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To bear too tender, or too firm a heart,
Why bade ye else, ye pow'rs! her soul aspire Above the vulgar flight of low desire ? Ambition first sprung from your blest abodes; The glorious fault of angels and of Gods : Thence to their images on earth it flows, And in the breasts of kings and heroes glows. Most souls, 'tis true, but peep out once an age,
ull sullen pris'ners in the body's cage : Dim lights of life, that burn a length of years Useless, unseen, as lamps in sepulchres; Like eastern kings a lazy state they keep, And, close confin'd to their own palace, sleep.
From these perhaps (ere nature bade her die) Fate snatch'd her early to the pitying sky. As into air the purer spirits flow, And sep'rate from their kindred dregs below; So flew the soul to its congenial place, Nor left one virtue to redeem her race.
But thou, false guardian of a charge too good, Thou, mean deserter of thy brother's blood !
See on these ruby lips the trembling breath,
What can atone (oh ever-injur'd shade !) Thy fate unpity'd, and thy rites unpaid ? No friend's complaint, no kind domestic tear Pleas'd thy pale ghost, or grac'd thy mournful bier : By foreign hands thy dying eyes were clos’d, By foreign hands thy decent limbs compos'd, By foreign hands thy humble grave adorn'd, By strangers honour'd, and by strangers mourn'd!
What tho' no friends in sable weeds appear,
So peaceful rests, without a stone, a name, What once had beauty, titles, wealth, and fame. How lov’d, how honour'd once, avails thee not, To whom related, or by whom begot; A heap of dust alone remains of thee, 'Tis all thou art, and all the proud shall be !
Poets themselves must fall, like those they sung, Deaf the prais'd ear, and mute the tuneful tongue. Ev’n he, whose soul now melts in mournful lays, Shall shortly want the gen’rous tear he pays ;
Then from his closing eyes thy form shall part,
DIRGE IN CYMBELINE,
Sung by GUIDERUS and ARVIRAGUS over FIDELE,
supposed to be dead.
To fair Fidele's grassy tomb,
Soft maids and village hinds shall bring
And rifle all the breathing spring.
No wailing ghost shall dare appear
To vex with shrieks this quiet grove,
And melting virgins own their love.
No wither'd witch shall here be seen,
No goblins lead their nightly crew :
The red-breast oft at evening hours
Shall kindly lend his little aid,
To deck the ground where thou art laid. *
When howling winds, and beating rain,
In tempests shake the sylvan cell;
The tender thought on thee shall dwell;
Each lonely scene shall thee restore,
For thee the tear be duly shed ;
And mourn'd till Pity's self be dead.
* The following Stanza, by Gray, and inserted in the early editions, only, of his Elegy in a Country Church-Yard, coincides so happily with the imagery contained in these beautiful lines of Collins, that we cannot forego the pleasure of inserting it here. The place it originally held in the Elegy, was immediately preceding the Epitaph, but being too long a parenthesis, it was afterwards excluded.
There scatter'd oft, the earliest of the year,
By hands unseen are show'rs of violets found;
And little footsteps lightly print the ground.