Tuesday, April 23, 2013


Cherish the Weeds

Richard Payne Knight (1751-1824), The Landscape, II.186-199:
But here again, ye rural nymphs, oppose
Nature's and Art's confederated foes!
Break their fell scythes, that would these beauties shave,
And sink their iron rollers in the wave!
Your favourite plants, and native haunts protect,      190
In wild obscurity, and rude neglect;
Or teach proud man his labour to employ
To form and decorate, and not destroy;
Teach him to place, and not remove the stone
On yonder bank, with moss and fern o'ergrown;      195
To cherish, not mow down, the weeds that creep
Along the shore, or overhang the steep;
To break, not level, the slow-rising ground,
And guard, not cut, the fern that shades it round.
On "iron rollers" (line 189), see Oxford English Dictionary, s.v. roller, n.1, sense 4.a: "A heavy cylinder of wood, stone, or (now usually) metal, fitted in a frame with shafts or a handle, used for flattening and smoothing the ground, crushing clods of earth, etc."

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