The Shepherd Boy.

The rain was pattering o’er the low thatch’d shed1
That gave us shelter. There was a shepherd boy2
Stretching his lazy limbs on the rough straw3
In vacant happiness. A tatter’d sack4
Cover’d his sturdy loins, while his rude legs5
Were deck’d with uncouth patches of all hues,6
Iris and jet, through which his sun-burnt skin7
Peep’d forth in dainty contrast. He was a glory8
For painter’s eye ; and his quaint draperies9
Would harmonize with some fair sylvan scene,10
Where arching groves, and flower-embroider’d banks,11
Verdant with thymy grass, tempted the sheep12
To scramble up their height, while he, reclin’d13
Upon the pillowing moss, lay listlessly14
Through the long summer’s day. Not such as he15
In plains of Thessaly, as poets feign,16
Went piping forth at the first gleam of morn,17
And in their bowering thickets dreamt of joy,18
And innocence, and love. Let the true lay19
Speak thus of the poor hind :— his indolent gaze20
Reck’d not of natural beauties ; his delights21
Were gross and sensual : not the glorious sun,22
Rising above his hills, and lighting up23
His woods and pastures with a joyous beam,24
To him was grandeur ; not the reposing sound25
Of tinkling flocks cropping the tender shoots26
To him was music ; not the blossomy breeze27
That slumbers in the honey-dropping bean-flower28
To him was fragrance : he went plodding on29
His long-accustomed path ; and when his cares30
Of daily duties were o’erpass’d, he ate,31
And laugh’d, and slept, with a most drowsy mind.32
Dweller in cities, scorn’st thou the shepherd boy,33
Who never look’d within to find the eye34
For Nature’s glories ?  Oh, his slumbering spirit35
Struggled to pierce the fogs and deepening mists36
Of rustic ignorance ; but he was bound37
With a harsh galling chain, and so he went38
Grovelling along his dim instinctive way.39
Yet thou hadst other hopes and other thoughts ;40
But the world spoil’d thee : then the mutable clouds,41
And doming skies, and glory-shedding sun,42
And tranquil stars that hung above thy head43
Like angels gazing on thy crowded path,44
To thee were worthless, and thy soul forsook45
The love of beauteous fields, and the blest lore46
That man may read in Nature’s book of truth.47
Despise not, then, the lazy shepherd boy48
For his account and thine shall be made up,49
And evil cherish’d and occasion lost50
May cast their load upon thee, while his spirit51
May bud and bloom in a more sunny sphere.52