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Happiness of a Country Life

James Thomson 1700 (Port Glasgow) – 1748 (London)

Oh! knew he but his happiness, of men
The happiest he, who, far from public rage,
Deep in the vale, with a choice few retired
Drinks the pure pleasures of the rural life.
What though the dome be wanting, whose proud gate
Each morning vomits out the sneaking crowd
Of flatt'rers false, and in their turn abused?
Vile intercourse! What though the glitt'ring robe,
Of every hue reflected light can give,
Or floating loose, or stiff with mazy gold -
The pride and gaze of fools! - oppress him not?
What though, from utmost land and sea purvey'd,
For him each rarer tributary life
Bleeds not, and his insatiatic table heaps
With luxury and death? What though his bowl
Flames not with costly juice; nor sunk in beds,
Oft of gay care, he tosses out the night,
Or melts the thoughtless hours in idle state?
What though he knows not those fantastic joys
That still amuse the wanton, still deceive,
A face of pleasure, but a heart of pain;
Their hollow moments undelighted all?
Sure peace is his; a solid life, estranged
From disappointment and fallacious hope,
Rich in content, in Nature's bounty rich,
In herbs and fruits. Whatever greens the spring,
When heaven descends in showers; or bends the bough,
When summer reddens, and when autumn beams;
Or in the wintry glebe whatever lies
Conceal'd, and fattens with the richest sap,
These are not wanting; nor the milky drove,
Luxuriant, spread o'er all the lowing vale;
Nor bleating mountains; nor the chide of streams,
And hum of bees, inviting sleep sincere
Into the guiltless breast, beneath the shade,
Or thrown at large amid the fragrant hay;
Nor aught besides of prospect, grove, or song,
Dim grottos, gleaming lakes, and fountains clear.
Here, too, dwell simple truth, plain innocence,
Unsallied beauty, sound unbroken youth,
Patient of labour, with a little pleased,
Health ever blooming, unambitious toil,
Calm contemplation, and poetic ease.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

1:38 min read
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James Thomson

James Thomson, who wrote under the pseudonym Bysshe Vanolis, was a Scottish Victorian-era poet famous primarily for the long poem The City of Dreadful Night, an expression of bleak pessimism in a dehumanized, uncaring urban environment. more…

All James Thomson poems | James Thomson Books

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