Jane Taylor

(23 September 1783 – 13 April 1824 / Colchester, England)

A Town


A BUSY town mid Britain's isle,
Behold in fancy's eye ;
With tower, and spire, and civic pile,
Beneath a summer sky :

And orchard, garden, field, and park,
And grove, and sunny wall ;
And ranging buildings, light and dark,
As evening shadows fall.

Then listen to the ceaseless din
Of hammer, saw, and crane ;
And traffic passing out and in,
From alley, street, and lane.

The sound, without a pause between,
Of foot, and wheel, and hoof ;
The manufacture's loud machine
From yonder lengthened roof.

And children at their evening sports,
Parading to and fro ;
Assembled in the quiet courts
Of yonder cottage row.

Gay streets display their shining wares
To every roving eye,
As eager in their own affairs,
The busy tribes go by.

And ah ! what varied forms of woe,
What hope and fear are found ;
What passions rise, what scandals grow,
Within this narrow bound !

To pass the peaceful dwellings by,
No stranger eye might guess
Those scenes of joy and agony,
Of discord and distress.

Pain writhes within those stately walls ;
Here pallid want hath been ;
That casement where the curtain falls
Shows death has entered in.

The dwelling ranging next to this,
A youthful group displays ;
Elate they seem with present bliss,
And hope of distant days.

There at her chamber-window high,
A lonely maiden sits ;
Its casement fronts the western sky
And balmy air admits :

And while her thoughts have wandered far
From all she hears and sees,
She gazes on the evening star
That twinkles through the trees.

Is it to watch the setting sun
She does that seat prefer ?--
Alas ! the maiden thinks of one
Who never thinks of her.

But lively is the street below,
And ceaseless is the hum,
As some intent on pleasure go,
On schemes of profit some.

Now widening seems the stream to be,
As evening stretches o'er ;
Plebeian tribes from toil set free
Pour forth from every door.

A school, arranged in order due,
(Before the sun goes down)
Lady and lady, two and two,
Comes winding through the town.

And what drives up to yonder door
The gaping crowd among ?
A wedding train of chaises four,
And all the bells are rung.

The laden waggon tinkles by,
The post is going out,
The lights are lit, the coaches ply
To tavern, ball, and rout.

Thus closed that merry summer's day ;
And would you ask me how
You might the busy scene survey,
And see those faces now ?--

Then hither turn--yon waving grass
And mouldering stones will show ;
For these transactions came to pass
A hundred years ago.

Submitted: Thursday, April 08, 2010

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