Ode To Simplicity

O thou, by Nature taught
To breathe her genuine thought
In numbers warmly pure, and sweetly strong;
Who first on mountains wild,
In Fancy, loveliest child,
Thy babe, or Pleasure’s, nurs’d the pow’rs of song!

Thou, who with hermit heart,
Disdain’st the wealth of art,
And gauds, and pageant weeds, and trailing pall,
But com’st a decent maid,
In Attic robe array’d,
O chaste, unboastful nymph, to thee I call!

By all the honey’d store
On Hybla’s thymy shore;
By all her blooms, and mingled murmurs dear;
By her whose lovelorn woe
In ev’ning musings slow
Sooth’d sweetly sad Electra’s poet’s ear:

By old Cephisus deep,
Who spread his wavy sweep
In warbled wand’rings round thy green retreat;
On whose enamell’d side,
When holy Freedom died,
No equal haunt allur’d thy future feet.

O sister meek of Truth,
To my admiring youth,
Thy sober aid and native charms infuse!
The flow’rs that sweetest breathe,
Tho’ Beauty cull’d the wreath,
Still ask thy hand to range their order’d hues.

While Rome could none esteem
But virtue’s patriot theme,
You lov’d her hills, and led her laureate band;
But stay’d to sing alone
To one distinguish’d throne,
And turn’d thy face, and fled her alter’d land.

No more, in hall or bow’r,
The passions own thy pow’r;
Love, only love her forceless numbers mean;
For thou hast left her shrine,
Nor olive more, nor vine,
Shall gain thy feet to bless the servile scene.

Tho’ taste, tho’ genius bless
To some divine excess,
Faints the cold work till thou inspire the whole;
What each, what all supply,
May court, may charm our eye;
Thou, only thou canst raise the meeting soul!

Of these let others ask,
To aid some mighty task,
I only seek to find thy temp’rate vale;
Where oft my reed might sound
To maids and shepherds round,
And all thy sons, O Nature, learn my tale.

 

-William Collins

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