How rich a field is to your hopes display’d by Anna Laetitia Barbauld (20th June, 1743 – 9th March, 1825)
How rich a field is to your hopes display’d!
Knowledge to you unlocks the classic page;
And virtue blossoms for a better age.
Oh golden days! oh bright unvalued hours!
What bliss (did ye but know that bliss) were yours?
With richest stores your glowing bosoms fraught,
Perception quick, and luxury of thought;
The high designs that heave the labouring soul,
Panting for fame, impatient of controul;
And fond enthusiastic thought, that feeds
On pictur’d tales of vast heroic deeds;
And quick affections, kindling into flame
At virtue’s, or their country’s honour’d name;
And spirits light, to every joy in tune;
And friendship, ardent as a summer’s noon;
And generous scorn of vice’s venal tribe;
And proud disdain of interest’s sordid bribe;
And conscious honour’s quick instinctive sense;
And smiles unforc’d; and easy confidence;
And vivid fancy; and clear simple truth;
And all the mental bloom of vernal youth.
How bright the scene to fancy’s eye appears,
Thro’ the long perspective of distant years,
When this, this little group their country calls
From academic shades and learned halls,
To fix her laws, her spirit to sustain,
And light up glory thro’ her wide domain!
Their various tastes in different arts display’d,
Like temper’d harmony of light and shade,
With friendly union in one mass shall blend,
And this adorn the state, and that defend.
These the sequester’d shade shall cheaply please,
With learned labour, and inglorious ease:
While those, impell’d by some resistless force,
O’er seas and rocks shall urge their vent’rous course;
Rich fruits matur’d by glowing suns behold,
And China’s groves of vegetable gold;
From every land the various harvest spoil,
And bear the tribute to their native soil:
But tell each land (while every toil they share,
Firm to sustain, and resolute to dare,)
MAN is the nobler growth our realms supply,
And SOULS are ripen’d in our northern sky.
Some pensive creep along the shelly shore;
Unfold the silky texture of a flower;
With sharpen’d eyes inspect an hornet’s sting,
And all the wonders of an insect’s wing.
Some trace with curious search the hidden cause
Of nature’s changes, and her various laws;
Untwist her beauteous web, disrobe her charms,
And hunt her to her elemental forms:
Or prove what hidden powers in herbs are found
To quench disease and cool the burning wound;
With cordial drops the fainting head sustain,
Call back the flitting soul, and still the throbs of pain.
The patriot passion this shall strongly feel,
Ardent, and glowing with undaunted zeal;
With lips of fire shall plead his country’s cause,
And vindicate the majesty of laws.
This, cloath’d with Britain’s thunder, spread alarms
Thro’ the wide earth, and shake the pole with arms.
That, to the sounding lyre his deeds rehearse,
Enshrine his name in some immortal verse,
To long posterity his praise consign,
And pay a life of hardships by a line.
While others, consecrate to higher aims,
Whose hallow’d bosoms glow with purer flames,
Love in their heart, persuasion in their tongue,
With words of peace shall charm the list’ning throng,
Draw the dread veil that wraps th’ eternal throne,
And launch our souls into the bright unknown.
Here cease my song. Such arduous themes require
A master’s pencil, and a poet’s fire:
Unequal far such bright designs to paint,
Too weak her colours, and her lines too faint,
My drooping Muse folds up her fluttering wing,
And hides her head in the green lap of spring.
Two Roses on a Tablecloth by Édouard Manet(23rd January, 1832 – 30th April, 1883)
- Life by Anna Lætitia Barbauld (ipseand.wordpress.com)