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Their lot forbade: nor circumscribed alone
Their growing virtues, but their crimes confined; Forbade to wade through slaughter to a throne, And shut the gates of mercy on mankind:
The struggling pangs of conscious truth to hide,
With incense kindled at the muse's flame.
Far from the maddening crowd's ignoble strife,
They kept the noiseless tenor of their way.
Yet even these bones from insult to protect,
Their name, their years spelt by th' unlettered Muse,
For who to dumb forgetfulness a prey,
This pleasing, anxious being e'er resigned, 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 ; Even from the tomb the voice of nature cries, Even in our ashes live their wonted fires.
For thee, who mindful of th' unhonoured dead,
Some kindred spirit shall enquire thy fate:
Haply some hoary-headed swain may say,
"Oft we have 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, Muttering his wayward fancies he would rove, Now drooping woful wan, like one forlorn,
Or craz'd with care, or crossed 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,
Slow through the church-way path we saw him borne, Approach and read, for thou canst read, the lay, Graved 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 frowned not on his humble birth, And melancholy marked him for her own.
Large was his bounty and his soul sincere,
Heaven did a recompense as largely send; He gave to misery, all he had, a tear;
He gain'd from heaven, 'twas all he wish'd a friend.
No farther seek his merits to disclose,
Nor draw his frailties from their dread abode, There they alike in trembling hope repose,
The bosom of his father and his God.
ODE ON A DISTANT PROSPECT OF ETON COLLEGE
Ye distant spires, ye antique towers,
Of grove, of lawn, of mead survey, Whose turf, whose shade, whose flowers among, Wanders the hoary Thames along His silver-winding way;
Ah, happy hills, ah pleasing shade,
Where once my careless childhood strayed,
I feel the gales that from ye blow
A momentary bliss bestow,
As waving fresh their gladsome wing, My weary soul they seem to soothe, And redolent of joy and youth,
To breathe a second spring.
Say, father Thames, for thou hast seen
The captive linnet which enthral ?
While some on earnest business bent,
Some bold adventurers disdain
And unknown regions dare descry;
And snatch a fearful joy.
Gay hope is their's by fancy fed,
And lively cheer, of vigour born; The thoughtless day, the easy night, The spirits pure, the slumbers light, That fly the approach of morn.