Sweet Bard of Nature, I return to Thee.
As Exiles to their Home, Ah would “to me
Return” those genuine pleasures once possess’d
E’er Sorrow’s passing touch my Soul depress’d,
That glow of Heart, that exquisite delight,
When nature’s beauties burst upon my sight.
Each Sound was Melody, each Breeze was balm,
And o’er my spirit shed a blissful Calm;
Though Universal Beauty smil’d around,
Some Charm peculiar in each Scene I found.
The lonely vale which Hills and Woods inclose
(Dear soothing Scene of Silence and repose),
The bold bare Summit whence the astonish’d Eye
Can many a distant Hill and Spire descry,
All, All, with rapture fill’d my bounding heart,
Nature’s own feelings undebas’d by Art.
The wide stretch’d Dawn of brightest purest green,
Where Heaven’s own Curtain only bounds the Scene,
How has my Soul expanded as I view’d
And seem’d to stretch into Infinitude!
Lov’d Scene beheld no more! for modern Toil
Has alter’d ev’n the Aspect of the Soil.
Ah whither borne – Oh my forsaken Home!
O’er thy lov’d Haunts I seem again to roam.
I hear thy Sky Lark’s warble on the Wing,
And feel the freshness of returning Spring;
Though other Scenes more beautiful may be,
No Scene can give such Extasy to me.
Sweet Bard of Nature, to thy matchless powers,
I owe this retrospect of Life’s first Hours;
Ev’n then I dwelt enraptur’d on thy page
And now it charms me in maturer Age.
Beneath this sloping Woodland’s beauteous Swell
With Thee and Solitude fain would I dwell;
With other themes disgusted, here my Mind
Its first, its last Felicity shall find.
Ah hush that direful Sound! which even here
Reaches in murmurs my affrighted Ear.
These tales of Terror let me hear no more,
Of mangled Thousands on some foreign Shore.
Oh ye mad Murderers, why this waste of Life?
Why vex the World with never ending Strife?
What to the Insect that expires to day,
Tomorrow’s softest shower or brightest Ray?
Can the loud Shouts of Victory e’er recall
The countless Millions who in Battle fall?
What to the Widowed Wife, the Childless Sire,
The fame their dying Relatives acquire?
Poor recompence, for Joys forever fled
And the best part of their Existence dead!
Far other themes these pleasing Scenes suggest.
I feel their influence tranquilize my breast,
And while one Universal Song of Praise
Earth, Air, and Heaven to their Creator raise,
My swelling Heart can feel nor utter more.
Sweet Bard, with Thee in Silence I adore.
Text: STE 5/3; also Whelan, Nonconformist Women Writers, vol. 3, pp. 157-58. Reference is to the popular poem, The Seasons, by the Scottish poet James Thomson (1700-48). The poem appeared in four parts between 1726 and 1730.