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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 knee 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 pow's,
And all that beauty, and that wealth e'er gave, Await alike th'inevitable bour,
The paths of glory lead but to the grave.
Nor you, ye proud, impute to these the fault,
If meni’ry o'er their tomb no trophies raise, Where through the long-drawn aisle and fretted vault
The pealing anthem swells the note of praise.
Can storied urn or animated bust
Back to its mansion call the fleeting breath? Can Honour's voice provoke the silent dust,
Or Flatt’ry sootb 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 in the desert air.
Some village Hampden, that, with dauntless brenst,
The little tyrant of the fields withstood; Some mute inglorious Milton here may rest,
Some Cromwell, guiltless of his country's blood.
Th’applause of list’ning senates to command,
The threats of pain and ruin to despise, To scatter plenty o'er a smiling land,
And read their bist’ry in a nation's eyes.
Their lot forbade; nor 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 madding crowd's ignoble strife,
Their sober wishes never learn’d to stray; Along the cool sequester'd vale of life
They keep 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 moralist to die.
For wbo, 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 fires.
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 enquire 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 wreaths 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, woeful 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 favourite 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 church-way path we saw him borne. Approach, and read (for thou canst read) the lay
Grav'd on the stone beneath yon aged thorn."
Here rests his head upon the lap of Earth,
A Youth to Fortune and to Fame unknown: Fair science frown'd not on his humble birth,
And Melancholy mark'd him for her own.
Large was his bounty, and his soul sincere,
Heaven did a recompence as largely send: He gave to Misery all he had, a tear;
He gain'd from Heav'n, '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.