Lines Written In Hornsey Wood

A poem by Thomas Gent

Oh! ye, who pine, in London smoke immured,
With spirits wearied, and with pains uncured,
With all the catalogue of city evils,
Colds, asthmas, rheumatism, coughs, blue devils!
Who bid each bold empiric roll in wealth,
Who drains your fortunes while he saps your health:
So well ye love your dirty streets and lanes,
Ye court your ailments and embrace your pains.
And scarce ye know, so little have ye seen,
If corn be yellow, or if grass be green;
Why leave ye not your smoke-obstructed holes,
With wholesome air to cheer your sickly souls?
In scenes where Health's bright goddess wakes the breeze,
Floats on the stream, and fans the whisp'ring trees:
Soon would the brighten'd eye her influence speak,
And her full roses flush the faded cheek.

Then, where romantic Hornsey courts the eye
With all the charms of sylvan scenery,
Let the pale sons of Diligence repair,
And pause, like me, from sedentary care;
Here the rich landscape spreads profusely wide,
And here embowering shades the prospect hide:
Each mazy walk in wild meanders moves,
And infant oaks, luxuriant, grace the groves:
Oaks, that by time matured, removed afar,
Shall ride triumphant, 'midst the wat'ry war;
Shall blast the bulwarks of Britannia's foes,
And claim her empire, wide as ocean flows!
O'er all the scene, mellifluous and bland,
The blissful powers of harmony expand;
Soft sigh the zephyrs 'mid the still retreats,
And steal from Flora's lips ambrosial sweets;
Their notes of love the feather'd songsters sing,
And Cupid peeps behind the vest of Spring.

Ye swains! who ne'er obtain'd with all your sighs
One tender look from Chloe's sparkling eyes,
In shades like these her cruelty assail,
Here, whisper soft your amatory tale;
The scene to sympathy the maid shall move,
And smiles propitious crown your slighted love.

While the fresh air with fragrance summer fills,
And lifts her voice, heard jocund o'er the hills,
All jubilant the waving woods display
Her gorgeous gifts, magnificently gay!
The wond'ring eye beholds these waving woods
Reflected bright in artificial floods,
And still, the tufts of clust'ring shrubs between,
Like passing sprites, the nymphs and swains are seen;
Till fancy triumphs in th'exulting breast,
And Care shrinks back, astonish'd! dispossess'd!
For all breathes rapture, all enchantment seems,
Like fairy visions, and poetic dreams!

Though on such scenes the fancy loves to dwell,
The stomach oft a different tale will tell;
Then, leave the wood, and seek the shelt'ring roof,
And put the pantry's vital strength to proof;
The aƫrial banquets of the tuneful nine
May suit some appetites, but faith! not mine;
For my coarse palate coarser food must please,
Substantial beef, pies, puddings, ducks, and peas;
Such food the fangs of keen disease defies,
And such rare feeding Hornsey-house supplies:
Nor these alone the joys that court us here,
Wine! generous wine! that drowns corroding care,
Asserts its empire in the glittering bowl,
And pours Promethean vigour o'er the soul.
Here, too, that bluff John Bull, whose blood boils high
At such base wares of foreign luxury;
Who scorns to revel in imported cheer,
Who prides in perry, and exults in beer:
On these his surly virtue shall regale,
With quickening cyder, and with fattening ale.

Nor think, ye Fair! our Hornsey has denied
The elegant repasts where you preside:
Here, may the heart rejoice, expanding free
In all the social luxury of Tea!
Whose essence pure inspires such charming chat,
With nods, and winks, and whispers, and all that;
Here, then, while 'wrapt inspired, like Horace old,
We chant convivial hymns to Bacchus bold;
Or heave the incense of unconscious sighs,
To catch the grace that beams from beauty's eyes;
Or, in the winding wilds, sequester'd deep,
Th' unwilling Muse invoking, fall asleep;
Or cursing her, and her ungranted smiles,
Chase butterflies along the echoing aisles:
Howe'er employ'd, here be the town forgot,
Where fogs, and smoke, and jostling crowds, are not.

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