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Gilbert White (1720-1793)

The Naturalist's Summer-Evening Walk


              1Th'imprison'd winds slumber within their caves
              2Fast bound: the fickle vane, emblem of change,
              3Wavers no more, long-settling to a point.
              4All nature nodding seems compos'd: thick steams
              5>From land, from flood up-drawn, dimming the day,
              6"Like a dark ceiling stand:" slow thro' the air
              7Gossamer floats, or stretch'd from blade to blade
              8The wavy net-work whitens all the field.
              9Push'd by the weightier atmosphere, up springs
            10The ponderous Mercury, from scale to scale
            11Mounting, amidst the Torricellian tube.
            12While high in air, and pois'd upon his wings
            13Unseen, the soft, enamour'd wood-lark runs
            14Thro' all his maze of melody; -- the brake
            15Loud with the black-bird's bolder note resounds.
            16Sooth'd by the genial warmth, the cawing rook
            17Anticipates the spring, selects her mate,
            18Haunts her tall nest-trees, and with sedulous care
            19Repairs her wicker eyrie, tempest torn.
            20The plough-man inly smiles to see upturn
            21His mellow glebe, best pledge of future crop:
            22With glee the gardener eyes his smoking beds:
            23E'en pining sickness feels a short relief.
            24The happy school-boy brings transported forth
            25His long-forgotten scourge, and giddy gig:
            26O'er the white paths he whirls the rolling hoop,
            27Or triumphs in the dusty fields of taw.
            28Not so the museful sage: -- abroad he walks
            29Contemplative, if haply he may find
            30What cause controuls the tempest's rage, or whence
            31Amidst the savage season winter smiles.
            32For days, for weeks, prevails the placid calm.
            33At length some drops prelude a change: the sun
            34With ray refracted bursts the parting gloom;
            35When all the chequer'd sky is one bright glare.
            36Mutters the wind at eve: th' horizon round
            37With angry aspect scowls: down rush the showers,
            38And float the delug'd paths, and miry fields.

Notes

1] imprison'd winds: Aeolus, keeper of the winds in classical mythology, would imprison them at the gods' bequest.

2] vane: weather vane.

6] "Like a dark ceiling stand": source unidentified.

11] the Torricellian tube: "The Barometer" (note in 1813 edn.).

16] rook: crow.

19] eyrie: bird of prey's nest.

21] glebe: cultivated land.

25] gig: whipping top.

27] taw: small plant fibres and roots (OED sb. 3).

34] ray refracted: light beam that is bent or deflected.


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: Gilbert White, The Natural History and Antiquities of Selborne, in the County of Southampton. To Which are Added, The Naturalist's Calendar; Observations on Various Parts of Nature; and Poems, New Edn. (London: White, Cochrane, and others, 1813): 69-71. Facsimile edn., intro. P. G. M. Foster, The Ray Society, no. 160 (London: The Ray Society, 1993). QH 138 S4W5 1993b Gerstein Library
First publication date: 1789
Publication date note: Gilbert White, The Natural History and Antiquities of Selborne, 1789, facsimile edn. (Menston: Scolar Press, 1970); QH 138 .S4W5 1789A Gerstein Library. See original edn. (London: T. Bensley for B. White, 1789); D-10/2651 RBSC Fisher Rare Book Library. Between nos. XXIV and XXV of White's letters to Thomas Pennant.
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition: 2001
Recent editing: 1:2002/4/30

Composition date: 29 May 1769 - 30 August 1769
Composition date note: These are the dates of letters XXIV and XXV.
Form: couplets


Other poems by Gilbert White