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Cyder: Book I

-- -- Honos erit huic quoq; Pomo? Virg.

  What Soil the Apple loves, what Care is due
  To Orchats, timeliest when to press the Fruits,
  Thy Gift, Pomona, in Miltonian Verse
  Adventrous I presume to sing; of Verse
  Nor skill'd, nor studious: But my Native Soil
  Invites me, and the Theme as yet unsung.

  Ye Ariconian Knights, and fairest Dames,
  To whom propitious Heav'n these Blessings grants,
  Attend my Layes; nor hence disdain to learn,
  How Nature's Gifts may be improv'd by Art.

  And thou, O Mostyn, whose Benevolence,
 And Candor, oft experienc'd, Me vouchsaf'd
  To knit in Friendship, growing still with Years,
  Accept this Pledge of Gratitude and Love.
  May it a lasting Monument remain
  Of dear Respect; that, when this Body frail
  Is moulder'd into Dust, and I become
  As I had never been, late Times may know
  I once was blest in such a matchless Friend.

  Who-e'er expects his lab'ring Trees shou'd bend
  With Fruitage, and a kindly Harvest yield,
  Be this his first Concern; to find a Tract
  Impervious to the Winds, begirt with Hills,
  That intercept the Hyperborean Blasts
  Tempestuous, and cold Eurus nipping Force,
  Noxious to feeble Buds: But to the West
  Let him free Entrance grant, let Zephyrs bland
  Administer their tepid genial Airs;
  Naught fear he from the West, whose gentle Warmth
  Discloses well the Earth's all-teeming Womb,
  Invigorating tender Seeds; whose Breath
  Nurtures the Orange, and the Citron Groves,
  Hesperian Fruits, and wafts their Odours sweet
  Wide thro' the Air, and distant Shores perfumes.
  Nor only do the Hills exclude the Winds:
  But, when the blackning Clouds in sprinkling Show'rs
  Distill, from the high Summits down the Rain
  Runs trickling; with the fertile Moisture chear'd,
  The Orchats smile; joyous the Farmers see
  Their thriving Plants, and bless the heav'nly Dew.

  Next, let the Planter, with Discretion meet,
  The Force and Genius of each Soil explore;
  To what adapted, what it shuns averse:
  Without this necessary Care, in vain
  He hopes an Apple-Vintage, and invokes
  Pomona's Aid in vain. The miry Fields,
  Rejoycing in rich Mold, most ample Fruit
  Of beauteous Form produce; pleasing to Sight,
  But to the Tongue inelegant and flat.
  So Nature has decreed; so, oft we see
  Men passing fair, in outward Lineaments
  Elaborate; less, inwardly, exact.
  Nor from the sable Ground expect Success,
  Nor from cretaceous, stubborn and jejune:
  The Must, of pallid Hue, declares the Soil
  Devoid of Spirit; wretched He, that quaffs
  Such wheyish Liquors; oft with Colic Pangs,
  With pungent Colic Pangs distress'd, he'll roar,
  And toss, and turn, and curse th' unwholsome Draught.
  But, Farmer, look, where full-ear'd Sheaves of Rye
  Grow wavy on the Tilth, that Soil select
  For Apples; thence thy Industry shall gain
  Ten-fold Reward; thy Garners, thence with Store
  Surcharg'd, shall burst; thy Press with purest Juice
  Shall flow, which, in revolving Years, may try
  Thy feeble Feet, and bind thy fault'ring Tongue.
  Such is the Kentchurch, such Dantzeyan Ground,
  Such thine, O learned Brome, and Capel such,
  Willisian Burlton, much-lov'd Geers his Marsh,
  And Sutton-Acres, drench'd with Regal Blood
  Of Ethelbert, when to th' unhallow'd Feast
  Of Mercian Offa he invited came,
  To treat of Spousals: Long connubial Joys
  He promis'd to himself, allur'd by Fair
  Elfrida's Beauty; but deluded dy'd
  In height of Hopes -- Oh! hardest Fate, to fall
  By Shew of Friendship, and pretended Love!

  I nor advise, nor reprehend the Choice
  Of Marcley-Hill; the Apple no where finds
  A kinder Mold: Yet 'tis unsafe to trust
  Deceitful Ground: Who knows but that, once more,
  This Mount may journey, and, his present Site
  Forsaking, to thy Neighbours Bounds transfer
  The goodly Plants, affording Matter strange
  For Law-Debates? If, therefore, thou incline
  To deck this Rise with Fruits of various Tastes,
  Fail not by frequent Vows t' implore Success;
  Thus piteous Heav'n may fix the wand'ring Glebe.

  But if (for Nature doth not share alike
  Her Gifts) an happy Soil shou'd be with-held;
  If a penurious Clay shou'd be thy Lot,
  Or rough unweildy Earth, nor to the Plough,
  Nor to the Cattle kind, with sandy Stones
  And Gravel o'er-abounding, think it not
  Beneath thy Toil; the sturdy Pear-tree here
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Submitted on May 13, 2011

3:38 min read

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