Invitation to Selborne

Gilbert White

SEE, Selborne spreads her boldest beauties round

The varied valley, and the mountain ground,

Wildly majestic! What is all the pride

Of flats, with loads of ornaments supplied?—

Unpleasing, tasteless, impotent expense,

Compared with Nature’s rude magnificence!

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Romantic spot! from whence in prospect lies

Whate’er of landscape charms our feasting eyes,—

The pointed spire, the hall, the pasture plain,

The russet fallow, or the golden grain,

The breezy lake that sheds a gleaming light,

Till all the fading picture fail the sight.

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Hark, while below the village bells ring round,

Echo, sweet nymph, returns the softened sound;

But if gusts rise, the rushing forests roar,

Like the tide tumbling on the pebbly shore.


  Adown the vale, in lone, sequestered nook,

Where skirting woods imbrown the dimpling brook,

The ruined convent lies: here wont to dwell

The lazy canon midst his cloistered cell,

While papal darkness brooded o’er the land,

Ere Reformation made her glorious stand;

Still oft at eve belated shepherd swains

See the cowled spectre skim the folded plains.

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  Now climb the steep, drop now your eye below

Where round the blooming village orchards grow;

There, like a picture, lies my lowly seat,

A rural, sheltered, unobserved retreat.

Me far above the rest Selbornian scenes,

The pendent forests and the mountain greens,

Strike with delight; there spreads the distant view,

That gradual fades till sunk in misty blue;

Here Nature hangs her slopy woods to sight,

Rills purl between and dart a quivering light.