Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE RETIREMENT; TO MR. IZAAK WALTON, by CHARLES COTTON



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THE RETIREMENT; TO MR. IZAAK WALTON, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Farewell thou busy world, and may
Last Line: Contented live, and then contented die.
Variant Title(s): In The Quiet Of Nature
Subject(s): Contentment; Walton, Izaak (1593-1683)


I

FAREWELL thou busy World, and may
We never meet again:
Here I can eat, and sleep, and pray,
And do more good in one short day,
Than he who his whole age out-wears
Upon thy most conspicuous theatres,
Where nought but vice and vanity do reign.

II

Good God! how sweet are all things here!
How beautiful the fields appear!
How cleanly do we feed and lie!
Lord! what good hours do we keep!
How quietly we sleep!
What peace! what unanimity!
How innocent from the lewd fashion,
Is all our bus'ness, all our conversation!

III

Oh how happy here's our leisure!
Oh how innocent our pleasure!
Oh ye valleys, oh ye mountains,
Oh ye groves and crystal fountains,
How I love at liberty,
By turn to come and visit ye!

IV

O Solitude, the soul's best friend,
That man acquainted with himself dost make,
And all his Maker's wonders to intend;
With thee I here converse at will,
And would be glad to do so still;
For it is thou alone that keep'st the soul awake.

V

How calm and quiet a delight
It is alone
To read, and meditate, and write,
By none offended, nor offending none;
To walk, ride, sit, or sleep at one's own ease,
And pleasing a man's self, none other to displease!

VI

Oh my beloved Nymph! fair Dove,
Princess of rivers, how I love
Upon thy flow'ry banks to lie,
And view thy silver stream,
When gilded by a Summer's beam,
And in it all thy wanton fry
Playing at liberty,
And with my angle upon them,
The all of treachery
I ever learn'd to practise and to try!

VII

Such streams Rome's yellow Tiber cannot show,
The Iberian Tagus, nor Ligurian Po;
The Meuse, the Danube, and the Rhine,
Are puddle-water all compared with thine;
And Loire's pure streams yet too polluted are
With thine much purer to compare:
The rapid Garonne, and the winding Seine
Are both too mean,
Beloved Dove, with thee
To vie priority:
Nay, Tame and Isis, when conjoined, submit,
And lay their trophies at thy silver feet.

VIII

Oh my beloved rocks! that rise
To awe the earth, and brave the skies,
From some aspiring mountain's crown
How dearly do I love,
Giddy with pleasure, to look down,
And from the vales to view the noble heights above!

IX

Oh my beloved caves! from dog-star heats,
And hotter persecution safe retreats,
What safety, privacy, what true delight
In the artificial night
Your gloomy entrails make,
Have I taken, do I take!
How oft, when grief has made me fly
To hide me from Society,
Even of my dearest Friends, have I
In your recesses friendly shade
All my sorrows open laid,
And my most secret woes entrusted to your privacy!

X

Lord! would men let me alone,
What an over-happy one
Should I think myself to be,
Might I in this desert place,
Which most men by their voice disgrace,
Live but undisturbed and free!
Here, in this despised recess,
Would I maugre Winter's cold,
And the Summer's worst excess,
Try to live out to sixty full years old,
And all the while
Without an envious eye
On any thriving under Fortune's smile,
Contented live, and then contented die.





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