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On some fond breast the parting soul relies,
For thee, who, mindful of the unhonored dead,
Some kindred spirit shall inquire thy fate,
Haply some hoary-headed swain may say,
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 would he rove, Now drooping, woful-wan, like one forlorn,
Or crazed with care, or crossed in hopeless love.
"One morn I missed him on the customed hill, Along the heath, and near his favorite 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 can'st read) the lay 115 '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,
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.
ODE ON THE SPRING°
Lo! where the rosy-bosomed Hours,°
The Attic warbler° pours her throat,
The untaught harmony of spring:
Where'er the oak's thick branches stretch
A broader browner shade,
Where'er the rude and moss-grown beech
Beside some water's rushy brink
With me the Muse shall sit, and think (At ease reclined in rustic state)
How vain the ardor of the crowd,
How low, how little are the proud,
Still is the toiling hand of Care;
Yet hark, how through the peopled air
The insect-youth are on the wing,
And float amid the liquid noon:
To Contemplation's sober eye°
Such is the race of Man:
And they that creep, and they that fly,
Alike the Busy and the Gay
They leave, in dust to rest.
Methinks I hear, in accents low,
Poor moralist! and what art thou?
Thy joys no glittering female meets,
No painted plumage to display:
ON A DISTANT PROSPECT OF ETON COLLEGE
Ανθρωπος, ἱκανὴ πρόφασις εἰς τὸ δυστυχεῖν.
Menander. Incert. Fragm. ver. 382.
YE distant spires, ye antique towers,
Where grateful Science still adores
Her Henry's holy shade°;
And ye, that from the stately brow
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!
Ah, fields beloved in vain!
Where once my careless childhood strayed,
A stranger yet to pain°!
I feel the gales that from ye blow
A momentary bliss bestow,
As, waving fresh their gladsome wing,
Say, father Thames, for thou hast seen°
Who foremost now delight to cleave,
The captive linnet which enthral?
What idle progeny succeed
To chase the rolling circle's speed,