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There pass with melancholy state,
By all the solemn heaps of fate,
And think, as softly-sad you tread
Above the venerable dead,
Time was, like thee they life possest,
And time shall be, that thou shalt rest.
Those graves with bending osier bound, That nameless heave the crumbled ground, Quick to the glancing thought disclose, Where toil and poverty repose.
The flat smoothe stones that bear a name } The chissel's slender help to fame, (Which ere our set of friends decay Their frequent steps may wear away ;) A middle race of mortals own, Men half ambitious, all unknown.
The marble tombs that rise en high, Whose dead in vaulted arches lie, Whose pillows swell with sculptur'd stones, Arms, Angels, epitaphs, and bones, These, all the poor remains of state, Adorn the rich, or praise the great; Who, while on earth in fame they live, Are senseless of the fame they give.
Ha! while I gaze, pale Cynthia fades, The bursting earth unvails the shades; All slow, and wan, and wrap'd with shouds, They rise in visionary crowds,
And all with sober accent cry,
THINK, MORTAL, WHAT IT IS TO DIF!
Now from yon black and funereal yew, That bathes the charnel-house with dew, Methinks, I hear a voice begin;
(Ye ravens, cease your croaking din,
Ye tolling clocks, no time resound
O'er the long lake and midnight ground!)
It sends a peal of hollow groans,
Thus speaking from among the bones.
When men my scythe and darts supply,
How great a King of fears am I!
They view me like the last of things;
They make, and then they dread my stings.
Fools! If you less provoke your fears,
No more my spectre form appears.
Death's but a path that must be trod,
If man would ever pass to God:
A port of calms, a state to ease
From the rough rage of swelling seas.
Why then thy flowing sable stoles,
Deep pendant cypress, mourning poles,
Loose scarfs to fall athwart thy weeds,
Long palls, drawn hearses, cover'd steeds,
And plumes of black, that, as they tread,
Nod o'er the 'scutcheons of the dead?
Nor can the parted body know,
Nor wants the soul these forms of woe;
As men who long in prison dwell,
With lamps that glimmer round the cell,
Whene'er their suffering years are run,
Spring forth to greet the glittering sun;
Such joy, though far transcending sense,
Have pious souls at parting hence.
On earth and in the body plac'd,
A few and evil years, they waste:
But when their chains are cast aside,
See the glad scene unfolding wide,
Clap the glad wing, and tower away,
And mingle with the blaze of day.
Parent of virtue, if thine ear
Attend not now to sorrow's cry;
If now the pity-streaming tear
Should haply on thy cheek be dry; Indulge my votive strain, O sweet Humanity!
Come, ever welcome to my breast!
A tender, but a cheerful guest.
Nor always in the gloomy cell
Of life-consuming sorrow dwell;
For sorrow, long-indulg'd and slow,
Is to Humanity a foe;
And grief, that makes the heart its prey,
Wears sensibility away.
Then comes, sweet nymph, instead of thee, The gloomy fiend, Stupidity.
that fiend be banish'd far,
Though passions hold perpetual war!
Nor ever let me cease to know
The pulse that throbs at joy or wo.
Nor let my vacant cheek be dry,
When sorrow fills a brother's eye;
Nor may the tear that frequent flows
From private or from social woes,
E'er make this pleasing sense depart;
Ye cares, handen not my heart!
If the fair star of fortune smile,
Let not its flatt'ring pow'r beguile;
Nor, borne along the fav'ring tide,
My full sails swell with bloating pride.
Let me from wealth but hope content,
Rememb'ring still it was but bent;
To modest merit spread my stone,
Unbar my hospitable door;
Nor feed, for pomp, an idle train,
While want unpitied pines in vain.
If Heav'n, in ev'ry purpose wise,
The envied lat of wealth denies;
If doom'd to drag life's painful load
Through poverty's uneven road,
And for the due bread of the day,
Destin'd to toil as well as pray;
To thee. Humanity, still true,
I'll wish the good I cannot do;
And give the wretch, that passes by,
A soothing word—a tear-a sigh.
Howe'er exalted or deprest,
Be ever mine the feeling breast.
From me remove the stagnant mind
Of languid indolence, reclin'd;
The soul that one long sabbath keeps,
And through the sun's whole circle sleeps;
Dull peace, that dwells in folly's eye,
And self-attending vanity.
Alike the foolish and the vain
Are strangers to the sense humane.
O for that sympathetic glow
Which taught the holy tear to flow,
When the prophetic eye survey'd
Sion in future ashes laid;
Or, rais'd to heav'n, implor'd the bread
That thousands in the desert fed!
Or, when the heart o'er friendship's grave
Sigh'd and forgot its pow'r to save—
O for that sympathetic glow,
Which taught the holy tear to flow!