Verse > Anthologies > William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. > The Book of Restoration Verse
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William Stanley Braithwaite, ed.  The Book of Restoration Verse.  1910.
 
A Nocturnal Reverie
By Anne Finch, Countess of Winchilsea (1661–1720)
 
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, famed for the owl’s delight,        5
She, hollowing clear, directs the wand’rer right:
In such a night, when passing clouds give place,
Or thinly veil the heav’ns’ mysterious face;
When in some river, overhung with green,
The waving moon and trembling leaves are seen;        10
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,        15
Yet chequers still with red the dusky brakes;
When scattered glow-worms, but in twilight fine,
Show 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 declined repelling day
Through temp’rate air uninterrupted stray:
When darkened groves their softest shadows wear,
And falling waters we distinctly hear;
When through the gloom more venerable shows        25
Some ancient fabric, awful in repose;
While sunburnt hills their swarthy looks conceal,
And swelling haycocks thicken up the vale;
When the loosed horse now, as his pasture leads,
Comes slowly grazing through th’ adjoining meads,        30
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;
When curlews cry beneath the village-walls,        35
And to her straggling brood the partridge calls;
Their short-lived jubilee the creatures keep,
Which but endures whilst tyrant-man does sleep;
When a sedate content the spirit feels,
And no fierce light disturb 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 composedness charmed,
Finding the elements of rage disarmed,
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 confused again;
Our cares, our toils, our clamours, are renewed,
Or pleasures, seldom reached, again pursued.        50
 
 
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