Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. III. Addison to Blake
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Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. III. The Eighteenth Century: Addison to Blake
 
A Nocturnal Reverie
By Anne Finch, Countess of Winchilsea (1661–1720)
 
IN such a night, when every louder wind
Is to its distant cavern safe confined,
And only gentle Zephyr fans his wings,
And lonely Philomel, still waking, sings,
Or from some tree, framed for the owl’s delight,        5
She, hollowing clear, directs the wanderer right,—
In such a night, when passing clouds give place,
Or thinly veil the heaven’s mysterious face,
When in some river, overhung with green,
The waving moon and trembling leaves are seen,        10
When freshened grass now bears itself upright,
And makes cool banks to pleasing rest invite,
Whence spring the woodbind and the bramble-rose,
And where the sleepy cowslip sheltered grows,
Whilst now a paler hue the foxglove takes,        15
Yet chequers still with red the dusky brakes,
Where scattered glowworms,—but in twilight fine,—
Shew trivial beauties, watch their hour to shine,
While Salisbury stands the test of every light,
In perfect charms and perfect beauty bright;        20
When odours, which declined repelling day,
Through temperate air uninterrupted stray;
When darkened groves their softest shadows wear,
And falling waters we distinctly hear;
When through the gloom more venerable shows        25
Some ancient fabric awful in repose;
While sunburned hills their swarthy looks conceal,
And swelling haycocks thicken up the vale;
When the loosed horse now, as his pasture leads,
Comes slowly grazing thro’ the adjoining meads,        30
Whose stealing pace and lengthened shade we fear,
Till torn-up forage in his teeth we hear;
When nibbling sheep at large pursue their food,
And unmolested kine rechew the cud;
When curlews cry beneath the village-walls,        35
And to her straggling brood the partridge calls;
Their short-lived jubilee the creatures keep,
Which but endures, whilst tyrant Man doth sleep;
When a sedate content the spirit feels,
And no fierce light disturbs, whilst it reveals;        40
But silent musings urge the mind to seek
Something too high for syllables to speak;
Till the free soul to a composedness charmed,
Finding the elements of rage disarmed,
O’er all below a solemn quiet grown,        45
Joys in the inferior world, and thinks it like her own:
In such a night let me abroad remain,
Till morning breaks and all ’s confused again;
Our cares, our toils, our clamours are renewed,
Our pleasures, seldom reached, again pursued.        50
 
 
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