To a Play Acted in a Nobleman’s Barn
On proud Britannia’s rock-built seat,
Where all together oft they meet,
The Seasons stopp’d, and each to Fame
Announc’d her merits and her claim.
First Spring began—“My laughing hours
Bring genial gales and balmy flow’rs:
I bid young Beauty share my throne,
The fairest semblance of her own;
While Love, an urchin shrewd and sly,
Strives in my fost’ring lap to lie,
And slumbers while I deck the elf
With buds as tender as himself,
Till in my changeful sport he sees
An emblem of his own decrees.”
Then Summer spoke—“My presence calls
Proud Pleasure’s train to rural halls,
Her fading roses to renew,
And bathe her feet in fragrant dew.
With me the dreaming minstrel roves
Thro’ twilight glens or tuneful groves,
And seeks their haunted shades among
New graces for his attic song.
Pale Spleen and haggard Care resign
Their drowsy vigils while I shine:
My smile gives vigour to the Sage,
And second life to freezing Age.”
Said Autumn—“ Sisters, boast no more
That poets revel in your store:
The warbling race would soon expire,
And soon the rural hall would tire,
Unless to grace the festive board
I yield the riches of my hoard.
Your gifts are gay on Cupid’s shrine,
But prudent Hymen waits for mine!
Chaste Truth and sober Taste I suit,
They praise the flow’r, but prize the fruit.”
Her sceptre gemm’d with frozen dew,
Mild Winter wav’d, and said—“With you
Health, Love, and Fancy, form alliance,
With me—Joy, Friendship, Wit, and Science!
Behold, this ample dome is mine,
Where all their mingled stores combine.
Your own united gifts I glean,
To grace and fill my social scene,
Sylphs, fairies, elves of earth and fire,
To guard my ancient roof conspire:
For to Philemon’s barn, they say,
Jove came down mask’d to act a play,
Go, Sisters! boast your rosy bow’rs,
But own my right to attic hours!
Let Bards your harvest-home receive,
Not barren bays and myrtles weave:
Give them, when dead, the stately cairn,
But while they live the well-stor’d Barn.