Page images
[graphic][ocr errors]



I HE Curfew tolls the knell of parting day,

The lowing herd wind slowly o'er the lea, *The plowman homeward plods his weary way,

And leaves the world to darkness and to me.

Now fades the glimmering landscape on the siglit,

And all the air a solemn stillness holds,
Save where the beetle wheels his droning fight,

And drowsy tinklings lil the distant foids;

Save that from yorder ivy-mantled tower,

The noping owl does to the moon complain Of such, as wandering near her secret bower,

Mulest her ancient solitary

Beneath those rugged elms, that yew-tree's shade,

Wrere heaves the turf in many a mouldering heap, Each in iis narrow cell for ever laid,

the rule furefuchers of the hainlet sleep.

The breezy call of incense-breathing Morn,

The swallow twittering from the straw-built shed, The cock's shrill clarion, or the echoing horn, · No more shall rouse them from their lowly bed.

For them no more the blazing hearth shall burn,

Or busy housewife ply her evening-care; No children run to lisp their sire's return,

Or climb his knees the envied kiss to share.

Oft did the harvest to their sickle yield,

Their furrow oft the stubborn glebe has broke: How jocund did they drive their team afield!

How bow'd the woods beneath their sturdy stroke!

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Let not Ambition mock their useful toil,

Their homely joys, and destiny obscure; Nor grandeur hear, with a disdainful smile,

The short and simple annals of the poor..

The boast of heraldy, the pomp of power,

And all, all that wealth e'er gave, Await alike th' inevitable hour :

I he paths of glory lead but to the grave.

Nor you, ye proud, impute to these the fault,

lf Memory e'er their tomb no trophies raise, Where thro’ the long-drawn aisle and fretted vault, The pealing anthem swells the note of praise.

• B 2

Can storied urn or animated bust,

Back to its mansion call the fleeting breath? Can Honour's voice provoke the silent dust,

Or flattery sooth the duli cold ear of Death?

Perhaps in this neglected spot is laid

Some heart once pregnant with celestial fire; Hands that the rod of cipire might have sway'd,

Or wak’d to ecstacy the living lyre.

• But Knowledge to their eyes her ample page

Rich with the spoils of Time did ne'er unroll; Chill Penury repress'd their noble rage,

And froze the genial current of the soul.

Fuh many a gem of purest ray serene,

The dark unfathom'd caves of Ocean bear; Full many a flower is born to blush unseen,

And waste its sweetness in the desert air.

Some vilage-Hampden, that with dauntless breast,

The little tyrant of his fields withstood, Some mute inglorious Milton here may rest,

Some Cromwell guiltless of his country's blood.

The applause of list’ning senates to command,

The threats of pain and ruin to despise, To scaiter plenty o'er á smiling land,

And read their hist'ry in a nation's eyes,

Their lot forbad; nor circumscrib'd alone 6***

Their growing virtues, but their crimes confin'd; Forbad to wade thro' slaughter to a throne, .

And shut the gates of mercy on rankind;

1. The struggling pangs of conscious Truth to hide,

To quench the blushes of ingenuous Shame, Or heap the shrine of Luxury and Pride

With incense kindled at the Muse's flame,

Far from the madding crowd's ignoble strife,

Their sober wishes never learn’d to stray; Along the cool sequester'd vale of life

They kept the noiseless tenor of their way.

Yet o'en these bones, from insult to protect,

Some frail memorial still erected nigh, With uncouth rhymes and shapeless sculpture deck'd, • Implores the passing tribute of a sigh,

Their name, their years, spelt by th' unletter'd Muse,

The place of fame, and elegy supply; - And many a holy text around she strews,

That teach the rustic moralist to die,

For who, to dumb forgetfulness a prey,

This pleasing anxious being e'er resign'd, Left the warm precincts of the cheerful day, 1 Nor cast one longing ling'ring look behind?

B 3

On some fond breast the parting soul relies,

Some pious drops the closing eye requires; Een from the tomb the voice of Nature cries,

E'en in our ashes live their wonted fires.

[ocr errors]

For thee, who mindful of th' unhonour'd Dead,

Dost in these lines their artless tale relate; If chance, by lonely Contemplation led,

Some kindred spirit shall inquire thy fate,

Haply some hoary. headed swain may say,

Oft have we seen him at the peep of dawn, • Brushing with hasty steps the dews away,

• To meet the sun upon the upland lawn.

“There at the foot of yonder nodding beeclı,

“That wreathes its old fantastic roots so high, •His listless length at noon-tide would he stretch,

And pore upon the brook that babbles by.

• Hard by yon wood, now smiling as in scorn,

• Mutt'ring his wayward fancies, he would rove; • Now drooping, woeful wan! like one forlorn, · Or craz'd with care, or cross'd in hopeless love

•One morn I miss'd him on the custom'd hill

•Along the heath and near his favourite tree; *Another came; nor yet beside the rill,

Nor up the lawn, nor at the wood was he:

« PreviousContinue »