Poems and Extracts/The Wood Nymph

The Wood Nymph

Approach in silence. 'Tis no vulgar tale
Which I, the Dryad of this hoary oak,
Pronounce to mortal ears. The second age
Now hasteneth to ifs period since I rose
On this fair lawn. The groves of yonder vale
Are all my offspring: and each nymph who guards
The copses and the furrowed fields beyond,
Obeys me. Many changes have I seen
In human things, and many awful deeds
Of justice, when the ruling hand of Jove10
Against the tyrants of the land, against
The unhallowed sons of luxury and guile,
Was arm'd for retribution. Thus at length

Expert in laws divine, I know the paths
Of wisdom, and erroneous folly's end
Have oft presaged: and now well-pleas'd I wait
Each evening till a noble youth, who loves
My shade, a while relieved from public cares,
Yon peaceful gate shall enter, and sit down
Beneath my branches. Then his musing mind20
I prompt, unseen; and place before his view
Sincerest forms of good; and move his heart
With the dread bounties of the Sire Supreme
Of gods and men, with freedoms generous deeds.
The lofty voice of glory, and the faith
Of sacred friendship. Stranger I have told
My function. If within thy bosom dwell
Aught which may challenge praise, thou wilt not leave
Unhonored my abode, nor shall I hear
A sparing benediction from thy tongue.30