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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 learn’d to stray; Along the cool sequester'd vale of life
They kept the noiseless tenour of their way.
Yet e’en these bones froin insult to protect
Some frail memorial still erected nigh, With uncouth rhymes and shapeless sculpture deck'd,
Implores the passing tribute of a sigh.
Their name, their years, spelt by the unletter'd 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 resign'd, Left the warm precincts of the cheerful day,
Nor cast one longing lingering look behind!
On some fond breast the parting soul relies,
Some pious drops the closing eye requires ; E'en from the tomb the voice of nature cries,
E'en in our ashes live their wonted fires.
For thee who, mindful of the unhonour'd dead,
Dost in these lines their arīless taie relate, If chance, by lonely Contemplation led,
Some kindred spirit shall inquire thy fate:
Haply some hoary-headed swain may say,
“ Oft have we seen him at the peep of dawn Brushing with lasty 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, woful, wan, like one forlorn.
Or crazed with care, or cross'd in hopeless love.
“ One morn I miss’d him on the accustom'd hill,
Along the heath and near his favourite tree; Another 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 frown'd not on his humble birth,
And Melancholy mark’d 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 gain’d from Heaven, 'twas all he wish’d, 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.
Fair Venus' train, appear,
And wake the purple year!
The untaught harmony of Spring; While, whispering pleasure as they fly, Cool Zephyrs through the clear blue sky
Their gather'd fragrance fling.
Where'er the oak's thick branches stretch
A broader, browner shade;
O'er-canopies the glade ;
(At ease reclined in rustic state) How vain the ardour of the crowd! How low, how little are the proud!
How indigent the great!
Still is the toiling hand of Care,
The panting herds repose;
The busy murmur glows !
And float amid the liquid
Quick glancing to the sun.
To Contemplation's sober eye
Such is the race of Man;
Shall end where they began.
In fortune's varying colours dress'd; Brush'd by the hand of rough mischance, Or chill'd by age, their airy dance
They leave, in dust to rest.
Methinks I hear in accents low
The sportive kind reply ;
A solitary fly!