« PreviousContinue »
Of grove, of lawn, of mead, survey,
Whose turf, whose shade, whose flowers among
Wanders the hoary Thames along
His silver-winding way.
Ah happy hills, ah pleasing shad,
Ah fields belov'd in vain,
Where once my careless childhood stray'd,
A stranger yet to pain!
I feel the gales that from ye blow,
A momentary bliss, bestow,
As waving fresh their gladsome wing,
My weary soul they seem to sooth,
And, redolent of joy and youth,
To breathe a second spring.
Say, Father Thames (for thou hast seen
Full many a sprightly race,
Disporting on thy margent green,
The paths of pleasure trace)
Who foremost now delight tò clave
With pliant arm thy glassy wave ?
The captive linnet which enthral?
What idle progeny succeed
To chase the rolling circle's speed,
Or urge the flying ball ?
Whilst some, on earnest buisness bent,
Their murm'ring labours ply
"Gainst graver hours, that bring constraint
To sweeten liberty:
Some bold adventurers disdain
The limits of their little reign,
And unknown regions dare descry:
Still as they run they look behind,
They hear a voice in every wind,
And snatch a fearful joy.
Alas, regardless of their doom,
The little victims play!..
No sense have they of ills to come,
No care beyond to-day :
Yet see how all around them wait
The Ministers of human fate,
And black Misfortune's baleful train !
Ah, shew them where in ambush stand
To seize their prey the murth’rous band !
Ah, tell them, they are men!
These shall the fury Passions tear,
The vultures of the mind,
Disdainful Anger, pallied Fear,
And shame that skulks behind ;
Or pining Love shall waste their youth,
Or Jealousy with rankling truth,
That inly gnaws the secret heart,
And Envy wan, and faded Care,
Grim-visag'd comfortless Despair,
And Sorrow's piercing dart.
Ambition this shall tempt to rise,
Then whirl the wretch from high,
To bitter scorn a sacrifice,
And grinning infamy.
The stings of falsehood those shall try;
And hard Unkindness' alter'd eye,
That mocks the tear it forc'd to flow;
And keen Remorse with blood defild,
And moody Madness laughing wild
Amid severest woe.
Lo, in the vale of years beneath
A grisly troop are seen,
The painful family of Death,
More hideous than their queen :
This racks the joints, this fires the veins,
That every labouring sinew strains,
Those in the deeper vitals rage ;
Lo, Poverty, to fill the band,
That numbs the soul with icy hand,
And slow-consuming Age.
To each his suff'rings : all are men,
Condemn'd alike to groan;
The tender for in other's pain,
Th' un feeling for his own.
Yet ah! why should they know their fate?
Since sorrow never comes too late,
And happiness too swiftly flies :
Thought would destroy their paradise,
No more; where ignorance is bliss,
"Tis folly to be wise.
ELEGY WRITTEN IN A COUNTRY
THE curfew tolls the knell of parting day,
The lowing herd winds slowly o'er the lea,
T'he ploughman homeward plods his weary way, And leaves the world to darkness and to me.
Now fades the glimmering landscape on the sight,
And all the air a solemn stillness holds,
Save where the beetle wheels his drony flight,
And drowsy tinklings lull the distant folds;
Save that from yonder ivy-mántled tow'r,
The mopeing owl does to the moon complain
Of such, as wand'ring near her secret bow'r,
Molest her ancient solitary reign.
Beneath those rugged'elms, that yew-tree's shade,
Where heaves the turf in many a mould'ring heap,
Each in his narrow cell for ever laid,
The rude, forfathers of the hamlet sleep.
The breezy call of incense-breathing Morn,
The swallow twitt'ring from the straw-built shed,
The cock's shrill Clarion, or the echoing horn,
No more shall rouse them from their lowly bed.
For them no more the blazing hearth shall burn,
Or buisy housewife ply her evening, care :
No children run to lisp their sire's return,
Or climb his knees the envied kiss to share.
Oft did the harvest to their sickle yield,
Their furrow oft the stubborn glebe has broke :
How jocund did they drive their team afield !
How bow'd the woods beneath their sturdy stroke
Let not ambition mock' their usual 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 pow'r,
And all that beauty, all that wealth e'er gave,
Await alike th' inevitable hour,
The paths of glory lead but to the grave.
Nor you, ye proud, impute to these the fault,
If Mem'ry o'er their tomb no trophies raise,
Where thro' the long-drawn isle, and fretted vault,
The pealing anthem swells the note of praise.
Can storied urn, or animated bust,
Back to its mansion call the fleeting breath?
Can Honour's voice provoke the silent dust,
Or flatt'ry sooth the dull cold ear of Death?
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
Rich with the spoils of time did ne'er unroll;
Chill Penury repress’d their noble rage,
And froze the genial current of the soul,
Full many a gem of purest ray serene
The dark unfathom'd cares 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,