The Poetical Works of Thomas Hood, by Thomas Hood

Rural Felicity.

Well, the country’s a pleasant place, sure enough, for people that’s country born,

And useful, no doubt, in a natural way, for growing our grass and our corn.

It was kindly meant of my cousin Giles, to write and invite me down,

Tho’ as yet all I’ve seen of a pastoral life only makes one more partial to town.

At first I thought I was really come down into all sorts of rural bliss,

For Porkington Place, with its cows and its pigs, and its poultry, looks not much amiss;

There’s something about a dairy farm, with its different kinds of live stock,

That puts one in mind of Paradise, and Adam and his innocent flock;

But somehow the good old Elysium fields have not been well handed down,

And as yet I have found no fields to prefer to dear Leicester Fields up in town.

To be sure it is pleasant to walk in the meads, and so I should like for miles,

If it wasn’t for clodpoles of carpenters that put up such crooked stiles;

For the bars jut out, and you must jut out, till you’re almost broken in two,

If you clamber you’re certain sure of a fall, and you stick if you try to creep through.

Of course, in the end, one learns how to climb without constant tumbles down,

But still as to walking so stylishly, it’s pleasanter done about town.

There’s a way, I know, to avoid the stiles, and that’s by a walk in a lane,

And I did find a very nice shady one, but I never dared go again;

For who should I meet but a rampaging bull, that wouldn’t be kept in the pound,

A trying to toss the whole world at once, by sticking his horns in the ground?

And that, by the bye, is another thing, that pulls rural pleasures down,

Ev’ry day in the country is cattle-day, and there’s only two up in town.

Then I’ve rose with the sun, to go brushing away at the first early pearly dew,

And to meet Aurory, or whatever’s her name, and I always got wetted through;

My shoes are like sops, and I caught a bad cold, and a nice draggle-tail to my gown,

That’s not the way that we bathe our feet, or wear our pearls, up in town!

As for picking flow’rs, I have tried at a hedge, sweet eglantine roses to snatch,

But, mercy on us! how nettles will sting, and how the long brambles do scratch;

Besides hitching my hat on a nasty thorn that tore all the bows from the crown,

One may walk long enough without hats branching off, or losing one’s bows about town.

But worse than that, in a long rural walk, suppose that it blows up for rain,

And all at once you discover yourself in a real St. Swithin’s Lane;

And while you’re running all ducked and drown’d, and pelted with sixpenny drops,

“Fine weather,” you hear the farmers say; “a nice growing show’r for the crops!”

But who’s to crop me another new hat, or grow me another new gown?

For you can’t take a shilling fare with a plough as you do with the hackneys in town.

Then my nevys too, they must drag me off to go with them gathering nuts,

And we always set out by the longest way and return by the shortest cuts.

Short cuts, indeed! But it’s nuts to them, to get a poor lustyish aunt

To scramble through gaps or jump over a ditch, when they’re morally certain she can’t —

For whenever I get in some awkward scrape, and it’s almost daily the case,

Tho’ they don’t laugh out, the mischievous brats, I see the hooray! in their face.

There’s the other day, for my sight is short, and I saw what was green beyond,

And thought it was all terry firmer and grass till I walked in the duckweed pond:

Or perhaps when I’ve pully-hauled up a bank they see me come launching down,

As none but a stout London female can do as is come a first time out of town.

Then how sweet, some say, on a mossy bank a verdurous seat to find,

But for my part I always found it a joy that brought a repentance behind;

For the juicy grass with its nasty green has stained a whole breadth of my gown —

And when gowns are dyed, I needn’t say, it’s much better done up in town.

As for country fare, the first morning I came I heard such a shrill piece of work!

And ever since — and it’s ten days ago — we’ve lived upon nothing but pork;

One Sunday except, and then I turn’d sick, a plague take all countrified cooks!

Why didn’t they tell me, before I had dined, they made pigeon pies of the rooks?

Then the gooseberry wine, tho’ it’s pleasant when up, it doesn’t agree when it’s down,

But it served me right like a gooseberry fool to look for champagne out of town!

To be sure cousin G. meant it all for the best when he started this pastoral plan,

And his wife is a worthy domestical soul and she teaches me all that she can,

Such as making of cheese, and curing of hams, but I’m sure that I never shall learn,

And I’ve fetched more back-ache than butter as yet by chumping away at the churn;

But in making hay, tho’ it’s tanning work, I found it more easy to make,

But it tries one’s legs, and no great relief when you’re tired to sit down on the rake.

I’d a country dance too at harvest home, with a regular country clown,

But, Lord! they don’t hug one round the waist and give one such smacks in town!

Then I’ve tried to make friends with the birds and the beasts, but they take to such curious rigs,

I’m always at odds with the turkey-cock, and I can’t even please the pigs.

The very hens pick holes in my hands when I grope for the new-laid eggs,

And the gander comes hissing out of the pond on purpose to flap at my legs.

I’ve been bump’d in a ditch by the cow without horns, and the old sow trampled me down,

The beasts are as vicious as any wild beasts — but they’re kept in cages in town!

Another thing is the nasty dogs — thro’ the village I hardly can stir

Since giving a bumpkin a pint of beer just to call off a barking cur;

And now you would swear all the dogs in the place were set on to hunt me down,

But neither the brutes nor the people I think are as civilly bred as in town.

Last night about twelve I was scared broad awake, and all in a tremble of fright,

But instead of a family murder it proved an owl that flies screeching at night.

Then there’s plenty of ricks and stacks all about, and I can’t help dreaming of Swing —

In short, I think that a plastoral life is not the most happiest thing;

For besides all the troubles I’ve mentioned before as endur’d for rurality’s sake,

I’ve been stung by the bees, and I’ve set among ants, and once — ugh! I trod on a snake!

And as to moskitoes they tortured me so, for I’ve got a particular skin,

I do think it’s the gnats coming out of the ponds that drives the poor suicides in!

And after all an’t there new-laid eggs to be had upon Holborn Hill?

And dairy-fed pork in Broad St. Giles’s, and fresh butter wherever you will?

And a covered cart that brings Cottage Bread quite rustical-like and brown?

So one isn’t so very uncountrified in the very heart of the town.

Howsomever my mind’s made up, and although I’m sure cousin Giles will be vext,

I mean to book me an inside place up to town upon Saturday next,

And if nothing happens, soon after ten, I shall be at the Old Bell and Crown,

And perhaps I may come to the country again, when London is all burnt down!

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/h/hood/thomas/poetical-works/poem142.html

Last updated Friday, March 7, 2014 at 20:51