Comfort of the Fields

Original Text: 
The Poems of Archibald Lampman, ed. Duncan Campbell Scott (Toronto: George N. Morang, 1900): 148-50, as reprinted in The Poems of Archibald Lampman (including At the Long Sault), intro. by Margaret Cou of Toronto Press, 1974), and from Lyrics of Earth (Boston: Copeland and Day, 1895).
1What would'st thou have for easement after grief,
2    When the rude world hath used thee with despite,
3    And care sits at thine elbow day and night,
4Filching thy pleasures like a subtle thief?
5To me, when life besets me in such wise,
6'Tis sweetest to break forth, to drop the chain,
7    And grasp the freedom of this pleasant earth,
8        To roam in idleness and sober mirth,
9Through summer airs and summer lands, and drain
10The comfort of wide fields unto tired eyes.
11By hills and waters, farms and solitudes,
12    To wander by the day with wilful feet;
13    Through fielded valleys wide with yellowing wheat;
14Along gray roads that run between deep woods,
15Murmurous and cool; through hallowed slopes of pine,
16    Where the long daylight dreams, unpierced, unstirred,
17    And only the rich-throated thrush is heard;
18By lonely forest brooks that froth and shine
19    In bouldered crannies buried in the hills;
20By broken beeches tangled with wild vine,
21    And long-strewn rivers murmurous with mills.
22In upland pastures, sown with gold, and sweet
23    With the keen perfume of the ripening grass,
24    Where wings of birds and filmy shadows pass,
25Spread thick as stars with shining marguerite:
26To haunt old fences overgrown with brier,
27    Muffled in vines, and hawthorns, and wild cherries,
28    Rank poisonous ivies, red-bunched elder-berries,
29And pièd blossoms to the heart's desire,
31    Pink-tasseled milkweed, breathing dense perfume,
32And swarthy vervain, tipped with violet fire.
33To hear at eve the bleating of far flocks,
34    The mud-hen's whistle from the marsh at morn;
35    To skirt with deafened ears and brain o'erborne
36Some foam-filled rapid charging down its rocks
37With iron roar of waters; far away
38    Across wide-reeded meres, pensive with noon,
39    To hear the querulous outcry of the loon;
40To lie among deep rocks, and watch all day
41    On liquid heights the snowy clouds melt by;
42Or hear from wood-capped mountain-brows the jay
43    Pierce the bright morning with his jibing cry.
44To feast on summer sounds; the jolted wains,
45    The thresher humming from the farm near by,
46    The prattling cricket's intermittent cry,
47The locust's rattle from the sultry lanes;
48Or in the shadow of some oaken spray,
49    To watch, as through a mist of light and dreams,
50    The far-off hayfields, where the dusty teams
51Drive round and round the lessening squares of hay,
52    And hear upon the wind, now loud, now low,
53With drowsy cadence half a summer's day,
54    The clatter of the reapers come and go.
55Far violet hills, horizons filmed with showers,
56    The murmur of cool streams, the forest's gloom,
57    The voices of the breathing grass, the hum
58Of ancient gardens overbanked with flowers:
59Thus, with a smile as golden as the dawn,
60    And cool fair fingers radiantly divine,
61    The mighty mother brings us in her hand,
62For all tired eyes and foreheads pinched and wan,
63Her restful cup, her beaker of bright wine:
64    Drink, and be filled, and ye shall understand!


30] mullein: woolly-leaved plant of the figwort family. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
RPO 1997.