Town and Country

An Ode

O! well may poets make a fuss
In summer time, and sigh " O rus! "
Of London pleasures sick:
My heart is all at pant to rest
In Greenwood shades — my eyes detest
This endless meal of brick!

What joy have I in June's return?
My feet are parched, my eyeballs burn,
I scent no flowery gust:
But faint the flagging zephyr springs,
With dry Macadam on its wings,
And turns me " dust to dust. "

My sun his daily course renews
Due east, but with no Eastern dews;
The path is dry and hot!
His setting shows more tamely still,
He sinks behind no purple hill,
But down a chimney's pot!

O! but to hear the milkmaid blithe,
Or early mower whet his scythe
The dewy meads among! —
My grass is of that sort, alas!
That makes no hay — called sparrow-grass
By folks of vulgar tongue!

O! but to smell the woodbines sweet!
I think of cowslip cups — but meet
With very vile rebuffs!
For meadow-buds I get a whiff
Of Cheshire cheese, — or only sniff
The turtle made at Cuff's.

How tenderly Rousseau reviewed
His periwinkles! — mine are stewed!
My rose blooms on a gown! —
I hunt in vain for eglantine,
And find my blue-bell on the sign
That marks the Bell and Crown:

Where are ye, birds! that blithely wing
From tree to tree, and gayly sing
Or mourn in thickets deep?
My cuckoo has some ware to sell,
The watchman is my Philomel,
My blackbird is a sweep!

Where are ye, linnet, lark, and thrush!
That perch on leafy bough and bush,
And tune the various song?
Two hurdy-gurdists, and a poor
Street-Handel grinding at my door,
Are all my " tuneful throng. "

Where are ye, early-purling streams,
Whose waves reflect the morning beams,
And colors of the skies?
My rills are only puddle-drains
From shambles, or reflect the stains
Of calimanco-dyes!

Sweet are the little brooks that run
O'er pebbles glancing in the sun,
Singing in soothing tones: —
Not thus the city streamlets flow;
They make no music as they go,
Though never " off the stones. "

Where are ye, pastoral pretty sheep,
That wont to bleat, and frisk, and leap,
Beside your woolly dams?
Alas! instead of harmless crooks,
My Corydons use iron hooks,
And skin — not shear — the lambs.

The pipe whereon, in olden day,
The Arcadian herdsman used to play
Sweetly, here soundeth not;
But merely breathes unwholesome fumes,
Meanwhile the city boor consumes
The rank weed — " piping hot. "

All rural things are vilely mocked,
On every hand the sense is shocked,
With objects hard to bear:
Shades — vernal shades! — where wine is sold!
And, for a turfy bank, behold
An Ingram's rustic chair!

Where are ye, London meads and bowers,
And gardens redolent of flowers
Wherein the zephyr wons!
Alas! Moor Fields are fields no more:
See Hatton's Garden bricked all o'er;
And that bare wood — St. John's.

No pastoral scenes procure me peace;
I hold no Leasowes in my lease,
No cot set round with trees:
No sheep-white hill my dwelling flanks;
And omnium furnishes my banks
With brokers — not with bees.

O! well may poets make a fuss
In summer time, and sigh " O rus!
Of city pleasures sick:
My heart is all at pant to rest
In greenwood shades — my eyes detest
That endless meal of brick!
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