Poems and Extracts/A Nocturnal Reverie

A Nocturnal Reverie

In such a night when every louder wind
Is to its' distant cavern safe confined,
And only gentle Zephyr fans his wings,
And lonely Philomel, still waking, sings,
Or from some tree, fam'd for the owl's delight,
She, hollowing clear directs the wanderer right:
In such a night when passing clouds give place,
Or thinly veil the heaven's mysterious face;
When in some river, overhung with green,
The waving moon and trembling leaves are seen;
When freshened grass now bears itself upright,
And makes cool banks to pleasing rest invite,
Whence springs the woodbine and the bramble-rose,
And where the sleepy cowslip sheltered grows;

Whilst now a paler hue the foxglove takes
And chequers still with red the dusky brakes:
When odours which declined repelling day,
Thro' temperate air uninterrupted stray;
When darken'ed groves their softest shadows wear
And falling waters we distinctly hear; 20
When through the gloom more venerable shows
Some ancient Fabric, awful in repose,
While sunburnt hills their swarthy looks conceal,
And swelling hay-cocks thicken up the vale:
When the loos'd horse now, as his pasture leads,
Comes slowly grazing through the adjoining meads,
Whose stealing pace, and lengthened shade we fear
'Till torn-up forage in his teeth we hear:
When nibbling sheep at large pursue their food,
And unmolested kine re-chew the cud; 30
When curlews cry beneath the village walls.
And to her straggling brood the partridge calls;
Their short-lived jubilee the creatures keep.

Which but endures while tyrant man does sleep:
When a sedate content the spirit feels,
And no fierce light disturbs whilst it reveals;
But silent musings urge the mind to seek
Something too high for syllables to speak;
'Till the free soul to a compos'edness charm'd.
Finding the elements of rage disarmed, 40
O'er all below a solemn quiet grown,
Joys in the inferior world, and thinks it like her own:—
In such a night let me abroad remain.
Till morning breaks and all 's confus'd again;
Our cares, our toils, our clamours are renewed,
Our pleasures, seldom reach'd, again pursued.