see, in yonder field, a rural train

With sprightly vigour, active diligence,

Pursue their wholesome toil: they toss and turn

The tender grass that ripens as it lies

In the bright splendours of the lamp of day:

Placid and cheerful as a summer’s eve,

And lest their spirits fail before the hour

Of eve proclaim their pleasant labours o’er,

They chat, they smile, and with united voice,

They speed the lagging moments with a song.

But say, Philander, who is that appears

Lord of the pastures, on a goodly steed

He sits, but with a melancholy air

Surveys unmov’d the beauties of the scene,

And clad in sable colour’d weeds of woe?

’Tis Clio, late the happy, late the blest,

If aught below the skies can bear the name

Of bliss or happiness; but ah! ’twas frail,

A fleeting joy, death with an envious frown

High rear’d a fatal dart, and lodg’d it deep

In his Lucinda’s bosom; in her tomb

Lies clio’s bliss: in vain the charming spring

And rose-crown’d summer smile, in vain for him

Ten thousand sweets arise, his sadden’d heart

Chearless remains, so Jacob mourn’d his son,

And the sweet Psalmist – his lov’d Jonathan.

See down the hill’s slope side, a traveler pass,

A weak old man, infirm with age and care,

Tott’ring and slow, his aspect spare and mean

Awakes the tend’rest pow’rs of sympathy.

Ah feeble age! and must thou groan beneath

Th’ oppressive wallet, and penurious want?

But soft – methinks upon a nearer view,

’Tis Graspall’s[2] little soul inspires that frame,

So lank and meager; let compassion wipe

Her tearful eye, and indignation rise,

Gen’rous displeasure, ’gainst the meanest sin,

The meanest passion, sordid love of gold.

Graspall counts o’er his bags, but not enjoys

The treasures they contain, forbid to use

Life’s cordial sweets, by avarice forbid,

He counts his thousands, and he yet is poor.

See how the sprightly boy with nimble feet,

Trips lightly on, still singing as he goes;

His heart is blithe,[3] content sits smiling there,

While ruddy health, with bright vivacity

Glows in his cheek, and sparkles in his eye.

Now, to the summit of the hill arriv’d,

How fair a prospect opens to our view!

The flow’ry vale beneath, the gurgling brook

Whose gentle murmurs sooth the list’ning ear:

On either hand the chequer’d meads that rise,

Or fall, in hill or dell, as best dispos’d

By the great Maker’s hand, in that blest day

When angels sung creation’s mighty work

To harps of gold. – See thro’ the distant woods

A glassy lake appear; how smooth, how calm,

Unruffled by a breeze: the vale invites,

Let us descend and taste its humble charms.

Soft be our steps, and watchful be our eyes,

Lest with a thoughtless mind, and heedless feet

We crush the busy tribes that swarm around,

And bury millions in a foot of sand.

“Go to the ant thou sluggard,” saith the wise,

“And in her school learn prudence:” how they toil,

Pleas’d with the prospect of a sunny day,

They quit their cities, and to labour throng

In num’rous armies, wise to gather food,

The bounties which the God of providence

From his all-gracious hand scatters around,

Amply to fill their winter’s magazines,

That when the low’ring skies and driving storms

Confine them to their little earthly cells,

The free community may feel no want,

But live in plenty, tho’ without the sun.

Here let us sit, beneath this age oak,

Whose wide spread branches shade the gentle stream,

Whose waters softly flowing, scarce forbid

The trav’ller’s foot to reach the distant side.

Hark how the nightingale and robin pour

Their softest notes, their sweetest music forth

To entertain us, from the neighb’ring grove.

The cuckow too his constant theme repeats;

Ah welcome stranger! my enraptur’d ear

Shall listen to thy voice with more delight

Than all the feather’d choristers beside.

But while the airy serenade proceeds,

Come gentle friends, and let us join the lay;

Let hill and valley sing, and all the race

Of creatures join in one harmonious song

To hail the glorious God, whose fiat call’d

Creation forth from the chaotic womb

Of night and darkness to illustrious birth,

And bade it shine a noble universe

Worthy the mighty builder. Raise we still

A higher note, a more triumphant strain,

Jesus the mighty builder of the skies,

Who calls the earth the footstool of his throne,

Bow’d his majestic head on calvary,

And cry’d, “Tis finish’d:” then redemption rose,

Redemption all triumphant, all divine,

Let his redeem’d exult, with boundless joy

Sing the Creator, the Redeemer God.

High let their songs arise and pierce the clouds,

And join the hallelujahs of the skies,

Where our Immanuel reigns enthron’d in light,

The God of glory and the God of grace.

Farewell sweet fields, thou gurgling brook adieu;

And all ye airy warblers of the grove:

The setting sun adorns the western clouds

With gay magnificence, and the cool eve,

With her fair rising star calls us away

To other scenes, still pleasing, still serene;

For beauteous is the spot where Paulus dwells,

And humble Enfield dwelling in the vale,

Partakes the bounties of her Maker’s hand

In rich profusion. See her spires arise,

Half hid in verdant groves, how bright they glow

In Sol’s departing rays: Yon antient pile

Whose venerable tow’rs from age to age,

Sacred to heaven, has brav’d the shocks of time.

There heroes sleep; may their dust repose

In peaceful silence, till the trump of God

Awake the world and bid it sleep no more.

Behold yon pensive trav’ller silent stand,

Leaning like Jacob, on his oaken staff;

He bends beneath the weight of num’rous years,

And ev’ry thought is follow’d by a sigh.

So when our fainting spirits tire and lag,

As on we journey up the heavenly road,

May the firm promise of a faithful God

Support our steps; there may we safely lean

By stedfast faith, and rest our weary souls,

Look backward on the wonders of his hand,

Look forward to the crown beyond the veil,

And ev’ry rising thought be wing’d with joy,

O’erflowing gratitude, and humble love;

Till from the skies his winged messengers

Descend, to bear us to our Father God;

To walk the golden streets, to gather fruit

From life’s immortal tree, and prove the bliss

That blossoms in the paradise of God;

A brighter paradise than Adam lost,

An Eden purchas’d by a Savior’s blood.

There shall we sing his boundless name, and fall

Before his throne in extacies divine;

No more to sigh, to sin and part no more,

But immortal triumphs to exult

With the bright sons of morn, as bright as they,

While everlasting ages roll along.

Text: Divine Poems and Essays, 1791, pp. 201-08.