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That idleness has ever yet contriv'd
To fill the void of an unfurnish'd brain,
To palliate dullness, and give time a shove.
Time, as he passes us, has a dove's wing,
Unfoil'd and swift, and of a filken sound;
But the world's time, is time in masquerade.
Theirs, should I paint him, has his pinions fledg’d
With motley plumes, and where the peacock shows
His azure eyes, is tinctur'd black and red
With spots quadrangular of di'mond form,
Enfanguin'd hearts, clubs typical of strife,
And spades, the emblem of untimely graves.
What should be, and what was an hour-glass once,
Becomes a dice-box, and a billiard mast
Well does the work of his destructive scythe.
Thus deck's, he charms a world whom fashion blinds
To his true worth, most pleas'd when idle most,
Whose only happy are their wafted hours,
Ev'n misses, at whose age their mother's wore
The back-string and the bib, affume the dress
Of womanhood, sit pupils in the school
Of card-devoted time, and, night by night,
Plac'd at some vacant corner of the board,
Learn ev'ry trick, and soon play all the game.
But truce with censure. Roving as I rove,
Where shall I find an end, or how proceed?
As he that travels far, oft turns aside
To view some rugged rock or mould'ring tow'r,
Which seen, delights him not; then coming home,
Describes and prints it, that the world may know
How far he went for what was nothing worth;
So I, with brush in hand and pallet spread,
With colours mix'd for a far diff'rent use,
Paint cards and dolls, and ev'ry idle thing
That fancy finds in her excursive flights.
Come, Evening, once again, season of peace,
Return, sweet Evening, and continue long!
Methinks I see thee in the streaky west,
With matron-step Now-moving, while the night
Treads on thy sweeping train; one hand employ'd.
In letting fall the curtain of repose
On bird and beast, the other charg'd for man
With sweet oblivion of the cares of day :
Not sumptuously adorn'd, nor needing aid,
Like homely featur'd night, of clust'ring gems;
A star or two, just twinkling on thy brow,
Suffices thee ; save that the moon is thine
No less than hers, not worn indeed on high
With oftentatious pageantry, but fet
With modest grandeur in thy purple zone,
Resplendent less, but of an ampler round.
Come then, and thou shalt find thy vot’ry calm,
Or make me so. Composure is thy gift:
And whether I devote thy gentle hours
To books, to music, or the poet's toil;
To weaving nets for bird-alluring fruit ;
Or twining silken threads round iv'ry reels,
When they command whom man was born to please;
I night thee not, but make thee welcome ftill.
Just when our drawing-rooms begin to blaze
With lights, by clear reflection multiplied
From many a mirrour, in which he of Gath,
Goliah, might have seen his giant bulk
Whole, without stooping, tow'ring crest and all,
My pleasures too begin. But me, perhaps,
The glowing hearth may satisfy awhile
With faint illumination, that uplifts
The shadow to the ceiling, there by fits
Dancing uncouthly to the quiv’ring flame.
Not undelightful is an hour to me
So spent in parlour twilight; such a gloom
Suits well the thoughtful or unthinking mind,
The mind contemplative, with some new theme
Pregnant, or indispos’d alike to all.
Laugh ye, who boast your more inercurial pow'rs,
That never feel a stupor, know no'pause,
Nor need one; I am conscious, and confess,
Fearless, a foul that does not always think.
Me oft has fancy, ludicrous and wild,
Sooth'd with a waking dream of houses, tow'rs,
Trees, churches, and strange visages, express'd
In the red cinders, while with poring eye
I gaz'd, myself creating what I saw.
Nor less amus'd have I quiescent watch'd
The footy films that play upon the bars
Pendulous, and foreboding, in the view
Of superstition, prophesying still,
Though still deceiv'd, some stranger's near approach.
'Tis thus the understanding takes repose
In indolent vacuity of thought,
And Neeps and is refresh'd. Meanwhile the face
Conceals the mood lethargic with a mask
Of deep deliberation, as the man
Were talk'd to his full strength, absorb'd and loft.
Thus oft, reclin'd at ease, I lose an hour
At evening, till at length the freezing blast,
That sweeps the bolted shutter, summons home
The recollected powers, and snapping short
The glasly threads, with which the fancy weaves