Verse > Anthologies > J. C. Squire, ed. > A Book of Women’s Verse
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J. C. Squire, ed.  A Book of Women’s Verse.  1921.
 
A Nocturnal Reverie
By Anne, Countess of Winchilsea (1660–1720)
 
IN such a night, when every louder wind
Is to its distant cavern safe confin’d;
And only gentle Zephyr fans his wings,
And lonely Philomel, still waking, sings;
Or from some tree, fam’d for the owl’s delight,        5
She, hollowing clear, directs the wand’rers right:
In such a night, when passing clouds give place,
Or thinly vail the Heav’ns mysterious face;
When in some river, overhung with green,
The waving moon and trembling leaves are seen;        10
When freshen’d grass now bears itself upright,
And makes cool banks to pleasing rest invite,
Whence springs the woodbind, and the bramble-rose,
And where the sleepy cowslip shelter’d grows;
Whilst now a paler hue the foxglove takes,        15
Yet checquers still with red the dusky brakes:
When scatter’d glow-worms, but in twilight fine,
Shew trivial beauties watch their hour to shine;
Whilst Salisb ’ry stands the test of every light,
In perfect charms and perfect virtue bright:        20
When odours, which declin’d repelling day,
Thro’ temperate air uninterrupted stray;
When darken’d groves their softest shadows wear
And falling waters we distinctly hear;
When thro’ the gloom more venerable shows        25
Some ancient fabrick, awful in repose,
While sunburnt hills their swarthy looks conceal,
And swelling haycocks thicken up the vale:
When the loos’d horse now, as his pasture leads,
Comes slowly grazing thro’ th’ adjoining meads,        30
Whose stealing pace, and lengthen’d shade we fear,
Till torn-up forage in his teeth we hear:
When nibbling sheep at large pursue their food,
And unmolested kine rechew the cud;
When curlews cry beneath the village walls,        35
And to her straggling brood the partridge calls;
Their short-liv’d jubilee the creatures keep,
Which but endures, whilst tyrant-man do’s sleep:
When a sedate consent the spirit feels,
And no fierce light disturbs, whilst it reveals;        40
But silent musings urge the mind to seek
Something, too high for syllables to speak;
Till the free soul to a compos’dness charm’d,
Finding the elements of rage disarm’d,
O’er all below a solemn quiet grown,        45
Joys in th’ 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 renew’d,
Or pleasures, seldom reach’d, again pursu’d.        50
 
 
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