Inscription On A Rural Arbour

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In 1791, a reader of Madras Courier had enough of noisy tourists entering his garden. He wrote this poem in protest.

Heedless wanderer, come not here
with clamorous voice, or footstep rude,
For Harmony’s sweet sake forbear
To violate this solitude.

For ne’er the nightingale forsakes
This haunt when hawthorn blossoms spring;
Veil’d in the shade of tangled brakes,
She calls her nestlings forth to sing.

Hark! catch you not their warbling wild,
That softly flow the leaves among?
Now loudly shrill, now sweetly mild.
The descant of their thrilling song.

The earliest primrose of the year
Beneath delights its flowers to spread;
The clustering hare-bell lingers near
The cowslip’s dew-bespangled bed.

And whilst the western gales allay
The keenness of the noon-tide heat,
They tell where, pleas’d to shun the day,
The violet scents her low retreat.

See, sparkling with a tremulous gleam,
The rivulet meand’ring slows;
Whilst in the bosom of the stream
The painted lily quivering blows,

If tempted by the twilight shade
Beneath the smooth-leaf’d beech to lay,
Soon will the charms that dress the glade
Bring sweet oblivion of your way.

But heedless wanderer come not here,
This feast was not prepar’d for thee;
Unless thy heart feels nought more dear,
Than nature and simplicity.

***

Madras Courier originally ran as a broadsheet with a poetry section. It was a time when readers felt comfortable sharing glimpses of their lives through verse. If you too have a poem you’d like to submit, do mail us at editor@madrascourier.com.

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