« PreviousContinue »
Oft did the harvest to their fickle 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!
Let not Ambition mock their useful toil,
Their homely joys, and destiny obscurę ;
Nor Grandeur hear, with a disdainful smile,
The short and simple annals of the poor.
The boast of heraldry, the pomp of pow'r,
And all that beauty, all that wealth e'er gave,
Await alike th' inevitable hour.
The paths of glory lead but to the grave,
Nor you, ye Proud, impute to These the fault,
If Mem’ry o’er their Tomb no Trophies raise,
Where through the long-drawn ise and fretted vault
The pealing anthem fwells the note of praife.
Can storied urn or animated buft
Back to its manfion call the fleeting breath?
Can Honour's voice provoke the filent duft,
Or Flatt'ry footh the dull cold ear of Death?
Perhaps in this neglected spot is laid
Some heart once pregnant with celestial fire;
Hands, that the rod of empire might have sway'd,
Or wak'd to extasy the living lyre.
But Knowledge to their eyes her ample page
Rich with the spoils of Time did ng'er unroll;
Chill Penury repress’d their noble rage,
And froze the genial current of the soul.
Full many a gem of purest ray serene,
The dark unfathom'd caves of ocean bear ;
Full many a flower is barn to blush unseen, -
And waste its. sweetness on the desart air.
Some village-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.
Th’applause of lift’ning senates to command,
The threats of pain and ruin to despise,
To scatter plenty o'er a smiling land,
And read their histry in a nation's eyes
Their lot forbad: nor circumscrib'd alone
Their growing virtues, but their crimes confind;
Forbad to wade through slaughter to a throne,
And shut the gates of mercy on mankind,
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 ev'n these bones from insult to protect
Some frail memorial still erected nigh,
With uncouth rhimes and shapeless sculpture deck's,
Implores the passing tribute of a sigh.
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 dye.
For who to dumb Forgetfulness a prey,
This pleasing anxious being e'er resign'd,
Left the warm precincts of the chearful day,
Nor cast one longing ling'ring look behind ?
On some fond breast the parting soul relies,
Some pious drops the closing eye requires ;
Ey'n from the tomb the voice of Nature cries,
Ev'n in our Ashes live their wonted Fires.
For thee, who mindful of th' unhonourd 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 (wain may fay,
• Oft have we seen him at the peep of dawn
Brushing with hafty Ateps the dews away ‘To meet the sun upon the upland lawn.
'There at the foot of yonder nodding beech
- That rears its old fantastic roots fo high,
* His liftlefs 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 wán, like one forlorn,
Or craz’d with care, or crossd in hopeless love.
* One morn I miss’d him on the custom'd hill,
Along the heath and near his fav'rite tree: ' Another came, nor yet beside the rill, • Nor
up the lawn, nor at the wood was he;
'The next with dirges due in fad array, * Slow through the church-way path we saw him born, * Approach and read (for thou canst read) the lay, Grav'd on the stone beneath yon aged thorn.
ER E refts his head upon the lap of Earth,
A Youth to Fortune and to Fame unknown, Fair Science frown'd not on his bumble birth, And Melancholy mark'd him for ber own.