Happy that first white age when we
Lived by the earth’s mere charity!
No soft luxurious diet then
Had effeminated men:
No other meat, nor wine, had any
Than the coarse mast, or simple honey;
And by the parents’ care laid up,
Cheap berries did the children sup.
No pompous wear was in those days,
Of gummy silks or scarlet blaize.
Their beds were on some flow’ry brink,
And clear spring—water was their drink.
The shady pine in the sun’s heat
Was their cool and known retreat,
For then 'twas not cut down, but stood
The youth and glory of the wood.
The daring sailor with his slaves
Then had not cut the swelling waves,
Nor for desire of foreign store
Seen any but his native shore.
Nor stirring drum scarred that age,
Nor the shrill trumpet’s active rage,
No wounds by bitter hatred made,
With warm blood soiled the shining blade;
For how could hostile madness arm
An age of love to public harm,
When common justice none withstood,
Nor sought rewards for spilling blood?
Oh that at length our age would raise
Into the temper of those days!
But —worse than Etna’s fires! —debate
And avarice inflame our state.
Alas! who was it that first found
Gold, hid of purpose under ground,
That sought out pearls, and dived to find
Such precious perils for mankind!