Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. III. Addison to Blake
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Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. III. The Eighteenth Century: Addison to Blake
 
Extract from The First of April
By Thomas Warton (1728–1790)
 
  SCANT along the ridgy land
The beans their new-born ranks expand:
The fresh-turned soil with tender blades
Thinly the sprouting barley shades:
Fringing the forest’s devious edge,        5
Half robed appears the hawthorn hedge;
Or to the distant eye displays
Weakly green its budding sprays.
 
  The swallow, for a moment seen,
Skims in haste the village green:        10
From the gray moor, on feeble wing,
The screaming plovers idly spring:
The butterfly, gay-painted soon,
Explores awhile the tepid noon;
And fondly trusts its tender dyes        15
To fickle suns, and flattering skies.
 
  Fraught with a transient, frozen shower,
If a cloud should haply lower,
Sailing o’er the landscape dark,
Mute on a sudden is the lark;        20
But when gleams the sun again
O’er the pearl-besprinkled plain,
And from behind his watery veil
Looks through the thin descending hail;
She mounts, and, lessening to the sight,        25
Salutes the blithe return of light,
And high her tuneful track pursues
Mid the dim rainbow’s scattered hues.
 
  Where in venerable rows
Widely waving oaks inclose        30
The moat of yonder antique hall,
Swarm the rooks with clamorous call;
And to the toils of nature true,
Wreath their capacious nests anew.
 
  Musing through the lawny park,        35
The lonely poet loves to mark
How various greens in faint degrees
Tinge the tall groups of various trees;
While, careless of the changing year,
The pine cerulean, never sere,        40
Towers distinguished from the rest,
And proudly vaunts her winter vest.
 
  Within some whispering osier isle,
Where Glym’s low banks neglected smile;
And each trim meadow still retains        45
The wintry torrent’s oozy stains:
Beneath a willow, long forsook,
The fisher seeks his customed nook;
And bursting through the crackling sedge,
That crowns the current’s caverned edge,        50
He startles from the bordering wood
The bashful wild-duck’s early brood.
 
  O’er the broad downs, a novel race,
Frisk the lambs with faltering pace,
And with eager bleatings fill        55
The foss that skirts the beaconed hill.
 
  His free-born vigour yet unbroke
To lordly man’s usurping yoke,
The bounding colt forgets to play,
Basking beneath the noon-tide ray,        60
And stretched among the daisies pied
Of a green dingle’s sloping side:
While far beneath, where nature spreads
Her boundless length of level meads,
In loose luxuriance taught to stray        65
A thousand tumbling rills inlay
With silver veins the vale, or pass
Redundant through the sparkling grass.
 
  Yet, in these presages rude,
Midst her pensive solitude,        70
Fancy, with prophetic glance,
Sees the teeming months advance;
The field, the forest, green and gay,
The dappled slope, the tedded hay;
Sees the reddening orchard blow,        75
The harvest wave, the vintage flow;
Sees June unfold his glossy robe
Of thousand hues o’er all the globe;
Sees Ceres grasp her crown of corn,
And Plenty load her ample horn.        80
 
 
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