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Horace Smith (Горацио Смит)


Letter From The Town Mouse To The Country Mouse


I.

Oh for a field, my friend; oh for a field!
I ask no more
Than one plain field, shut in by hedgerows four,
Contentment sweet to yield.
For I am not fastidious,
And, with a proud demeanour, I
Will not affect invidious
Distinctions about scenery.
I sigh not for the fir trees where they rise
Against Italian skies,
Swiss lakes, or Scottish heather,
Set off with glorious weather;
Such sights as these
The most exacting please;
But I, lone wanderer in London streets,
Where every face one meets
Is full of care,
And seems to wear
A troubled air,
Of being late for some affair
Of life or death:--thus I, ev'n I,
Long for a field of grass, flat, square, and green
Thick hedges set between,
Without or house or bield,
A sense of quietude to yield;
And heave my longing sigh,
Oh for a field, my friend; oh for a field!

II.

For here the loud streets roar themselves to rest
With hoarseness every night;
And greet returning light
With noise and roar, renewed with greater zest.
Where'er I go,
Full well I know
The eternal grinding wheels will never cease.
There is no place of peace!
Rumbling, roaring, and rushing,
Hurrying, crowding, and crushing,
Noise and confusion, and worry, and fret,
From early morning to late sunset--
Ah me! but when shall I respite get--
What cave can hide me, or what covert shield?
So still I sigh,
And raise my cry,
Oh for a field, my friend; oh for a field!

III.

Oh for a field, where all concealed,
From this life's fret and noise,
I sip delights from rural sights,
And simple rustic joys.
Where, stretching forth my limbs at rest,
I lie and think what likes me best;
Or stroll about where'er I list,
Nor fear to be run over
By sheep, contented to exist
Only on grass and clover.
In town, as through the throng I steer,
Confiding in the Muses,
My finest thoughts are drowned in fear
Of cabs and omnibuses.
I dream I'm on Parnassus hill,
With laurels whispering o'er me,
When suddenly I feel a chill--
What was it passed before me?
A lady bowed her gracious head
From yonder natty brougham--
The windows were as dull as lead,
I didn't know her through them.
She'll say I saw her, cut her dead,--
I've lost my opportunity;
I take my hat off when she's fled,
And bow to the community!
Or sometimes comes a hansom cab,
Just as I near the crossing;
The 'cabby' gives his reins a grab,
The steed is wildly tossing.
Me, haply fleeing from his horse,
He greets with language somewhat coarse,
To which there's no replying;
A brewer's dray comes down that way,
And simply sends me flying!
I try the quiet streets, but there
I find an all-pervading air
Of death in life, which my despair
In no degree diminishes.
Then homewards wend my weary way,
And read dry law books as I may,
No solace will they yield.
And so the sad day finishes
With one long sigh and yearning cry,
Oh for a field, my friend; oh for a field!

IV.

The fields are bright, and all bedight
With buttercups and daisies;
Oh, how I long to quit the throng
Of human forms and faces:
The vain delights, the empty shows,
The toil and care bewild'rin',
To feel once more the sweet repose
Calm Nature gives her children.
At times the thrush shall sing, and hush
The twitt'ring yellow-hammer;
The blackbird fluster from the bush
With panic-stricken clamour;
The finch in thistles hide from sight,
And snap the seeds and toss 'em;
The blue-tit hop, with pert delight,
About the crab-tree blossom;
The homely robin shall draw near,
And sing a song most tender;
The black-cap whistle soft and clear,
Swayed on a twig top slender;
The weasel from the hedge-row creep,
So crafty and so cruel,
The rabbit from the tussock leap,
And splash the frosty jewel.
I care not what the season be--
Spring, summer, autumn, winter--
In morning sweet, or noon-day heat,
Or when the moonbeams glint, or
When rosy beams and fiery gleams,
And floods of golden yellow,
Proclaim the sweetest hour of all--
The evening mild and mellow.
There, though the spring shall backward keep,
And loud the March winds bluster,
The white anemone shall peep
Through loveliest leaves in cluster.
There primrose pale or violet blue
Shall gleam between the grasses;
And stitchwort white fling starry light,
And blue bells blaze in masses.
As summer grows and spring-time goes,
O'er all the hedge shall ramble
The woodbine and the wilding rose,
And blossoms of the bramble.
When autumn comes, the leafy ways
To red and yellow turning,
With hips and haws the hedge shall blaze,
And scarlet briony burning.
When winter reigns and sheets of snow,
The flowers and grass lie under;
The sparkling hoar frost yet shall show,
A world of fairy wonder.
To me more dear such scenes appear,
Than this eternal racket,
No longer will I fret and fag!
Hey! call a cab, bring down my bag,
And help me quick to pack it.
For here one must go where every one goes,
And meet shoals of people whom one never knows,
Till it makes a poor fellow dyspeptic;
And the world wags along with its sorrows and shows,
And will do just the same when I'm dead I suppose;
And I'm rapidly growing a sceptic.
For its oh, alas, well-a-day, and a-lack!
I've a pain in my head and an ache in my back;
A terrible cold that makes me shiver,
And a general sense of a dried-up liver;
And I feel I can hardly bear it.
And it's oh for a field with four hedgerows,
And the bliss which comes from an hour's repose,
And a true, true friend to share it. 



Horace Smith's other poems:
  1. An Olde Lyric
  2. The Curate To His Slippers
  3. Effusion By A Cigar Smoker
  4. Prothalamion
  5. Young England


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