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ELEGY WRITTEN IN A COUNTRY CHURCHYARD.

83

The breezy call of incense-breathing morn,

The swallow twittering from the straw-built shed, The cock's shrill clarion, or the echoing horn,

No more shall rouse them from their lowly bed. 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 th' inevitable hour :

The paths of glory lead but to the grave. Nor you, ye proud ! impute to these the fault,

If Memory o'er their tomb no trophies raise, Where, through the long-drawn aisle and fretted vault,

The peeling 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 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 waked to ecstacy the living lyre.
But Knowledge to their eyes her ample page,

Rich with the spoils of time, did ne'er unrol;
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,

The threats of pain and ruin to despise, To scatter plenty o'er a smiling land,

And read their history in a nation's eyesTheir 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,

To quench the blushes of ingenuous shame, Or heap the shrine of luxury and pride

With incense kindled at the Muses' 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 kept the noiseless tenor of their way. Yet even 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’ unlettered Muse,

The place of fame and elegy supply; And many a holy text around she strews,

That teach the rustic moralist 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, lingering look behind?

ELEGY WRITTEN IN A COUNTRY CHURCHYARD.

85

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' 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 bave 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 root 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 crazed 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,

Slow through the churchway-path we saw him borne: Approach, and read (for thou canst read) the lay

Graved on the stone beneath yon aged thorn.”

THE EPITAPH.

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 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 gained from heaven ('twas all he wish'd) a friend. No further 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.

WILLIAM COLLINS.

Born A.D. 1720, died A.D. 1756.

Ode to Evening.
IF aught of oaten stop, of pastoral song,
May hope, O pensive Eve, to soothe thine ear,

Like thy own brawling springs,

Thy springs, and dying gales ;
O nymph reserved, while now the bright-hair'd sun
Sits in yon western tent, whose cloudy skirts,

With brede ethereal wove,

O'erhang his wavy bed :
Now air is hush'd, save where the weak-eyed bat,
With short shrill shriek, flits by on leathern wing,

Or where the beetle winds

His small but sullen horn,
As oft he rises 'midst the twilight path,
Against the pilgrim borne in heedless hum :

Now teach me, maid composed,

To breathe some soften'd strain,
Whose numbers, stealing through thy darkening vale,
May not unseemly with its stillness suit ;

As, musing slow, I hail
Thy genial, loved return !

ODE TO EVENING.

87

For when thy folding-star arising shews
His paly circlet at his warning lamp,

The fragrant Hours, and Elves
Who slept in buds the day,

And many a nymph who wreathes her brows with sedge,
And sheds the freshening dew, and, lovelier still,

The pensive pleasures sweet,
Prepare thy shadowy car;

Then let me rove some wild and heathy scene;
Or find some ruin, 'midst its dreary dells,

Whose walls more awful nod

By thy religious gleams.
Or if chill blustering winds, or driving rain,
Prevent my willing feet, be mine the hut

That, from the mountain's side,
Views wilds, and swelling floods,

And hamlets brown, and dim-discover'd spires,
And hears their simple bell, and marks o'er all

Thy dewy fingers draw
The gradual dusky veil.

While Spring shall pour his showers, as oft he wont,
And bathe thy breathing tresses, meekest Eve!

While Summer loves to sport
Beneath thy lingering light;

While sallow Autumn fills thy lap with leaves,
Or Winter, yelling through the troublous air,

Affrights thy shrinking train,
And rudely rends thy robes ;

So long, regardful of thy quiet rule,
Shall Fancy, Friendship, Science, smiling Peace,

Thy gentlest influence own,
And love thy favourite name!

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