Reference > Anthologies > Warner, et al., eds. > The Library > Verse

C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
To Evening
By William Collins (1721–1759)
IF aught of oaten stop, or pastoral song,
May hope, chaste Eve, to soothe thy modest ear
          Like thy own solemn springs,
          Thy springs and dying gales;
O nymph reserved! while now the bright-haired sun        5
Sits in yon western tent, whose cloudy skirts,
          With brede ethereal wove,
          O’erhang his wavy bed:—
Now air is hushed, save where the weak-eyed bat
With short shrill shriek flits by on leathern wing;        10
          Or where the beetle winds
          His small but sullen horn,
As oft he rises ’midst the twilight path,
Against the pilgrim borne in heedless hum:
          Now teach me, maid composed,        15
          To breathe some softened strain,
Whose numbers, stealing through thy dark’ning vale,
May not unseemly with its stillness suit,
          As, musing slow, I hail
          Thy genial loved return!        20
For when thy folding-star arising shows
His paly circlet, at his warning lamp
          The fragrant hours, and elves
          Who slept in buds the day,
And many a nymph who wreathes her brows with sedge,        25
And sheds the freshening dew, and lovelier still,
          The pensive Pleasures sweet,
          Prepare thy shadowy car,—
Then let me rove some wild and heathy scene,
Or find some ruin ’midst its dreary dells,        30
          Whose walls more awful nod
          By thy religious gleams.
Or if chill blustering winds, or driving rain,
Prevent my willing feet, be mine the hut
          That from the mountain’s side        35
          Views wilds and swelling floods,
And hamlets brown, and dim-discovered spires,
And hears their simple bell, and marks o’er all
          Thy dewy fingers draw
          The gradual dusky veil.        40
While Spring shall pour his showers, as oft he wont,
And bathe thy breathing tresses, meekest Eve!
          While Summer loves to sport
          Beneath thy lingering light:
While sallow Autumn fills thy lap with leaves;        45
Or Winter, yelling through the troublous air,
          Affrights thy shrinking train,
          And rudely rends thy robes:
So long, regardful of thy quiet rule,
Shall Fancy, Friendship, Science, smiling Peace,        50
          Thy gentlest influence own,
          And love thy favorite name!

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