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ODE TO DUTY.

219

ODE TO DUTY.- Wordsworth.

STERN daughter of the voice of God!
O Duty! if that name thou love,
Who art a light to guide, a rod
To check the erring, and reprove ;
Thou, who art victory and law
When empty terrors overawe,
From vain temptations dost set free,
And calm'st the weary strife of frail humanity!

There are who ask not if thine eye
Be on them; who, in love and truth,
Where no misgiving is, rely
Upon the genial sense of youth ;
Glad hearts ! without reproach or blot;
Who do thy work and know it not;
Long may the kindly impulse last!
But thou, if they should totter, teach them to stand

fast!

Serene will be our days and bright,
And happy will our nature be,
When love is an unerring light,
And joy its own security.
And they a blissful course may hold
Even now, who, not unwisely bold,
Live in the spirit of this creed ;
Yet find that other strength, according to their

need.

I, loving freedom, and untried,
No sport of every random gust,
Yet being to myself a guide,
Too blindly have reposed my trust;

And oft, when in my heart was heard
Thy timely mandate, I deferred
The task in smoother walks to stray ;
But thee I now would serve more strictly, if I may.

Through no disturbance of my soul,
Or strong compunction in me wrought,
I supplicate for thy control;
But in the quietness of thought:
Me this unchartered freedom tires;
I feel the weight of chance desires :
My hopes no more must change their name,
I long for a repose that ever is the same.

Stern Lawgiver! yet thou dost wear
The Godhead's most benignant grace ;
Nor know we any thing so fair
As is the smile upon thy face;
Flowers laugh before thee on their beds;
And Fragrance in thy footing treads ;
Thou dost preserve the stars from wrong;
And the most ancient heavens, through thee, are

fresh and strong.

To humbler functions, awful Power!
I call thee; I myself commend
Unto thy guidance from this hour;
O, let my weakness have an end !
Give unto me, made lowly, wise,
The spirit of self-sacrifice;
The confidence of reason give;
And in the light of truth thy bondman let me

live !

DEATH'S FINAL CONQUEST.

221

FAMILIAR LOVE. — Milnes.

We read together, reading the same book,
Our heads bent forward in a half embrace,
So that each shade that either spirit took
Was straight reflected in the other's face;
We read, not silent, nor aloud, but each
Followed the eye that passed the page along,
With a low murmuring sound, that was not speech,

Yet with so much monotony
In its half slumbering harmony,
You might not call it song ;

More like a bee, that in the noon rejoices,
Than any customed mood of human voices.
Then if some wayward or disputed sense
Made cease awhile that music, and brought on
A strife of gracious-worded difference,
Too light to hurt our souls' dear unison,
We had experience of a blissful state,
In which our powers of thought stood separate,
Each, in its own high freedom, set apart,
But both close folded in one loving heart;
So that we seemed, without conceit, to be
Both one and two in our identity.

DEATH'S FINAL CONQUEST. - Shirley.

The glories of our birth and state

Are shadows, not substantial things;
There is no armor against fate;

Death lays his icy hand on kings.

Sceptre and crown

Must tumble down,
And in the dust be equal made
With the poor, crooked scythe and spade.
Some men with swords may reap the field,

And plant fresh laurels where they kill ;
But their strong nerves at last must yield;
They tame but one another still :

Early or late

They stoop to fate,
And must give up their murmuring breath,
When they pale captives creep to death.
The garlands wither on your brow;

Then boast no more your mighty deeds ;
Upon Death's purple altar now
See where the victor victim bleeds;

All hands must come

To the cold tomb,
Only the actions of the just
Smell sweet and blossom in the dust.

THE WIDOW TO HER HOUR-GLASS. — Bloomfield.

COME, friend, I 'll turn them up again ;
Companion of the lonely hour!
Spring thirty times hath fed with rain
And clothed with leaves my humble bower,

Since thou hast stood,

In frame of wood,
On chest or window by my side ;
At every birth still thou wert near,
Still spoke thine admonitions clear, -

And when my husband died.

THE WIDOW TO HER HOUR-GLASS.

223

I've often watched thy streaming sand
And seen the growing mountain rise,
And often found life's hopes to stand
On props as weak in Wisdom's eyes;

Its conic crown

Still sliding down,'
Again heaped-up, then down again ;
The sand above more hollow grew,
Like days and years still filtering through,

And mingling joy and pain.

While thus I spin and sometimes sing
(For now and then my heart will glow),
Thou measur'st Time's expanding wing ;
By thee the noontide hour I know;

Though silent thou,

Still shalt thou flow,
And jog along thy destined way ;
But when I glean the sultry fields,
When earth her yellow harvest yields,

Thou gett'st a holiday.

Steady as truth, on either end
Thy daily task performing well,
Thou 'rt meditation's constant friend,
And strik'st the heart without a bell:

Come, lovely May !

Thy lengthened day
Shall gild once more my native plain;
Curl inward here, sweet woodbine-flower ;-
Companion of the lonely hour,

I 'll turn thee up again.

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