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______ Campos, ubi Troja fuit.
Where Kensington, high o'er the neighbouring lands
Midst greens and sweets, a regal fabric, stands,
And sees each spring, luxuriant in her bowers,
A snow of blossoms, and a wild of flowers,
The dames of Britain oft in crowds repair
To gravel walks, and unpolluted air.
Here, while the town in damps and darkness lies,
They breathe in sun-shine, and see azure skies;
Each walk, with robes of various dyes bespread,
Seems from afar a moving tulip-bed,
Where rich brocades and glossy damasks glow,
And chints, the rival of the showery bow.
Here England's daughter, darling of the land,
Sometimes, surrounded with her virgin band,
Gleams through the shades. She, towering o'er the rest,
Stands fairest of the fairer kind confest,
Form'd to gain hearts, that Brunswick's cause deny'd,
And charm a people to her father's side.
Long have these groves to royal guests been known,
Nor Nassau first prefer'd them to a throne.
Ere Norman banners wav'd in British air;
Ere lordly Hubba with the golden hair
Pour'd in his Danes; ere elder Julius came;
Or Dardan Brutus gave our isle a name;
A prince of Albion's lineage grac'd the wood,
The scene of wars, and stain'd with lovers' blood.
You, who thro' gazing crowds, your captive throng,
Throw pangs and passions, as you move along,
Turn on the left, ye fair, your radiant eyes,
Where all unlevel'd the gay garden lies:
If generous anguish for another's pains
Ere heav'd your hearts, or shiver'd through your veins,
Look down attentive on the pleasing dale,
And listen to my melancholy tale.
That hollow space, were now in living rows
Line above line the yew's sad verdure grows,
Was, ere the planter's hand its beauty gave,
A common pit, a rude unfashion'd cave.
The landscape now so sweet we well may praise:
But far, far sweeter in its ancient days,
Far sweeter was it, when its peopled ground
With fairy domes and dazzling towers was crown'd.
Where in the midst those verdant pillars spring,
Rose the proud palace of the Elfin king;
For every edge of vegetable green,
In happier years a crowded street was seen;
Nor all those leaves that now the prospect grace,
Could match the numbers of its pygmy race,
What urg'd this mighty empire to its fate,
A tale of woe and wonder, I relate.
When Albion rul'd the land, whose lineage came
From Neptune mingling with a mortal dame,
Their midnight pranks the sprightly fairies play'd
On every hill, and danc'd in every shade.
But, foes to sun-shine, most they took delight
In dells and dales conceal'd from human sight:
There hew'd their houses in the arching rock;
Or scoop'd the bosom of the blasted oak;
Or heard, o'ershadow'd by some shelving hill,
The distant murmurs of the falling rill.
They, rich in pilfer'd spoils, indulg'd their mirth,
And pity'd the huge wretched sons of Earth.
Ev'n now, 'tis said, the hinds o'erhear their strain,
And strive to view their airy forms in vain:
They to their cells at man's approach repair,
Like the shy leveret, or the mother-hare,
The whilst poor mortals startle at the sound
Of unseen footsteps on the haunted ground.
Amid this garden, then with woods o'ergrown,
Stood the lov'd seat of royal Oberon.
From every region to his palace-gate
Came peers and princes of the fairy state,
Who, rank'd in council round the sacred shade,
Their monarch's will and great behests obey'd.
From Thames' fair banks, by lofty towers adorn'd,
With loads of plunder oft his chiefs return'd:
Hence in proud robes, and colours bright and gay,
Shone every knight and every lovely fay.
Whoe'er on Powell's dazzling stage display'd,
Hath fam'd king Pepin and his court survey'd,
May guess, if old by modern things we trace,
The pomp and splendour of the fairy-race.
By magic fenc'd, by spells encompass'd round,
No mortal touch'd this interdicted ground;
No mortal enter'd, those alone who came
Stol'n from the couch of some terrestrial dame:
For oft of babes they robb'd the matron's bed,
And left some sickly changeling in their stead.
It chanc'd a youth of Albion's royal blood
Was foster'd here, the wonder of the wood.
Milkah for wiles above her peers renown'd,
Deep-skill'd in charms and many a mystic sound,
As through the regal dome she sought for prey,
Observ'd the infant Albion where he lay
In mantles broider'd o'er with georgeous pride,
And stole him from the sleeping mother's side.
Who now but Milkah triumphs in her mind!
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"Kensington Garden" Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 23 Jun 2021. <https://www.poetry.com/poem/37146/kensington-garden>.
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