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His clerk and sexton, I beheld with fear,
“Then were there golden times the village round: In his abundance all appear'd to abound;
46 Liberal and rich, a plenteous board he spread, Ev'n cool Dissenters at his table fed; Who wish’d, and hoped, and thought a man so
kind, A way to Heaven, though not their own, might find; To them, to all, he was polite and free,
51 Kind to the poor, and, ah! most kind to ma :
• Ralph,' would he say, 'Ralph Dibble, thou art old; That doublet fit, 't will keep thee from the cold: How does
my Sexton ?—What! the times are hard; 55 Drive that stout pig, and pen him in thy yard.' But most, his Reverence loved a mirthful jest;“Thy coat is thin; why, man, thou 'rt barely drest; It's worn to the thread! but I have nappy beer; Clap that within and see how they will wear!'
“Gay days were these; but they were quickly past: When first he came, we found he could n't last: A whoreson cough (and at the fall of leaf) Upset him quite :-but what's the gain of grief?
“Then came the Author-Rector; his delight 65 Was all in books; to read them or to write : Women and men he strove alike to shun, And hurried homeward when his tasks were done: Courteous enough, but careless what he said, For points of learning he reserved his head; 70 And when addressing either poor or rich, He knew no better than his cassock which: He, like an osier, was of pliant kind, Erect by nature, but to bend inclined; Not like a creeper falling to the ground,
75 Or meanly catching on the neighbours round:Careless was he of surplice, hood, and band, And kindly took them as they came to hand : Nor, like the doctor, wore a world of hat, As if he sought for dignity in that:
80 He talk’d, he gave, but not with cautious rules : Nor turn'd from gypsies, vagabonds, or fools; It was his nature, but they thought it whim, And so our beaux and beauties turn'd from him:
Of questions much he wrote, profound and dark,— 85
He bow'd, and archly smiled at what he said, Civil but sly:
-And is old Dibble dead ?' 100 Yes ! he is gone: And We are going all; Like flowers we wither, and like leaves we fall;Here, with an infant, joyful sponsors come, Then bear the new-made Christian to its home; A few short years and we behold him stand, 105 To ask a blessing with his Bride in hand : A few, still seeming shorter, and we hear His widow weeping at her husband's bier :Thus, as the months succeed, shall infants take Their names: thus parents shall the child forsake; 110 Thus brides again and bridegrooms blithe shall kneel, By love or law compell’d their vows to seal, Ere I again, or one like me explore, These simple Annals of the Village Poor.
THE MAIDEN'S LAMENT.
LET me not have this gloomy view,
About my room, around my bed; But morning roses wet with dew,
To cool my burning brows instead. As flowers that once in Eden grew,
5 Let them their fragrant spirit shed, And every day the sweets renew,
Till I, a fading flower, am dead. O! let the herbs I loved to rear
Give to my sense their perfumed breath; 10 Let them be placed about my bier,
And grace the gloomy house of death. I'll have my grave beneath a hill,
Where only Lucy's self shall know; Where runs the pure pellucid rill
15 Upon its gravelly bed below; There violets on the borders blow,
And insects their soft light display, Till, as the morning sun-beams glow, The cold phosphoric fires decay.
20 That is the grave to Lucy shown,
The soil a pure and silver sand, The green cold moss above it grown,
Unpluck'd of all but maiden hand : In virgin earth, till then unturn'd,
25 There let my maiden form be laid, Nor let my changed clay be spurn'd,
Nor for new guest that bed be made. There will the lark,—the lamb, in sport, In air,--on earth,--securely play,
And Lucy to my grave resort,
As innocent, but not so gay.
With bones all black and ugly grown,
35 Or on my wasted limbs be thrown. With ribs and skulls I will not sleep,
In clammy beds of cold blue clay, Through which the ringed earth-worms creep, And on the shrouded bosom prey;
40 I will not have the bell proclaim
When those sad marriage rites begin, And boys, without regard or shame,
Press the vile mouldering masses in. Say not, it is beneath my care;
45 I cannot these cold truths allow; These thoughts may not afflict me there,
But, 0! they vex and teaze me now.
50 But thou, my Lucy, come alone,
And let affection find the place. O! take me from a world I hate,
Men cruel, selfish, sensual, cold; And, in some pure and blessed state,
55 Let me my sister minds behold: From gross and sordid views refined,
Our heaven of spotless love to share,