The Farmer’s life displays in every part
A moral lesson to the sensual heart.
Though in the lap of Plenty, thoughtful still,
He looks beyond the present good or ill;
Nor estimates 
From changeful seasons, or capricious earth;
But views the future with the present hours,
And looks for failures as he looks for showers;
For casual as for certain want prepares,
And round his yard the reeking haystack rears;10
Or clover, blossom’d lovely to the sight,
His team’s rich store through many a wint’ry night.
What though abundance round his dwelling spreads,
Though ever moist his self-improving meads
Supply his dairy with a copious flood,15
And seem to promise unexhausted food,
That promise fails, when buried deep in snow,
And vegetative juices cease to flow.
For this, his plough turns up the destin’d lands,
Whence stormy Winter draws its full demands;20
For this, the seed minutely small he sows,
Whence, sound and sweet, the hardy turnip grows.
But how unlike to April’s
High climbs the Sun, and darts his pow’rful rays;
Whitens the fresh-drawn mould, and pierces 
The cumb’rous clods that tumble round the plough.
O’er heaven’s bright azure hence with joyful eyes
The Farmer sees dark clouds assembling rise;
Borne o’er his fields a heavy torrent falls,
And strikes the earth in hasty driving squalls.30
‘Right welcome down, ye precious drops,’ he cries;
But soon, too soon, the partial blessing flies.
‘Boy, bring thy  harrows, try how deep the rain
Has  forc’d its way
.’ He comes, but comes in vain;
Dry dust beneath the bubbling surface lurks,35
And mocks his pains the more, the more he works:
Still midst huge clods he plunges on forlorn,
That laugh his harrows and the shower to scorn.
E’en thus the living clod, the stubborn fool,
Resists the stormy lectures of the school,40
Till tried with gentler means, the dunce to please,
His head imbibes right reason by degrees;
As when from eve till morning’s wakeful hour,
Light, constant rain, evinces 
And ere 
the day resume 
Presents a cheerful easy task for Giles.
Down with a touch the mellow’d soil is laid,
And yon tall crop next claims his timely aid;
Thither well pleas’d he hies, assur’d to find
Wild trackless haunts, and objects to his mind.50
Shot up from broad rank blades that droop below,
The nodding Wheat-ear forms a graceful bow,
With milky kernels starting full, weigh’d down,
Ere yet the sun hath ting’d its head with brown;
thousands in a flock, for ever gay,55
Loud chirping sparrows welcome on the day,
And from the mazes of the leafy thorn
Drop one by one upon the bending corn;
Giles with a pole assails their close retreats,
And round the grass-grown dewy border beats,60
On either side completely overspread,
Here branches bend, there corn o’ertops his head.
Green covert, hail! for through the varying year
No hours so sweet, no scene to him so dear.
Here Wisdom’s placid eye delighted sees65
His frequent intervals of lonely ease,
And with one ray his infant soul inspires,
Just kindling there her never-dying fires,
Whence solitude derives peculiar charms,
And heaven-directed thought his bosom warms.70
Just where the parting bough’s light shadows play,
Scarce in the shade, nor in the scorching day,
Stretch’d on the turf he lies, a peopled bed,
Where swarming insects creep around his head.
The small dust-colour’d beetle climbs with pain75
O’er the smooth plantain-leaf, a spacious plain!
Thence higher still, by countless steps convey’d,
He gains the summit of a shiv’ring blade,
And flirts his filmy wings, and looks around,
Exulting in his distance from the ground.80
The tender speckled moth here dancing seen,
The vaulting grasshopper of glossy green,
And all prolific Summer’s sporting train,
Their little lives by various pow’rs sustain.
But what can unassisted vision do?85
What, but recoil where most it would pursue;
His patient gaze but finish with a sigh,
When music waking speaks the sky-lark 
Just starting from the corn she cheerly sings,
And trusts with conscious pride her 
Still louder breathes, and in the face of day
Mounts up, and calls on Giles
to mark her 
Close to his eyes his hat he instant bends,
And forms a friendly telescope that lends
Just aid enough to dull the glaring light,95
And place the wand’ing bird before his sight;
Yet oft beneath a cloud she 
Lost for awhile, yet pours her 
He views the spot, and as 
the cloud moves by,
Again she 
stretches up the clear blue sky;100
Save when she 
wheels direct from shade to light:
The flutt’ring songstress 
a mere speck became,
Like fancy’s floating 
bubbles in a dream;
He sees her yet, 
but yielding to repose,105
Unwittingly his jaded eyelids close.
Delicious sleep! From sleep who could forbear,
With no more guilt than Giles, and no more care?
Peace o’er his slumbers waves her guardian wing,
Nor conscience once disturbs 
him with a
He wakes refresh’d from every trivial pain,
And takes his pole and brushes round again.
Its dark-green hue, its sicklier tints all fail,
And rip’ening harvest rustles in the gale.
A glorious sight, if glory dwells below,115
Where Heaven’s munificence makes all the show,
O’er every field and golden prospect found,
That glads the ploughman’s Sunday morning’s round,
When on some eminence he takes his stand,
To judge the smiling produce of the land.120
Here Vanity slinks back, her head to hide:
What is there here to flatter human pride?
The tow’ring fabric, or the dome’s loud roar,
And stedfast columns, may astonish more,
Where the charm’d gazer long delighted stays,125
Yet trac’d 
but to the architect
Whilst here, the veriest clown that treads the sod,
Without one scruple, gives the praise to God;
And twofold joys possess his raptur’d mind,
From gratitude and admiration join’d.130
Here, midst the boldest triumphs of her worth,
Nature herself invites the Reapers forth;
Dares the keen sickle from its twelvemonth’s rest,
And gives that ardour which in every breast
From infancy to age alike appears,135
When the first sheaf its plumy top uprears.
No rake takes here what Heaven to all bestows:
Children of want, for you the bounty flows!
And every cottage from the plenteous store
Receives a burden nightly at its door.140
Hark! where the sweeping scythe now rips along:
Each sturdy Mower emulous and strong;
Whose writhing form 
meridian heat defies,
Bends o’er his work, and every sinew tries;
Prostrates the waving treasure at his feet,145
But spares the rising clover, short and sweet.
Come, Health! come, Jollity! light-footed, come;
Here hold your revels, and make this your home.
Each heart awaits and hails you as its own;
Each moisten’d brow, that scorns to wear a frown:150
Th’ unpeopled dwelling mourns its tenants stray’d;
E’en the domestic laughing dairy-maid
Hies to the Field, the general toil to share.
Meanwhile the Farmer quits his elbow-chair,
His cool brick-floor, his pitcher, and his ease,155
And braves the sultry beams, and gladly sees
His gates thrown open, and his team abroad,
The ready group attendant on his word,
To turn the swarth, the quiv’ring load to rear,
Or ply the busy rake, the land to clear.160
Summer’s light garb itself now cumb’rous grown,
Each his thin doublet in the shade throws down;
Where oft the mastiff sculks with half-shut eye,
And rouses at the stranger passing by;
Whilst unrestrain’d the social converse flows,165
And every breast Love’s pow’rful impulse knows,
And rival wits with more than rustic grace
Confess the presence of a pretty face;
For, lo! encircled there, the lovely Maid,
In youth’s own bloom and native smiles array’d;  170
Her hat awry, divested of her gown,
Her creaking stays of leather, stout and brown;…
Invidious barrier! why art thou so high,
When the slight cov’ring of her neck slips by,
There half revealing to the eager sight175
Her full, ripe bosom, exquisitely white?
In many a local tale of harmless mirth,
And many a jest of momentary birth,
She bears a part, and as she stops to speak,
Strokes back the ringlets from her glowing cheek.180
Now noon gone by, and four declining hours,
The weary limbs relax their boasted pow’rs;
Thirst rages strong, the fainting spirits fail,
And ask 
the sov’reign cordial, home-brew’d
Beneath some shelt’ring heap of yellow corn185
Rests the hoop’d keg, 
and friendly cooling horn,
That mocks alike the goblet’s brittle frame,
Its costlier potions, and its nobler name.
To Mary first the brimming draught is given,
By toil made welcome as the dews of heaven,190
And never lip that press’d its homely edge
Had kinder blessings or a heartier pledge.
Of wholesome viands here a banquet smiles,
A common cheer for all;…e’en humble Giles,
Who joys his trivial services to yield195
Amidst the fragrance of the open field;
Oft doom’d in suffocating heat to bear
The cobweb’d barn’s impure and dusty air;
To ride in murky state the panting steed,
Destin’d aloft th’ unloaded grain to tread,200
Where, in his path as heaps on heaps are thrown,
He rears, and plunges the loose mountain down:
Laborious task! with what delight when done
Both horse and rider greet th’ unclouded sun!
Yet by th’ unclouded sun are hourly bred205
The bold assailants that surround thine head,
Poor patient Ball! and with insulting wing
Roar in thine ears, and dart the piercing sting:
In thy behalf the crest-wav’d 
More than thy short-clipt remnant of a tail,210
A moving mockery, a useless name,
A living proof of cruelty and shame.
Shame to the man, whatever fame he bore,
Who took from thee what man can ne’er restore,
Thy weapon of defence, thy chiefest good,215
When swarming flies contending suck thy blood.
Nor thine alone the suff’ring, thine the care,
The fretful Ewe bemoans an equal share;
Tormented into sores, her head she hides,
Or angry brushes 
from her new-shorn
Pen’d in the yard, e’en now at closing day
Unruly Cows with mark’d impatience stay,
And vainly striving to escape their foes,
The pail kick down; a piteous current flows.
Is’t not enough that plagues like these molest?225
Must still another foe annoy their rest?
He comes, the pest and terror of the yard,
His full-fledg’d progeny’s imperious guard;
The Gander;…spiteful, insolent, and bold,
At the colt’s footlock takes his daring hold;230
There, serpent-like, escapes a dreadful blow;
And straight attacks a poor defenceless cow:
Each booby goose th’ unworthy strife enjoys,
And hails his prowess with redoubled noise.
Then back he stalks, of self-importance full,235
Seizes the shaggy foretop of the bull,
Till whirl’d aloft he falls; a timely check,
Enough to dislocate his worthless neck:
For lo! of old, he boasts an honour’d wound;
Behold that broken wing that trails the ground!240
Thus fools and bravoes kindred pranks pursue;
As savage quite, and oft as fatal too.
Happy the man that foils an envious elf,
the darts of spleen to serve himself.
As when by turns the strolling Swine engage245
The utmost efforts of the bully’s rage,
Whose nibbling warfare on the grunter’s side
Is welcome pleasure to his bristly hide;
Gently he stoops, or lays himself 
the insults of the gabbling
throng,  250
That march exulting round his fallen head,
As human victors trample on their dead.
Still Twilight, welcome! Rest, how sweet art thou!
Now eve o’erhangs the western cloud’s thick brow;
The far-stretch’d curtain of retiring light,255
With fiery treasures fraught, that on the sight
Flash from its bulging sides, where darkness lours,
In Fancy’s eye, a chain of mould’ring tow’rs;
Or craggy coasts just rising into view,
Midst jav’lins dire, and darts of streaming blue.260
Anon tir’d labourers bless their shelt’ring homes, 
, and the frightful Tempest
The Farmer wakes, and sees with silent dread
The angry shafts of Heaven gleam round his bed;
The bursting cloud reiterated roars,265
Shakes his straw roof, and jars his bolted doors:
The slow-wing’d storm along the troubled skies
Spreads its dark course; the wind begins to rise;
And full-leav’d elms, his dwelling’s shade by day,
With mimic thunder give its fury way:270
Sounds in his chimney top a doleful peal,
Midst pouring rain, or gusts of rattling hail;
With tenfold danger low the tempest bends,
And quick and strong the sulph’urous flame descends:
The fright’ned mastiff from his kennel flies,275
And cringes at the door with piteous cries….
Where now’s 
the trifler? where the child of
These are the moments when the heart is try’d!
Nor lives the man with conscience e’er so clear,
But feels a solemn, reverential fear;280
Feels too a joy relieve his aching breast,
When the spent storm hath howl’d itself to rest.
Still, welcome beats the long continued show’r,
And sleep protracted, comes with double pow’r;
Calm dreams of bliss bring 
on the morning
For every barn is fill’d, and Harvest done!
Now, ere sweet Summer bids its long adieu,
And winds blow keen where late the blossom grew,
The bustling day and jovial night must come,
The long accustom’d feast of Harvest-home.290
No blood-stain’d victory, in story bright,
Can give the philosophic mind delight;
No triumph please while 
rage and death destroy:
Reflection sickens at the monstrous joy.
And where the joy, if rightly understood,295
Like cheerful praise for universal good?
The soul nor cheek nor doubtful anguish knows,
But free and pure the grateful current flows.
Behold the sound oak table’s massy frame
Bestride the kitchen floor! the careful dame300
And gen’rous host invite their friends around,
all that clear’d the crop, or till’d the ground,
Are guests by right of custom:…old and young;
And many a neighbouring yeoman join the throng,
With artizans that lent their dext’rous aid,305
When o’er each field the flaming sun-beams play’d.—
Yet Plenty reigns, and from her boundless hoard,
Though not one jelly trembles on the board,
Supplies the feast with all that sense can crave;
With all that made our great forefathers brave,310
Ere the cloy’d palate countless flavours try’d,
And cooks had Nature’s judgment set aside.
With thanks to Heaven, and tales of rustic lore,
The mansion echoes when the banquet’s o’er;
A wider circle spreads, and smiles abound,315
As quick the frothing horn performs its round;
Care’s mortal foe; that sprightly joys imparts 
To cheer the frame and elevate their hearts. 
Here, fresh and brown, the hazel’s produce lies
In tempting heaps, and peals of laughter rise,320
And crackling Music, with the frequent Song,
Unheeded bear the midnight hour along.
Here once a year Distinction low’rs its crest,
The master, servant, and the merry guest,
Are equal all; and round the happy ring325
The reaper’s eyes 
exulting glances fling,
And, warm’d with gratitude, he quits his place,
With sun-burnt hands and ale-enliven’d face,
Refills the jug his honour’d host to tend,
To serve at once the master and the friend;330
Proud thus to meet his smiles, to share his tale,
His nuts, his conversation, and his ale.
Such were the days,…of days long past I sing,…
When Pride gave place to mirth without a sting;
Ere tyrant customs strength sufficient bore335
To violate the feelings of the poor;
To leave them distanc’d in the mad’ning race,
Where’er Refinement shews its hated face:
Nor causeless hated; ’tis the peasant’s curse,
That hourly makes his wretched station worse;340
Destroys life’s intercourse; 
the social plan
That rank to rank cements, as man to man:
Wealth flows around him, fashion lordly reigns;
Yet poverty is his, and mental pains.
Methinks I hear the mourner thus impart345
The stifled murmurs of his wounded heart:
‘Whence comes this change, ungracious, irksome, cold?
Whence the new grandeur that mine eyes behold?
The wid’ning distance which I daily see,
Has Wealth done this?…then wealth’s a foe to me;350
Foe to our rights; that leaves a pow’rful few
The paths of emulation to pursue:…
For emulation stoops to us no more:
The hope of humble industry is o’er;
The blameless hope, the cheering sweet presage355
Of future comforts for declining age.
Can my sons share from this paternal hand
The profits with the labours of the land?
No; though indulgent Heaven its blessing deigns,
Where’s the small farm to suit my scanty means?360
Content, the poet sings, with us resides,
In lonely cots like mine the damsel hides;
And will he then in raptur’d visions tell
That sweet Content with Want can ever dwell?
A barley loaf, ’tis true, my table crowns,365
That fast diminishing in lusty rounds,
Stops Nature’s cravings; yet her sighs will flow
From knowing this,…that once it was not so.
Our annual feast, when Earth her plenty yields,
When crown’d with boughs the last load quits the fields,370
The aspect still of ancient joy puts on;
The aspect only, with the substance gone:
The self-same Horn is still at our command,
But serves none now but 
For home-brew’d Ale, neglected and debas’d,375
Is quite discarded from the realms of taste.
Where unaffected Freedom charm’d the soul,
The separate table and the costly bowl,
Cool as the blast that checks the budding Spring,
A mockery of gladness round them fling.380
For oft the Farmer, ere his heart approves,
Yields up the custom which he dearly loves:
Refinement forces on him like a tide;
Bold innovations down its current ride,
That bear no peace beneath their shewy dress,385
Nor add one tittle to his happiness.
His guests selected; rank’s punctilios known;
What trouble waits upon a casual frown!
Restraint’s foul manacles his pleasures maim;
Selected guests selected phrases claim:390
Nor reigns that joy when hand in hand they join
That good old Master felt in shaking mine.
Heaven bless his memory! bless his honour’d name!
(The poor will speak his lasting worthy fame:) 
To souls fair-purpos’d strength and guidance give;395
In pity to us still let goodness live:
Let labour have its due! my cot shall be
From chilling want and guilty murmurs free:
Let labour have its due;…then peace is mine,
And never, never shall my heart repine.’  400