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Thy form benign, oh, goddess! wear,
To soften, not to wound, my heart,
Exact my own defects to scan,
What others are, to feel, and know myself a man.
WRITTEN IN A COUNTRY CHURCH-YARD.
THE Curfew tolls the knell of parting day,
Now fades the glimmering landscape on the sight,
Save that, from yonder ivy-mantled tower,
The moping owl does to the Moon complain Of such as, wandering near her secret bower, Molest her ancient solitary reign.
Beneath those rugged elms, that yew-tree's shade, Where heaves the turf in many a mouldering heap, Each in his narrow cell for ever laid,
The rude forefathers of the hamlet sleep.
The breezy call of incense-breathing Morn,
For them no more the blazing hearth shall burn,
No children run to lisp their sire's return,
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,
The paths of glory lead but to the grave.
Nor you, ye proud, impute to these the fault,
Can storied urn or animated bust
Back to its mansion call the fleeting breath? Can Honour's voice provoke the silent dust,
Or Flattery soothe 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 ecstasy 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 listening senates to command,
And read their history in a nation's eyes,
Their lot forbad: nor circumscrib'd alone
Their growing virtues, but their crimes confin'd; 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,
They kept the noiseless tenour of their way.
Yet ev❜n these bones from insult to protect,
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,
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, lingering look behind?
On some fond breast the parting soul relies,
Some pious drops the closing eye requires; Ev'n from the tomb the voice of Nature cries, Ev'n in our ashes live their wonted fires.
For thee, who, mindful of th' unhonour'd dead,
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,
"Hard by yon wood, now smiling as in scorn,
Muttering 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 the 'custom'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 [borne. Slow through the church-way path we saw him Approach and read (for thou canst read) the lay,
Gray'd on the stone beneath yon aged thorn."
HERE rests his head upon the lap of Earth,
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 Heaven ('t was all he wish'd) a friend.