Rural Morning (excerpt)

[Image: Clare Leighton]

Soon as the twilight through the distant mist 
In silver hemmings skirts the purple east, 
Ere yet the sun unveils his smiles to view 
And dries the morning's chilly robes of dew, 
Young Hodge the horse-boy, with a soodly gait, 
Slow climbs the stile, or opes the creaky gate, 
With willow switch and halter by his side 
Prepared for Dobbin, whom he means to ride; 
The only tune he knows still whistling oer, 
And humming scraps his father sung before, 
As "Wantley Dragon," and the "Magic Rose," 
The whole of music that his village knows, 
Which wild remembrance, in each little town, 
From mouth to mouth through ages handles down. 
Onward he jolls, nor can the minstrel-throngs 
Entice him once to listen to their songs; 
Nor marks he once a blossom on his way; 
A senseless lump of animated clay— 

In hobbling speed he roams the pasture round,
Till hunted Dobbin and the rest are found;
Where some, from frequent meddlings of his whip,
Well know their foe, and often try to slip;
While Dobbin, tamed by age and labour, stands
To meet all trouble from his brutish hands,
And patient goes to gate or knowly brake,
The teasing burden of his foe to take;
Who, soon as mounted, with his switching weals,
Puts Dob's best swiftness in his heavy heels,
The toltering bustle of a blundering trot
Which whips and cudgels neer increased a jot,
Though better speed was urged by the clown--
And thus he snorts and jostles to the town.

The Village Minstrel, and Other Poems (2 volumes, 1821)

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