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To Nature's book, he ftudiously applies;
And oft, confulted by the anxious swain,
And fhews the figns of fure impending rain.
The various phases of the moon he knows,
Returning late at eve, from wake or fair,
And of the northern lights the cause explains; Recounts what comets have appear'd of old, Portending dearth, or war, and mis'ries manifold.
Around his bending shoulders, graceful flow,
And fimple neatness in his mien appears;
And every neighbour, that perchance he meets,
Or young or old be they, with courtesy he greets.
A goodly fight, I wot, it were to view
The decent Parish Clerk on Sabbath-day,
Or kneeling down with lifted hands to pray;
Such times as ancient fuit of black he wears,
Which from the Curate's wardrobe did defcend;
Love to his Clerk the pious Curate bears; Pities his wants, and wisheth to befriend: But what, alas! can flender fal'ry do, Encumber'd by a wife, and children not a few?
Through ev'ry feafon of the changing year,
His ftrict regard for Chriftian rites is feen; The holy church he decks with garlands fair,
Or birchen boughs, or yew for ever green:
On ev'ry pew a formal sprig
And with a spacious branch the pulpit's top is grac'd,
At Christmas tide, when ev'ry yeomen's hall,
Kind invitations he accepts from all,
To share the plenteous mirth-abounding feaft: The Christmas feast imperfect would appear, Except their good old gueft, the Parish Clerk, was there.
Then when the mellow beer goes gaily round,
When fmit with mutual love, the youth and maid,
And fee the rites perform'd with decency;
He gives the bride, and joins their trembling hands, While with the Service-book the Curate gravely stands.
Then while the merry bells the steeple shake,
Ringing in honour of the happy pair,
To notes of gladness, while the minstrels wake, And lads and laffes the rich bride-cake fhare; O may the youthful bard a portion gain, To whom the rural fage its virtues did explain. When from the church returns the blith fome train, A fpicy cake two gentle maidens bring; Which holding o'er the bride, they break in twain, And all conjoin'd this nuptial ditty fing:
Joy to the wedded pair! health, length of days! "And may they, blefs'd by Heav'n, a goodly houfhold raife."
At eve, the lovely condefcending bride,
Will take the ring, which on her finger fhines,
The stocking thrown, as ancient rules require,
Where close beneath thy head the charm muft lie;
Rais'd by the pow'r of Love, in vifion gay,
And foft approaching, with the mildest air,
Alas, it flies! the morning fprings apace!
O time, relentless! foe to every joy!
How all declines beneath thy iron reign!
Attune the harp, and charm the lift'ning plain; Or with his mellow voice the pfalm could raise, And fill the echoing choir with notes of facred praise. (hands;
But now, alas! his every power decays,
His voice grows hoarfe, long toil has cramp'd his
And when a mafter plays, he preffes close to hear.
And learn'd his ftory with fincere delight;
His youthful feats, with guiltless pride, he told;
How light he leap'd, and O! how swift he run;
At length, concluding with reflections deep :-
"Impair'd by grief, by penury and pain: Yet let me not arraign juft Heav'n's decree; The lot of human-kind, as man, belongs to me.
"Beneath yon aged yew-tree's folemn fhade,
"Whose twifted roots above the greensward-creep,
"And there my only fon-with him I gave
"In that sweet earth, when Nature's debt is paid,
"In humble hope of mercy, to repose :
Written in a Country Church Yard.
THE curfew tolls the knell of parting day,
The lowing herd winds flowly o'er the lea,
And leaves the world to darkness and to me.
Save that, from yonder ivy-mantled tow'r,
The moping owl does to the moon complain Of.fuch, as, wand'ring near her secret bow's, Moleft her ancient folitary reign.