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James Thomson (1700-1748)

The Seasons: Summer

(excerpt)


              1     From brightening fields of ether fair-disclos'd,
              2Child of the sun, refulgent Summer comes,
              3In pride of youth, and felt through nature's depth:
              4He comes, attended by the sultry Hours
              5And ever-fanning Breezes, on his way;
              6While, from his ardent look, the turning Spring
              7Averts her blushful face; and earth and skies,
              8All-smiling, to his hot dominion leaves.

              9     Hence, let me haste into the mid-wood shade,
            10Where scarce a sunbeam wanders through the gloom
            11And on the dark-green grass, beside the brink
            12Of haunted stream, that by the roots of oak
            13Rolls o'er the rocky channel, lie at large,
            14And sing the glories of the circling year.

            15     Come, Inspiration! from thy hermit-seat,
            16By mortal seldom found: may Fancy dare,
            17From thy fix'd serious eye, and raptur'd glance
            18Shot on surrounding heaven, to steal one look
            19Creative of the poet, every power
            20Exalting to an ecstasy of soul.

...

          352     Now swarms the village o'er the jovial mead;
          353The rustic youth, brown with meridian toil,
          354Healthful and strong; full as the summer-rose
          355Blown by prevailing suns, the ruddy maid,
          356Half-naked, swelling on the sight, and all
          357Her kindled graces burning o'er her cheek.
          358Even stooping age is here; and infant-hands
          359Trail the long rake, or with the fragrant load
          360O'ercharg'd, amid the kind oppression roll.
          361Wide flies the tedded grain; all in a row
          362Advancing broad, or wheeling round the field,
          363They spread the breathing harvest to the sun
          364That throws refreshful round a rural smell;
          365Or, as they rake the green-appearing ground,
          366And drive the dusky wave along the mead,
          367The russet hay-cock rises thick behind,
          368In order gay: while, heard from dale to dale,
          369Waking the breeze, resounds the blended voice
          370Of happy labour, love, and social glee.

          371     Or rushing thence, in one diffusive band,
          372They drive the troubled flocks, by many a dog
          373Compell'd, to where the mazy-running brook
          374Forms a deep pool; this bank abrupt and high,
          375And that fair-spreading in a pebbled shore.
          376Urg'd to the giddy brink, much is the toil,
          377The clamour much of men, and boys, and dogs,
          378Ere the soft, fearful people to the flood
          379Commit their woolly sides. And oft the swain,
          380On some impatient seizing, hurls them in:
          381Embolden'd then, nor hesitating more,
          382Fast, fast, they plunge amid the flashing wave,
          383And, panting, labour to the farther shore.
          384Repeated this, till deep the well-wash'd fleece
          385Has drunk the flood, and from his lively haunt
          386The trout is banish'd by the sordid stream;
          387Heavy, and dripping, to the breezy brow
          388Slow move the harmless race; where, as they spread
          389Their swelling treasures to the sunny ray,
          390Inly disturb'd, and wondering what this wild
          391Outrageous tumult means, their loud complaints
          392The country fill; and, toss'd from rock to rock,
          393Incessant bleatings run around the hills.
          394At last, of snowy white, the gather'd flocks
          395Are in the wattled pen innumerous press'd,
          396Head above head; and, rang'd in lusty rows,
          397The shepherds sit, and whet the sounding shears.
          398The housewife waits to roll her fleecy stores,
          399With all her gay-dress'd maids attending round.
          400One, chief, in gracious dignity enthron'd,
          401Shines o'er the rest, the pastoral queen, and rays
          402Her smiles, sweet-beaming, on her shepherd-king;
          403While the glad circle round them yield their souls
          404To festive mirth, and wit that knows no gall.
          405Meantime, their joyous task goes on apace:
          406Some mingling stir the melted tar, and some,
          407Deep on the new-shorn vagrant's heaving side
          408To stamp his master's cipher ready stand;
          409Others the unwilling wether drag along;
          410And, glorying in his might, the sturdy boy
          411Holds by the twisted horns th' indignant ram.

...

          432'Tis raging noon; and, vertical, the sun
          433Darts on the head direct his forceful rays.
          434O'er heaven and earth, far as the ranging eye
          435Can sweep, a dazzling deluge reigns; and all,
          436From pole to pole, is undistinguish'd blaze.
          437In vain the sight, dejected to the ground,
          438Stoops for relief; thence hot-ascending streams
          439And keen reflection pain. Deep to the root
          440Of vegetation parch'd, the cleaving fields
          441And slippery lawn an arid hue disclose,
          442Blast fancy's blooms, and wither even the soul.
          443Echo no more returns the cheerful sound
          444Of sharpening scythe: the mower, sinking, heaps
          445O'er him the humid hay, with flowers perfum'd;
          446And scarce a chirping grasshopper is heard
          447Through the dumb mead. Distressful nature pants;
          448The very streams look languid from afar;
          449Or, through th' unshelter'd glade, impatient, seem
          450To hurl into the covert of the grove.

          451     Welcome, ye shades! ye bowery thickets, hail!
          452Ye lofty pines! ye venerable oaks!
          453Ye ashes wild, resounding o'er the steep!
          454Delicious in your shelter to the soul,
          455As to the hunted hart the sallying spring,
          456Or stream full-flowing, that his swelling sides
          457Laves, as he floats along the herbag'd brink.
          458Cool, through the nerves, your pleasing comfort glides;
          459The heart beats glad; the fresh-expanded eye
          460And ear resume their watch; the sinews knit;
          461And life shoots swift through all the lighten'd limbs.

          462     Around the adjoining brook that purls along
          463The vocal grove, now fretting o'er a rock,
          464Now scarcely moving through a reedy pool,
          465Now starting to a sudden stream, and now
          466Gently diffus'd into a limpid plain,
          467A various group the herds and flocks compose,
          468Rural confusion! On the grassy bank
          469Some ruminating lie; while others stand
          470Half in the flood, and, often bending, sip
          471The circling surface. In the middle droops
          472The strong laborious ox, of honest front,
          473Which, incompos'd, he shakes; and from his sides
          474The troublous insects lashes with his tail,
          475Returning still. Amid his subjects safe,
          476Slumbers the monarch-swain; his careless arm
          477Thrown round his head, on downy moss sustain'd:
          478Here laid his scrip, with wholesome viands fill'd;
          479There, listening every noise, his watchful dog.

...


Online text copyright © 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries.

Original text: James Thomson, The Seasons (London: Henry Woodfall for A. Millar, 1744). MCC T4 S32 1744 Fisher Rare Book Library (Toronto).
First publication date: 1727
RPO poem editor: N. J. Endicott
RP edition: 2RP 1.649.
Recent editing: 2:2002/5/8

Rhyme: unrhyming


Other poems by James Thomson