Fortunately, the increases standard of living afforded by the computer revolution and globalization may enable better appreciation of the lost arts, art by skillful hands.
The Deserted Village (bold text for emphasis by Stephen Olin)
Sweet Auburn, loveliest village of the plain,Where health and plenty cheered the labouring swain,Where smiling spring its earliest visit paid,And parting summer's lingering blooms delayed:Dear lovely bowers of innocence and ease,Seats of my youth, when every sport could please,How often have I loitered o'er thy green,Where humble happiness endeared each scene;How often have I paused on every charm,The sheltered cot, the cultivated farm, 10The never-failing brook, the busy mill,The decent church that topped the neighbouring hill,The hawthorn bush, with seats beneath the shade,For talking age and whispering lovers made.How often have I blessed the coming day,When toil remitting lent its turn to play,And all the village train, from labour free,Led up their sports beneath the spreading tree,While many a pastime circled in the shade,The young contending as the old surveyed; 20And many a gambol frolicked o'er the ground,And sleights of art and feats of strength went round.And still as each repeated pleasure tired,Succeeding sports the mirthful band inspired;The dancing pair that sweetly sought renown,By holding out to tire each other down;The swain mistrustless of his smutted face,While secret laughter tittered round the place;The bashful virgin's sidelong looks of love,The matron's glance that would these looks reprove. 30These were thy charms, sweet village; sports like these,With sweet succession, taught even toil to please;These round thy bowers their cheerful influence shed,These were thy charmsÐbut all these charms are fled. Sweet smiling village, loveliest of the lawn,Thy sports are fled and all thy charms withdrawn;Amidst thy bowers the tyrant's hand is seen,And desolation saddens all thy green:One only master grasps the whole domain,And half a village stints thy smiling plain: 40No more thy glassy brook reflects the day,But, choked with sedges, works its weedy way.Along thy glades, a solitary guest,The hollow-sounding bittern guards its nest;Amidst thy desert walks the lapwing flies,And tires their echoes with unvaried cries.Sunk are thy bowers in shapeless ruin all,And the long grass o'ertops the mouldering wall;And trembling, shrinking from the spoiler's hand,Far, far away, thy children leave the land. 50 Ill fares the land, to hastening ills a prey,Where wealth accumulates and men decay:Princes and lords may flourish or may fade;A breath can make them, as a breath has made;But a bold peasantry, their country's pride,When once destroyed, can never be supplied. A time there was, ere England's griefs began,When every rood of ground maintained its man;For him light labour spread her wholesome store,Just gave what life required, but gave no more: 60His best companions, innocence and health;And his best riches, ignorance of wealth. But times are altered; trade's unfeeling trainUsurp the land and dispossess the swain;Along the lawn, where scattered hamlets rose,Unwieldy wealth and cumbrous pomp repose;And every want to opulence allied,And every pang that folly pays to pride.These gentle hours that plenty bade to bloom,Those calm desires that asked but little room, 70Those healthful sports that graced the peaceful scene,Lived in each look and brightened all the green;These far departing, seek a kinder shore,And rural mirth and manners are no more. Sweet Auburn! parent of the blissful hour,Thy glades forlorn confess the tyrant's power.Here as I take my solitary rounds,Amidst thy tangling walks and ruined grounds,And, many a year elapsed, returned to viewWhere once the cottage stood, the hawthorn grew, 80Remembrance wakes with all her busy train,Swells at my breast and turns the past to pain. In all my wanderings round this world of care,In all my griefsÐand God has given my shareÐI still had hopes my latest hours to crown,Amidst these humble bowers to lay me down;To husband out life's taper at the closeAnd keep the flame from wasting by repose.I still had hopes, for pride attends us still,Amidst the swains to show my book-learned skill, 90Around my fire an evening group to draw,And tell of all I felt and all I saw;And, as a hare, whom hounds and horns pursue,Pants to the place from whence at first she flew,I still had hopes, my long vexations past,Here to returnÐand die at home at last. O blest retirement, friend to life's decline,Retreats from care that never must be mine,How happy he who crowns in shades like theseA youth of labour with an age of ease; 100Who quits a world where strong temptations try,And, since 'tis hard to combat, learns to fly.For him no wretches, born to work and weep,Explore the mine or tempt the dangerous deep;No surly porter stands in guilty stateTo spurn imploring famine from the gate;But on he moves to meet his latter end,Angels around befriending virtue's friend;Bends to the grave with unperceived decay,While resignation gently slopes the way; 110And, all his prospects brightening to the last,His heaven commences ere the world be past! Sweet was the sound, when oft at evening's closeUp yonder hill the village murmur rose;There, as I passed with careless steps and slow,The mingling notes came softened from below ;The swain responsive as the milkmaid sung,The sober herd that lowed to meet her young;The noisy geese that gabbled o'er the pool,The playful children just let loose from school; 120The watchdog's voice that bayed the whispering wind,And the loud laugh that spoke the vacant mind;These all in sweet confusion sought the shade,And filled each pause the nightingale had made.But now the sounds of population fail,No cheerful murmurs fluctuate in the gale,No busy steps the grassgrown foot-way tread,For all the bloomy flush of life is fled.All but yon widowed, solitary thingThat feebly bends beside the plashy spring; 130She, wretched matron, forced, in age, for bread,To strip the brook with mantling cresses spread,To pick her wintry faggot from the thorn,To seek her nightly shed and weep till morn;She only left of all the harmless train,The sad historian of the pensive plain. Near yonder copse, where once the garden smiled,And still where many a garden flower grows wild;There, where a few torn shrubs the place disclose,The village preacher's modest mansion rose. 140A man he was to all the country dear,And passing rich with forty pounds a year;Remote from towns he ran his godly race,Nor e'er had changed, nor wished to change, his place;Unpractised he to fawn, or seek for power,By doctrines fashioned to the varying hour;Far other aims his heart had learned to prize,More skilled to raise the wretched than to rise.His house was known to all the vagrant train,He chid their wanderings, but relieved their pain; 150The long-remembered beggar was his guest,Whose beard descending swept his aged breast;The ruined spendthrift, now no longer proud,Claimed kindred there and had his claims allowed;The broken soldier, kindly bade to stay,Sat by his fire and talked the night away;Wept o'er his wounds of tales of sorrow done,Shouldered his crutch and showed how his fields were won.Pleased with his guests, the good man learned to glow,And quite forgot their vices in their woe; 160Careless their merits or their faults to scan,His pity gave ere charity began. Thus to relieve the wretched was his pride,And even his failings leaned to virtue's side;But in his duty prompt at every call,He watched and wept, he prayed and felt, for all.And, as a bird each fond endearment triesTo tempt its new-fledged offspring to the skies,He tried each art, reproved each dull delay,Allured to brighter worlds, and led the way. 170 Beside the bed where parting life was laid,And sorrow, guilt, and pain by turns dismayed,The reverend champion stood. At his control, Despair and anguish fled the struggling soul;Comfort came down the trembling wretch to raise,And his last faltering accents whispered praise. At church, with meek and unaffected grace,His looks adorned the venerable place;Truth from his lips prevailed the double sway,And fools, who came to scoff, remained to pray. 180The service past, around the pious man,With steady zeal each honest rustic ran;Even children followed with endearing wile,And plucked his gown, to share the good man's smile.His ready smile a parent's warmth expressed,Their welfare pleased him and their cares distressed;To them his heart, his love, his griefs were given,But all his serious thoughts had rest in heaven.As some tall cliff, that lifts its awful form,Swells from the vale and midway leaves the storm, 190Though round its breast the rolling clouds are spread, Eternal sunshine settles on its head. Beside yon straggling fence that skirts the way,With blossomed furze unprofitably gay,There, in his noisy mansion, skilled to rule,The village master taught his little school;A man severe he was and stern to view;I knew him well, and every truant knew;Well had the boding tremblers learned to traceThe day's disasters in his morning face; 200Full well they laughed, with counterfeited glee,At all his jokes, for many a joke had he;Full well the busy whisper, circling round,Conveyed the dismal tidings when he frowned;Yet he was kind, or, if severe in aught,The love he bore to learning was in fault;The village all declared how much he knew;'Twas certain he could write and cipher too;Lands he could measure, terms and tides presage,And even the story ran that he could gauge. 210In arguing too, the parson owned his skill,For even though vanquished, he could argue still;While words of learned length and thundering soundAmazed the gazing rustics ranged around,And still they gazed, and still the wonder grew,That one small head could carry all he knew. But past is all his fame. The very spot,Where many a time he triumphed, is forgot.Near yonder thorn, that lifts its head on high,Where once the signpost caught the passing eye, 220 Low lies that house where nutbrown draughts inspired,Where graybeard mirth and smiling toil retired,Where village statesmen talked with looks profound,And news much older than their ale went round.Imagination fondly stoops to traceThe parlour splendours of that festive place;The white-washed wall, the nicely sanded floor,The varnished clock that clicked behind the door;The chest contrived a double debt to pay,A bed by night, a chest of drawers by day; 230The pictures placed for ornament and use,The twelve good rules, the royal game of goose;The hearth, except when winter chilled the day,With aspen boughs and flowers and fennel gay;While broken teacups, wisely kept for show,Ranged o'er the chimney, glistened in a row. Vain, transitory splendours! Could not allReprieve the tottering mansion from its fall!Obscure it sinks, nor shall it more impartAn hour's importance to the poor man's heart; 240Thither no more the peasant shall repairTo sweet oblivion of his daily care;No more the farmer's news, the barber's tale,No more the woodman's ballad shall prevail;No more the smith his dusky brow shall clear,Relax his ponderous strength and lean to hear;The host himself no longer shall be foundCareful to see the mantling bliss go round;Nor the coy maid, half willing to be pressed,Shall kiss the cup to pass it to the rest. 250 Yes! let the rich deride, the proud disdain,These simple blessings of the lowly train;To me more dear, congenial to my heart,One native charm than all the gloss of art;Spontaneous joys, where nature has its play,The soul adopts and owns their firstborn sway;Lightly they frolic o'er the vacant mindUnenvied, unmolested, unconfined:But the long pomp, the midnight masquerade,With all the freaks of wanton wealth arrayed, 260In these, ere triflers half their wish obtain, The toiling pleasure sickens into pain;And, even while fashion's brightest arts decoyThe heart distrusting asks, if this be joy. Ye friends to truth, ye statesmen who surveyThe rich man's joys increase, the poor's decay,'Tis yours to judge how wide the limits standBetween a splendid and an happy land.Proud swells the tide with loads of freighted ore,And shouting Folly hails them from her shore; 270Hoards, even beyond the miser's wish, abound,And rich men flock from all the world around.Yet count our gains. This wealth is but a nameThat leaves with useful products still the same.Not so the loss. The man of wealth and prideTakes up a space that many poor supplied;Space for his lake, his park's extended bounds,Space for his horses, equipage, and hounds;The robe that wraps his limbs in silken slothHas robbed the neighbouring fields of half their growth; 280His seat, where solitary sports are seen,Indignant spurns the cottage from the green;Around the world each needful product flies,For all the luxuries the world supplies:While thus the land, adorned for pleasure all,In barren splendour feebly waits the fall. As some fair female unadorned and plain,Secure to please while youth confirms her reignSlights every borrowed charm that dress supplies,Nor shares with art the triumph of her eyes; 290But when those charms are passed, for charms are frail,When time advances and when lovers fail,She then shines forth, solicitous to bless,In all the glaring impotence of dress:Thus fares the land, by luxury betrayed,In nature's simplest charms at first arrayed;But verging to decline, its splendours rise,Its vistas strike, its palaces surprise;While scourged by famine from the smiling land,The mournful peasant leads his humble band; 300And while he sinks, without one arm to save,The country bloomsÐa garden and a grave. Where then, ah where, shall poverty reside,To 'scape the pressure of contiguous pride? If to some common's fenceless limits strayed,He drives his flock to pick the scanty blade,Those fenceless fields the sons of wealth divide,And even the bare-worn common is denied. If to the city spedÐwhat waits him there?To see profusion that he must not share; 310To see ten thousand baneful arts combinedTo pamper luxury and thin mankind;To see those joys the sons of pleasure knowExtorted from his fellow-creature's woe.Here, while the courtier glitters in brocade,There the pale artist plies the sickly trade;Here, while the proud their long-drawn pomps display,There the black gibbet glooms beside the way.The dome where Pleasure holds her midnight reignHere, richly decked, admits the gorgeous train; 320Tumultuous grandeur crowds the blazing square,The rattling chariots clash, the torches glare.Sure scenes like these no troubles e'er annoy!Sure these denote one universal joy!Are these thy serious thoughts?ÐAh, turn thine eyesWhere the poor, houseless, shivering female lies.She once, perhaps, in village plenty blessed,Has wept at tales of innocence distressed;Her modest looks the cottage might adorn,Sweet as the primrose peeps beneath the thorn; 330Now lost to all; her friends, her virtue fled,Near her betrayer's door she lays her head,And, pinched with cold and shrinking from the shower,With heavy heart deplores that luckless hour,When idly first, ambitious of the town,She left her wheel and robes of country brown. Do thine, sweet Auburn, thine, the loveliest train,Do thy fair tribes participate her pain?Even now, perhaps, by cold and hunger led,At proud men's doors they ask a little bread! 340 Ah, no. To distant climes, a dreary scene,Where half the convex world intrudes between,Through torrid tracts with fainting steps they go,Where wild Altama murmurs to their woe.Far different there from all that charmed beforeThe various terrors of that horrid shore :Those blazing suns that dart a downward ray,And fiercely shed intolerable day;Those matted woods where birds forget to sing,But silent bats in drowsy clusters cling; 350Those poisonous fields with rank luxuriance crowned,Where the dark scorpion gathers death around;Where at each step the stranger fears to wakeThe rattling terrors of the vengeful snake;Where crouching tigers wait their hapless prey,And savage men more murderous still than they;While oft in whirls the mad tornado flies,Mingling the ravaged landscape with the skies.Far different these from every former scene,The cooling brook, the grassy-vested green, 360The breezy covert of the warbling grove,That only sheltered thefts of harmless love. Good heaven! What sorrows gloomed that parting day,That called them from their native walks away;When the poor exiles, every pleasure past,Hung round their bowers and fondly looked their last,And took a long farewell, and wished in vainFor seats like these beyond the western main;And shuddering still to face the distant deep,Returned and wept, and still returned to weep. 370The good old sire the first prepared to goTo new-found worlds, and wept for others' woe;But for himself, in conscious virtue brave,He only wished for worlds beyond the grave.His lovely daughter, lovelier in her years,Silent went next, neglectful of her charms, And left a lover's for a father's arms.With louder plaints the mother spoke her woes,And blessed the cot where every pleasure rose; 380And kissed her thoughtless babes with many a tear,And clasped them close, in sorrow doubly dear;Whilst her fond husband strove to lend reliefIn all the silent manliness of grief. O luxury! thou cursed by heaven's decree,How ill exchanged are things like these for thee!How do thy potions with insidious joyDiffuse their pleasures only to destroy!Kingdoms, by thee to sickly greatness grown Boast of a florid vigour not their own. 390At every draught more large and large they grow,A bloated mass of rank unwieldy woe;Till sapped their strength and every part unsound,Down, down they sink and spread a ruin round. Even now the devastation has begun,And half the business of destruction done;Even now, methinks, as pondering here I stand,I see the rural virtues leave the land.Down where yon anchoring vessel spreads the sail,That idly waiting flaps with every gale, 400Downward they move, a melancholy band,Pass from the shore and darken all the strand.Contented toil and hospitable care,And kind connubial tenderness are there;And piety, with wishes placed above,And steady loyalty and faithful love.And thou, sweet Poetry, thou loveliest maidStill first to fly where sensual joys invade;Unfit, in these degenerate times of shame,To catch the heart or strike for honest fame; 410Dear charming nymph, neglected and decried,My shame in crowds, my solitary pride;Thou source of all my bliss and all my woe,That found'st me poor at first and keep'st me so;Thou guide by which the nobler arts excel,Thou nurse of every virtue, fare thee well!Farewell, and oh, where'er thy voice be tried,On Torno's cliffs or Pambamarca's side,Whether where equinoctial fervours glow,Or winter wraps the polar world in snow, 420Still let thy voice, prevailing over time,Redress the rigours of the inclement clime;Aid slighted truth; with thy persuasive strainTeach erring man to spurn the rage of gain;Teach him that states of native strength possessed,Though very poor, may still be very blest;That trade's proud empire hastes to swift decay,As ocean sweeps the laboured mole away;While self-dependent power can time defy,As rocks resist the billows and the sky. (1770)