Page images


Perhaps in this neglected spot is laid

Some heart once pregnant with celestial fire; Hands that the rod of empire might have swayed,

Or waked to ecstasy the living lyre.


But Knowledge to their eyes her ample page,

Rich with the spoils of time, did ne'er unroll; Chill Penury repressed their noble rage,

And froze the genial current of the soul. Full many a gem of purest ray serene

The dark unfathomed 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

The little tyrant of his fields withstood, Some mute inglorious Milton, here may rest,

Some Cromwell guiltless of his country's blood.



Th' applause of list'ning senates to command,

The threats of pain and ruin to despise, To scatter plenty o'er a smiling land,

And read their hist'ry in a nation's eyes, Their lot forbad: nor circumscribed alone

Their growing virtues, but their crimes confined;
Forbad 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 learned to stray; Along the cool sequestered vale of life

They kept the noiseless tenor of their way.
Yet ev'n these bones from insult to protect,

Some frail memorial still erected nigh,
With uncouth rhymes and shapeless sculpture decked,

Implores the passing tribute of a sigh.


Their name, their years, spelt by th' unlettered 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 resigned, 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; Ev'n from the tomb the voice of Nature cries,

Ev'n in our ashes live their wonted fires.


For thee who, mindful of th' unhonoured dead,

Dost in these lines their artless tale 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 hasty 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,

Mutt'ring his wayward fancies, he would rove; Now drooping, woeful-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 fav'rite 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 church-way path we saw him borne: Approach and read (for thou canst 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;

Heav'n did a recompense as largely send : He gave to Mis’ry all he had, a tear;

He gained from Heav'n ('t was 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. 17427-50.



I. I


Awake, Æolian lyre, awake,
And give to rapture all thy trembling strings !

From Helicon's harmonious springs
A thousand rills their mazy progress take;

The laughing flowers that round them blow

Drink life and fragrance as they flow.
Now the rich stream of music winds along

Deep, majestic, smooth, and strong,
Through verdant vales and Ceres' golden reign:

Now rolling down the steep amain,

Headlong, impetuous, see it pour;
The rocks and nodding groves rebellow to the roar.


I. 2


Oh sovereign of the willing soul,
Parent of sweet and solemn-breathing airs,

Enchanting shell! the sullen Cares
And frantic Passions hear thy soft control.

On Thracia's hills the Lord of War

Has curbed the fury of his car
And dropped his thirsty lance at thy command.

Perching on the sceptred hand


Of Jove, thy magic lulls the feathered king

With ruffled plumes and flagging wing;

Quenched in dark clouds of slumber lie The terror of his beak and lightnings of his eye.

1. 3



Thee the voice, the dance, obey,
Tempered to thy warbled lay.
O'er Idalia's velvet-green
The rosy-crowned Loves are seen,

On Cytherea's day,
With antic Sports and blue-eyed Pleasures
Frisking light in frolic measures :
Now pursuing, now retreating,

Now in circling troops they meet;
To brisk notes in cadence beating

Glance their many-twinkling feet.
Slow melting strains their Queen's approach declare:

Where'er she turns the Graces homage pay;
With arms sublime, that float upon the air,

In gliding state she wins her easy way;
O'er her warm cheek and rising bosom move
The bloom of young Desire and purple light of Love.





Man's feeble race what ills await:
Labour, and Penury, the racks of Pain,

Disease, and Sorrow's weeping train,
And Death, sad refuge from the storms of Fate!

The fond complaint, my song, disprove,

And justify the laws of Jove.
Say, has he giv'n in vain the heav'nly Muse?

Night, and all her sickly dews,
Her spectres wan, and birds of boding cry,

He gives to range the dreary sky;

Till down the eastern cliffs afar
Hyperion's march they spy, and glitt'ring shafts of war.


II. 2

In climes beyond the solar road,
Where shaggy forms o'er ice-built mountains roam,

The Muse has broke the twilight-gloom

55 60

To cheer the shiv'ring native's dull abode.

And oft, beneath the od'rous shade

Of Chili's boundless forests laid,
She deigns to hear the savage youth repeat,

In loose numbers wildly sweet,
Their feather-cinctured chiefs and dusky loves.

Her track, where'er the goddess roves,

Glory pursue, and generous Shame,
Th' unconquerable Mind, and Freedom's holy flame.


II. 3


Woods that wave o'er Delphi's steep,
Isles that crown th' Ægean deep,
Fields that cool Ilissus laves,
Or where Mæander's amber waves

In lingering lab'rinths creep,
How do your tuneful echoes languish,
Mute but to the voice of Anguish?
Where each old poetic mountain

Inspiration breathed around,
Ev'ry shade and hallowed fountain

Murmured deep a solemn sound;
Till the sad Nine in Greece's evil hour

Left their Parnassus for the Latian plains :
Alike they scorn the pomp of tyrant Power,

And coward Vice that revels in her chains.
When Latium had her lofty spirit lost,
They sought, O Albion, next, thy sea-encircled coast !





Far from the sun and summer-gale,
In thy green lap was Nature's darling laid,

What time, where lucid Avon strayed,
To him the mighty Mother did unveil

Her awful face: the dauntless child

Stretched forth his little arms, and smiled.
“This pencil take,” she said, "whose colours clear

Richly paint the vernal year.
Thine too these golden keys, immortal boy:

This can unlock the gates of Joy;

Of Horrour that, and thrilling Fears,
Or ope the sacred source of sympathetic tears."


« PreviousContinue »