1819 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Leigh Hunt

Beppo, "Pleasant Walks; a Cockney Pastoral, in the Manner of Leigh Hunt" Literary Journal and General Miscellany 2 (20 March 1819) 191.



'Tis well I see the beautiful of things,
Else, K—, there thousands are who wouldn't see
Scarce any thing, in this most stupid age,
Worth calling poetry.
Aye, and it's well, too, I do not engage
To any niceties of measure in my rhyme,
Because, such beautiful thoughts as I,
At times, let fly,
Would, were they confin'd,
Before and behind
By your silky Pope-like tethers, be,
Like over-fondled children — ill, and rickety.
You know, K. I sometimes use your little lines
That drop,
In this short manner, like a rotten prop
From under a bunch of streaky woodbines,
Letting the whole beautiful superstructure
Of my flowers poetical,
Whate'er I cull,
Fall smack adown upon the muddy ground,
Scattering, all o'er every where around,
Their perfumes into air!
Wonder ye? — poo! now none of your scurvy jokes—
I cannot bear to do like other folks,
What! waste my time in measuring and rules?
Let Byron, Scott, and Campbell — precious fools!
Be, to such things, mere mercenary tools.
'Tis well for them to trim old-maidish wings,
But I can see — "the beautiful of things."

Listen, (if Nature's loveliness ought bind ye)
Whom kindred wonderlings have brought behind me,
And I will map ye out some pleasant walks,
O'er furrowy lands, and green grass banks,
Where Nature hath dropt her wild, unpolish'd showers,
And brought up heaps of wild, unpolish'd flowers,
And unfurl'd
The glorious forest world.
How nice it is to stray all among brooks,
In dark green nooks,
That, hid in their drowsy windings, snore,
In their stuff'd up, rushy, weedy beds,
Dreamingly: how sweet to see
The glib eel, nibbling hastily
The newly-caught worm, held by her neck fast,
Making his summer breakfast:
Or hear the hoarse frog,
In the reedy bog,
Singing the poor worm's elegy.
How sweet to stroll up chequer'd lanes and highways,
(Provided they are bye-ways)
To feel the soft come-o'er-ye-breeze, that dreads,
As 'twere, to touch your hatty heads,
Lest it should ruffle your curly locks,
And fling your beavers
Into the unaccommodating, saucy rivers;—
A sweet breeze, that won't set you in the stocks
Of coughy colds, and stiff-limb'd catarrhs,
And such-like stay-at-home wars,
As we, in playing life's poor game at loo,
Are subject to!

And, O! to ramble all about some heath—
A lonely one — (and not
One like Hampstead's up-and-down pathy spot)
To take, as 'twere a pill, a breath
Of nutmeg-smelling air, cutting, like a knife,
From off our lungs the city's filthy soot,
And smoke to boot;
So as to bless,
And raise to liveliness,
With freshening draughts, the nauseous cup of life;
Especially where the sun-toasted gypsies,
Hang out, all over the branched trees,
Their sunny draperies.
Because, in our ramblings, we
Like good company.
Like you this plumage of my muse's wings?
Ah! I can see the "beautiful of things."
Do you not like where a dark wood covers,
With her leafy hood all things, and hovers
About some up-hill and down-dale track,
(The sun in your face, and the wind in your back,)
To go, and see the industrious pig root up
The buried acorn, where the oaks shoot up,
Making itself "green head-dresses,"
And "leafy wildernesses,"
Lovely dryad! — and the "young-eyed" lambs
That walk by their dams,
With their milk-white dresses,
And their light prettinesses,
And feet that go skipitty-skip!
And the sage cow,
That munches the drooping newly-clad bough,
Hanging its fresh'ning leaves o'er her head
And her back's glossy red;
O! these are objects for Castalian springs!
But I, you know, can see "the beautiful of things!"
Stop! — there's something of the gypsies, O dear,
I forgot to mention: I'll do it here.
Like not ye to sit with them and chat,
And all that,
(Beneath the over-hanging bunchy leaves,)
With that enlighten'd, independent few?
I love it, K—, and so, I think, do you;
For theirs, look ye,
Whom kindred fancies have brought after me,
Is, like the quiv'ring blown-off leaves
On which they tread, real unpoluted liberty,
That never grieves!
And love ye not to walk where flings
Some old wind-mill her muttering flys about?
Or, like ye, where some white-wash'd farms peep out,
To hear the clapping of the old hens' wings,
Where the quick wind, round the hay-stack, sings
A delicious tune,
In the month of June,
When the sun peeps out,
And spreads all about
The cornfields' yellow dress,
His yellower loveliness?
And, O! to hear the rural ding-a-dings,
Where the sweet little old village church up springs,
Its dumpy spire, becrown'd
With tall trees, and ivy-bound!—
Don't, don't I paint the — "beautiful of things?"