Bloomfield, Robert

Britain, (1766-1823)

The Farmer’s Boy, Autum

(an excerpt)

  1. No more the fields with scattered grain supply
  2. The restless wandering tenants of the STY;
  3. From oak to oak they rim with eager haste,
  4. And wrangling share the first delicious taste
  5. Of fallen ACORNS; yet but thinly found
  6. Till the strong gale has shook them to the ground.
  7. It comes; and the roaring woods obedient wave:
  8. Their home well-pleased the joint adventurers leave:
  9. The trudging sow leads forth her numerous young,
  10. Playful, and white, and clean, the briars among,
  11. Till briars and thorns increasing, fence them round,
  12. Where last year’s mouldering leaves bestrew the ground,
  13. And o’er their heads, loud lash’d by furious squalls,
  14. Bright from theft cups the rattling treasure falls;
  15. Hot, thirsty food; whence doubly sweet and cool
  16. The welcome margin of some rush-grown pool.
  17. The Wild Duck’s lovely haunt, whose jealous eye
  18. Guards every point; who sits, prepar’d to fly
  19. On the calm bosom of her little lake,
  20. Too closely screen’d for ruffian winds to shake;
  21. And as the bold intruders press around
  22. At once she starts, and rises with a bound:
  23. With bristles rais’d the sudden noise they hear,
  24. And ludicrously wild, and wing’d with fear,
  25. The herd decamp with more than swinish speed,
  26. And snorting dash through sedge, and rush, and reed:
  27. Through tangling thickets on and on they go
  28. Then stop and listen for their fancied foe;
  29. The hindmost still the growing panic spreads,
  30. Repeated flight the first alarm succeeds
  31. Till Folly’s wages, wounds and thorns, they reap:
  32. Yet glorying in their fortunate escape
  33. Their groundless terrors by degrees soon cease,
  34. And Night’s dark reign restores their wonted peace.
  35. For now the gale subsides, and from each bough
  36. The roosting Pheasant’s short but frequent crow
  37. Invites to rest, and huddling side by side,
  38. The herd in closest ambush seek to hide;
  39. Seek some warm slope with shagged moss o’erspread
  40. Dry’d leaves their copious covering and their bed,
  41. In vain may Giles, through gathering glooms that fall
  42. And solemn silence, urge his piercing call:
  43. Whole days and nights they tarry midst their store
  44. Nor quit the woods, till oaks can yield no more.

The Farmer’s Boy: A Rural Poem. London: Vernor and Hood, 1800.

About the Poet

Robert Bloomfield (1766-1823), English poet, worked as a farm laborer and then as a shoemaker in London, enduring extreme poverty and often unable to afford the paper on which to write. His fame principally rests as author of ‘The Farmer’s Boy’ a work of some 1,500 lines of rhyming couplets which related the life of Giles, an orphan farm laborer, throughout the seasons.

A vogue for tales of rustic life when ‘The Farmer’s Boy’ was published led to the immense sale of 26,000 copies in under three years, and translations into Italian and French. Bloomfield wrote various other tales in verse between 1802 and 1811, but died in poverty. [DES-6/03]

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