A Collection of English Poems, 1660-1800

By Ronald S. Crane | Go to book overview

And now to the damsel that's merry.
Chorus. Let the toast pass, &c.

For let 'em be clumsy, or let 'em be slim,
Young or ancient, I care not a feather;
20 So fill a pint bumper quite up to the brim,
And let us e'en toast them together.
Chorus. Let the toast pass, &c.


GEORGE CRABBE
( 1754-1772-1832)

The Village1

Book I

The Subject proposed--Remarks upon Pastoral Poetry--A Tract of Country
near the Coast described--An impoverished Borough--Smugglers and their
Assistants--Rude Manners of the Inhabitants--Ruinous Effects of a high
Tide--The Village Life more generally considered: Evils of it--The youthful
Labourer--The old Man: his Soliloquy--The Parish Workhouse: its Inhabi-
tants--The sick Poor: their Apothecary--The dying Pauper--The Village
Priest.

THE Village Life, and every care that reigns
O'er youthful peasants and declining swains;
What labour yields, and what, that labour past,
Age, in its hour of languor, finds at last;
What form the real picture of the poor, 5 Demand a song--the Muse can give no more.

Fled are those times when, in harmonious strains,
The rustic poet praised his native plains.
No shepherds now, in smooth alternate verse,
Their country's beauty or their nymphs' rehearse;10 Yet still for these we frame the tender strain,
Still in our lays fond Corydons complain,
And shepherds' boys their amorous pains reveal,
The only pains, alas! they never feel.

On Mincio's banks, in Cæsar's bounteous reign, 50 If Tityrus found the Golden Age again,
Must sleepy bards the flattering dream prolong,
Mechanic echoes of the Mantuan song?
From Truth and Nature shall we widely stray,

____________________
1
Published in 1783. Text of Works, 1823, with some modifications in punctuation.

-935-

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