“ADDRESS TO EVENING. Written in June”
Modest Evening, come, O I breathe
Thy cool zephyrs o’er the heath,
On the craggy mountain’s brow,
Through the watery vale below,
And along the grassy mead, 5
Where the kine refuse to feed,
Moving slow towards the gate,
Where the blooming milk-maids wait:
Now, with breath more rudely cool,
Discompose the stagnant pool; 10
Where little insects circles make,
Dimpling soft the silent lake:
Now direct thy quickening breeze
Through the sable forest trees:
Then approach the river’s brink, 15
Where the cattle bending drink,
Where the painted vessel sails;
There dispense thy pleasant gales:
Westward, up the flow’ry lawn,
Where the sun his shade hath drawn, 20
Thither bending thy meek blast,
Soon he Aston’s Hillock past:
Where the cuckoo, lonely bird,
Ever with the Spring is heard:
O’er the village-steeple fly, 25
Turn the weather-cock on high,
Glitt’ring like thy fav’rite star,
To the Cestrian Hills afar:
Now descend upon the green,
Where the rustic youths are seen, 30
To toss the quoit, or pitch the bar,
Or battle in fictitious war;
While virgins twist the flowers that blow,
To bind the conquering hero’s brow.
Now as the Sun his journey ends, 35
And blazing to the Sea descends,
Swiftly o’er the dusky Sea,
Come–and breathe, sweet Eve, on me.
2 zephyrs “The West wind; poetically any calm soft wind” (Johnson).
3 craggy “Rugged; full of prominences; rough to walk on or climb” (Johnson).
6 kine “Plural of cow” (Johnson).
18 gales “A wind not tempestuous, yet stronger than a breeze” (Johnson).
22 Aston’s Hillock A reference to small hills near one of the several “Aston” villages in rural Cheshire, most likely either Aston juxta Mondrum or Aston-on Sutton.
26 weather-cock “An artificial cock set on the top of a spire, which by turning shows the point from which the wind blows” (Johnson).
28 Cestrian Hills “Of or pertaining to the city of Chester or to Cheshire” (OED).
31 toss the quoit “The sport or game of throwing rings of flattened iron, rope, rubber, etc.” (OED); pitch the bar “In various games: to throw or otherwise propel (an object) towards a mark, or so as to fall in or near a specified place” (OED).
Source: The Gentleman’s Magazine, vol. 61, part I (January 1791), p. 68.
Edited by Faith Cassidy Swanson