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Oft did the barvest to their sickle yield,
Their harrow oft the stubborn glebe has broke; How jocund did they drive their team a-field !
How bowed 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
And all that beauty, all that wealth e'er gave, Await alike the enevitable 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 pealing anthem swells the notes of praise. Can storied urn and 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;
Or waked to ecstacy the living lyre:
Rich with the spoils of time did ne'er unroll,
And froze the genial current of the soul.
Full many a gem, of purest ray serene,
The dark unfathomed 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. The applause of listening senates to command,
The threat of pain and ruin to despise, To scatter plenty o'er a smiling land,
And read their history in a nation's eyes, 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,
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 learnt to stray ; Along the cool sequestered 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 sculptures deckt,
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 resigned, Left the warm precincts of the cheerful clay,
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,
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, 67 Oft have we seen him at the
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 woeful wan, like one forlorn,
Or crazed with care, or crossed in hopeless love. “One morn I miss'd him on th'accustomed 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 gained from heaven, 'twas all he wished, 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.
“Ruin seize thee, ruthless king!
Helm, nor hauberk's' twisted mail,
On a rock, whose haughty brow
The hauberk was a texture of steel ringlets, or rings interwoven, forming a coat of mail, that sat close to the body, and adapted itself to every motion.
2 Gilbert de Clare, surnamed the Red, Earl of Gloucester and Hertford, son-inlaw to King Edward.
3 Edmond de Mortimer, Lord of Wigmoro.