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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 a-field!
How bow'd the woods beneath their sturdy stroke!
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 heraldry, the pomp of power,
And all that beauty, all that wealth e'er gave, Await, alike, the inevitable hour;
The paths of glory lead-but to the grave.
Nor you, ye proud, impute to these a fault,
If mem'ry o’er their tomb no trophies raise,
The pealing anthem swells the note of praise.
Can story'd urn, or animated bust,
Back to its mansion call the fleeting breath? Can honour's voice provoke the silent dust,
Or flatt'ry sooth 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 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.
Full 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 on the desert 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 listning senates to command,
The threats of pain and ruin to despise, To scatter plenty o'er a smiling land,
And read their hist'ry in a nation's eyes,
Their lot forbade ; por circumscrib'd alone,
Their growing virtues, but their crimes confin'd; Forbade 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 madd’ning crowd's ignoble strife,
Their sober wishes never learn'd to strayAlong the cool sequester'd vale of life,
They kept the noiseless tenour of their way.
Yet e’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 moralists 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,
Nor cast one longing, ling’ring look behind ?
On some fond breast the parting soul relies;
Some pious drops the closing eye requires; E’en from the tomb the voice of nature cries,
E'en in our ashes live their wonted sires.
For thee, who mindful of the 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 beech,
That wreathes its old fantastic roots so high, His listless length at noontide 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, woful wan, like one forlorn,
Or craz'd with care, or cross'd in hopeless love.
One morn I miss’d him on th’accustom'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 sad array,
Slow through the churchway path we saw him borne, Approach and read (for thou canst read) the lay,
'Gravid on the stone beneath yon aged thorn.”
A youth to fortune and to fame unknown;
And melancholy mark'd him for her own.
Large was his bounty, and his soul sincere :
Heaven did a recompense as largely send. He gave to mis’ry all he had a tear;
He gain'd from heaven ('twas all he wish'd) a friend.
No farther seek his merits to disclose,
Or draw his frailties from their dread abode, (There they, alike, in trembling hope repose,)
The bosom of his Father and his God.