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One died on the black-draped scaffold,
One broke on old age's wheel:
O sweet heaven, the pity!
Felt the thorns in the rim of the crown
Was the Stuart of Scotland plotting
Was it hatred in crown or in person
Drove the Tudor to work her fall?
Was there guilty marriage with Bothwell And black crime at the Kirk of Field? And what meed had the smothered passion That for Essex stood half revealed?
Dark questions! - and who shall solve them? Not one, till the great assize,
When royal secrets and motives
Shall be opened to commonest eyes;
Not even by bookworm students,
Who shall dig and cavil and grope, And keep to the ear learned promise, While they break it to the hope!
Ah, well, there is one sad lesson
And that equally blessed and cursed.
With the Scottish walked fierce-eyed Passion,
And the paths were the paths of ruin,
And each, when she died, might have shuddered
To know she had failed to find
A content, even poorly perfect,
As that blessing some landless hind!
Ah, well, again, they are sleeping
That the eyes, to judge them at last,
WORLD, what have your poets while they live
But sorrow and the finger of the scorner? And, dead, the highest honor you can give Is burial in a corner.
Not so, my poets of the popular school
Disprove that mean, yet prevalent conception.
And so, good World, the poet still remains
Here in Westminster's sanctuary, where
Some two-three kings usurp one half the Abbey, Whole generations of the poets share
This nook so dim and shabby.
So when we come to see Westminster's lions,
Some in corporeal presence crowd the nook,
White-bearded Chaucer's here, an honored guest,
Here's Michael Drayton in his laurelled tomb,
Spenser is here from faerie land, his eyne
Filled with the glamour of some dreamy notion,
Here's Prior, who was popular no doubt;
And Guy, with face and cowl round as a saucer; And Dryden, who, some think, should be put out Because he murdered Chaucer.
And Milton, after all his civil shocks,
Is here with look of sweet, yet strong decision, John Milton, with the soft poetic locks
And supernatural vision.
Beaumont of the firm of B. and F. is here;
Gray, of the famous Elegy, who found
His churchyard in the country rather lonely, Lies with the rest in this more classic ground, Although in spirit only.
And Goldsmith at the Temple leaves his bones,
And here is he that wrote the Seasons four;
And Southey, who for bread wrote many a tome,
Of prose and verse a progeny plethoric,
Campbell is here in body as in soul,
He for a national song eclipsed by no land; And in whose grave the patriotic Pole Sprinkled the earth of Poland.
Of other famous names we find the trace,
Now most upon their own true genius stand;
From Chaucer down to Thackeray.
THE TOMB OF ADDISON.
YAN I forget the dismal night that gave
My soul's best part forever to the grave?
How silent did his old companions tread,
By midnight lamps, the mansions of the dead, Through breathing statues, then unheeded things, Through rows of warriors and through walks of kings!
What awe did the slow solemn knell inspire,
The pealing organ and the pausing choir,