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For them no more the blazing hearth shall burn,
Oft did the harvest to their sickle yield;
Their furrow oft the stubborn glebe has broke: How jocund did they drive their team a-field! How bow'd the woods beneath their sturdy stroke!
Let not ambition mock their useful toil,
Their homely joys and destiny obscure : Nor grandeur hear, with a disdainful smile, The short and simple annals of the poor.
The boast of heraldry, the pomp of power,
The paths of glory lead—but to the grave.
Nor you, ye proud, impute to these a fault,
Can story'd urn, or animated bust,
Back to its mansion call the fleeting breath?
Perhaps, in this neglected spot is laid
Some heart, once pregnant with celestial fire: Hands that the rod of empire might have sway'd, Or wak'd to ecstacy the living lyre:
But knowledge to their eyes her ample page,
And froze the genial current of the soul.
Full many a gem of purest ray serene,
The dark, unfathom'd caves of ocean bear; Full many a flower is born to blush unseen, And waste its sweetness on the desert air.
Some village Hampden, that, with dauntless breast,
Th' applause of list'ning senates to command,
And read their hist'ry in a nation's eyes,
Their lot forbade; nor circumscrib'd alone,
The struggling pangs of conscious truth to hide,
With incense kindled at the muse's flame.
Far from the madd'ning crowd's ignoble strife,
They kept the noiseless tenour of their way.
Yet e'en these bones from insult to protect,
their years, spelt by th' unletter'd muse,
The place of fame and elegy supply; And many a holy text around she strews, That teach the rustic moralists 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, ling'ring 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 sires.
For thee, who mindful of the unhonour'd dead,
Haply, some hoary headed swain may say,
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,
Or craz'd with care, or cross'd in hopeless love.
One morn I miss'd him on th' accustom'd hill,
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 canst read) the lay, 'Grav'd on the stone beneath yon aged thorn."
Here rests his head upon the lap of earth,
Large was his bounty, and his soul sincere:
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.