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The Garden

2006-01-23 00:00

  How vainly men themselves amaze

  To win the palm, the oak, or bays,

  And their uncessant labours see

  Crowned from some single herb or tree,

  Whose short and narrow vergèd shade

  Does prudently their toils upbraid,

  While all flow'rs and all trees do close

  To weave the garlands of repose.

  Fair Quiet, have I found thee here,

  And Innocence, thy sister dear!

  Mistaken long, I sought you then

  In busy companies of men.

  Your sacred plants, if here below,

  Only among the plants will grow.

  Society is all but rude,

  To this delicious solitude.

  No white nor red was ever seen

  So am'rous as this lovely green.

  Fond lovers, cruel as their flame,

  Cut in these trees their mistress' name.

  Little, alas, they know, or heed,

  How far these beauties hers exceed!

  Fair trees! Wheres'e'er your barks I wound,

  No name shall but your own be found.

  When we have run our passion's heat,

  Love hither makes his best retreat.

  The gods, that mortal beauty chase,

  Still in a tree did end their race.

  Apollo hunted Daphne so,

  Only that she might laurel grow.

  And Pan did after Syrinx speed,

  Not as a nymph, but for a reed.

  What wondrous life is this I lead!

  Ripe apples drop about my head;

  The luscious clusters of the vine

  Upon my mouth do crush their wine;

  The nectarene, and curious peach,

  Into my hands themselves do reach;

  Stumbling on melons, as I pass,

  Ensnared with flowers, I fall on grass.

  Meanwhile the mind, from pleasure less,

  Withdraws into its happiness:

  The mind, that ocean where each kind

  Does straight its own resemblance find,

  Yet it creates, transcending these,

  Far other worlds, and other seas,

  Annihilating all that's made

  To a green thought in a green shade.

  Here at the fountain's sliding foot,

  Or at some fruit-tree's mossy root,

  Casting the body's vest aside,

  My soul into the boughs does glide:

  There like a bird it sits, and sings,

  Then whets, and combs its silver wings;

  And, till prepared for longer flight,

  Waves in its plumes the various light.

  Such was the happy garden-state,

  While man there walked without a mate:

  After a place so pure, and sweet,

  What other help could yet be meet!

  But 'twas beyond a mortal's share

  To wander solitary there:

  Two paradises 'twere in one

  To live in paradise alone.

  How well the skilful gardener drew

  Of flowers and herbs this dial new,

  Where from above the milder sun

  Does through a fragrant zodiac run;

  And, as it works, the industrious bee

  Computes its time as well as we.

  How could such sweet and whilesome hours

  Be reckoned but with herbs and flowers!

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