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George Crabbe 1754 (Aldborough) – 1832 (Trowbridge)

The mighty spirit, and its power, which stains
The bloodless cheek, and vivifies the brains,
I sing. Say, ye, its fiery vot'ries true,
The jovial curate, and the shrill-tongued shrew;
Ye, in the floods of limpid poison nurst,
Where bowl the second charms like bowl the first;
Say how, and why, the sparkling ill is shed,
The heart which hardens, and which rules the head.
When winter stern his gloomy front uprears,
A sable void the barren earth appears;
The meads no more their former verdure boast,
Fast bound their streams, and all their beauty

The herds, the flocks, in icy garments mourn,
And wildly murmur for the spring's return;
From snow-topp'd hills the whirlwinds keenly blow,
Howl through the woods, and pierce the vales below;
Through the sharp air a flaky torrent flies,
Mocks the slow sight, and hides the gloomy skies;
The fleecy clouds their chilly bosoms bare,
And shed their substance on the floating air;
The floating air their downy substance glides
Through springing waters, and prevents their tides;
Seizes the rolling waves, and, as a god,
Charms their swift race, and stops the refluent

The opening valves, which fill the venal road,
Then scarcely urge along the sanguine flood;
The labouring pulse a slower motion rules,
The tendons stiffen, and the spirit cools;
Each asks the aid of Nature's sister, Art,
To cheer the senses, and to warm the heart.
The gentle fair on nervous tea relies,
Whilst gay good-nature sparkles in her eyes;
An inoffensive scandal fluttering round,
Too rough to tickle, and too light to wound;
Champagne the courtier drinks, the spleen to chase,
The colonel burgundy, and port his grace;
Turtle and 'rrac the city rulers charm,
Ale and content the labouring peasants warm:
O'er the dull embers, happy Colin sits,
Colin, the prince of joke, and rural wits;
Whilst the wind whistles through the hollow panes,
He drinks, nor of the rude assault complains;
And tells the tale, from sire to son retold,
Of spirits vanishing near hidden gold;
Of moon-clad imps that tremble by the dew,
Who skim the air, or glide o'er waters blue:
The throng invisible that, doubtless, float
By mouldering tombs, and o'er the stagnant meat:
Fays dimly glancing on the russet plain,
And all the dreadful nothing of the green.
Peace be to such, the happiest and the best,
Who with the forms of fancy urge their jest;
Who wage no war with an avenger's rod,
Nor in the pride of reason curse their God.
When in the vaulted arch Lucina gleams,
And gaily dances o'er the azure streams;
On silent ether when a trembling sound
Reverberates, and wildly floats around,
Breaking through trackless space upon the ear,
Conclude the Bacchanalian rustic near:
O'er hills and vales the jovial savage reels,
Fire in his head and frenzy at his heels;
From paths direct the bending hero swerves,
And shapes his way in ill-proportioned curves.
Now safe arrived, his sleeping rib he calls,
And madly thunders on the muddy walls;
The well-known sounds an equal fury move,
For rage meets rage, as love enkindles love:
In vain the waken'd infant's accents shrill,
The humble regions of the cottage fill;
In vain the cricket chirps the mansion through,
'Tis war, and blood, and battle must ensue.
As when, on humble stage, him Satan hight
Defies the brazen hero to the fight:
From twanging strokes what dire misfortunes rise,
What fate to maple arms and glassen eyes!
Here lies a leg of elm, and there a stroke
From ashen neck has whirl'd a head of oak.
So drops from either power, with vengeance big,
A remnant night-cap and an old cut wig;
Titles unmusical retorted round,
On either ear with leaden vengeance sound;
Till equal valour, equal wounds create,
And drowsy peace concludes the fell debate;
Sleep in her woollen mantle wraps the pair,
And sheds her poppies on the ambient air;
Intoxication flies, as fury fled,
On rooky pinions quits the aching head;
Returning reason cools the fiery blood,
And drives from memory's seat the rosy god.
Yet still he holds o'er some his maddening rule.
Still sways his sceptre, and still knows his fool;
Witness the livid lip, and fiery front,
With many a smarting trophy placed upon't;
The hollow eye, which plays in misty springs,
And the hoarse voice, which rough and broken rings;
These are his triumphs, and o'er these he reigns,
The blinking deity of reeling brains.
See Inebriety! her wand she waves,
And lo! her pale, and lo! her purple slaves!
Sots in embroidery, and sots in crape,
Of every order, stat
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Submitted on May 13, 2011

3:56 min read

George Crabbe

George Crabbe was an English poet, surgeon, and clergyman. more…

All George Crabbe poems | George Crabbe Books

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