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   English Poetry II: From Collins to Fitzgerald.
The Harvard Classics.  1909–14.
 
297. To Evening
 
William Collins (1720–1759)
 
 
IF aught of oaten stop or pastoral song
May hope, chaste Eve, to soothe thy modest ear
    Like thy own solemn springs,
    Thy springs and dying gales;
 
O Nymph reserved,—while now the bright-hair’d sun        5
Sits in yon western tent, whose cloudy skirts,
    With brede ethereal wove,
    O’erhang his wavy bed,
 
Now air is hush’d, save where the weak-eyed bat
With short shrill shriek flits by on leathern wing,        10
    Or where the beetle winds
    His small but sullen horn,
 
As oft he rises midst the twilight path,
Against the pilgrim borne in heedless hum,—
    Now teach me, maid composed,        15
    To breathe some soften’d strain.
 
Whose numbers, stealing through thy darkening vale,
May not unseemly with its stillness suit;
    As, musing slow, I hail
    Thy genial loved return.        20
 
For when thy folding-star arising shows
His paly circlet, at his warning-lamp
    The fragrant Hours, and Elves
    Who slept in buds the day,
 
And many a Nymph who wreathes her brows with sedge        25
And sheds the freshening dew, and, lovelier still,
    The pensive Pleasures sweet,
    Prepare thy shadowy car.
 
Then let me rove some wild and heathy scene;
Or find some ruin midst its dreary dells,        30
    Whose walls more awful nod
    By thy religious gleams.
 
Or, if chill blustering winds or driving rain
Prevent my willing feet, be mine the hut
    That, from the mountain’s side,        35
    Views wilds and swelling floods,
 
And hamlets brown, and dim-discover’d spires;
And hears their simple bell; and marks o’er all
    Thy dewy fingers draw
    The gradual dusky veil.        40
 
While Spring shall pour his showers, as oft he wont,
And bathe thy breathing tresses, meekest Eve!
    While Summer loves to sport
    Beneath thy lingering light;
 
While sallow Autumn fills thy lap with leaves;        45
Or Winter, yelling through the troublous air,
    Affrights thy shrinking train
    And rudely rends thy robes;
 
So long, regardful of thy quiet rule,
Shall Fancy, Friendship, Science, smiling Peace,        50
    Thy gentlest influence own,
    And love thy favourite name!
 

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