« AnteriorContinua »
They to their grassy couch, these to their nest
Were sunk, all but the wakeful nightingale ;
She all night long her amorous descant sung :
Silence was pleas'd. Now glow'd the firmament
With living sapphires : Hesperus, that led
The starry host, rode brightest ; till the moon,
Rising in clouded majesty, at length,
Apparent queen, unveil'd her peerless light,
And o'er the dark her silver mantle threw.
When Adam thus to Eve. Fair consort th' hour
Of night, and all things now retir'd to rest,
Mind us of like repose ; since God hath set
Labor and rest, as day and night to men,
Successive ; and the timely dew of sleep
Now falling, with soft slumb'rons weight inclines
Our eyelids. Other creatures all day long
Rove idle, unemployed, and less need rest :
Man hath his daily work of body or mind
Appointed, which declares his dignity,
And the regard of Heaven on all his ways :
While other animals inactive range,
And of cheir doings God takes no acconnt.
Tomorrow, ere fresh morning streak the east
With first approach of light, we must be risen,
And at our pleasant labor, to reform
Yon flow'ry arbors, yonder alleys green,
Out walk at noon, with branches overgrown,
That mock our scant manuring and require
More hands than ours to lop their wanton growth ;
Those blossoms also, and those dropping gums,
That lie bestrown, unsightly and unsmooth,
Ask riddance, if we mean to tread with ease ;
Meanwhile, as nature wills, night bids us rest.
To whom thus Eve, with perfect beauty adorn'd : My author and disposer ! what thou bid'st Unargu'd I obey ; so God ordains ; God is thy law, thou mine, to know no more Is woman's happiest knowledge, and her praise. With thee conversing, I forget all time, All seasons and their change : all please alike. Sweet is the breath of morn, her rising sweet, With clrarm of earliest birds : pleasant the sun, When first on this delightful land he spreads His orient beams, on herb, tree, fruit and lower, Glist'ning with due ; fragrant the fertile earth After soft showers'; and sweet the coming on Of grateful evening mild ; then silent night, With this her solemn bird, and this fair moon. And these the gems of Heaven, her starry train : But neither breath of morn, when she ascends
With charm of earliest birds ; nor rising sun,
On this delightful land ; nor herb, fruit, flower,
Glist'ning with dew ; nor fragrance after showers ;:
Nor grateful evening mild; nor silent night,
With this her solemn bird ; nor walk by moon,
Or glittering starlight, without thee is sweet.
Thus, at their shady lodge arriv'd both stood,
Both turn'd; and under open sky ador'd
The God that made both sky, air, earth and Heaven,.
Which they beheld; the moon's resplendent globe,
And starry pole : Thou also mad'st the night,
Maker omnipotent, and thou the day.
Which we, in our appointed work employed,
Have finish'd ; happy in our mutual help
And mutual love, the crown of all our bliss,
Ordain'd by thee; and this delicious place,
For us too large ; where thy abundance wants,
Partakers, and uncropt, falls to the ground :
But thou hast promis'd from us two, a race
To fill the earth, who shall with us extol :
Thy goodness infinite, both when we wake, .
And when we seek, as now, thy gift of sleep.'
.—Elegy written in a Country Churchyard,-GRAY.
THE curfew tolls the knell of parting day ;
The lowing herds wind slowly o'er the lea ;
The ploughman homeward plods his weary way,
And leaves the world to darkness and to me.
Now fades the glimm'ring landscape on the sight,
And all the air a solemn stillness holds ;
Save where the beetle wheels his droning flight,
And drowsy tinklings lull the distant folds.
Save that from yonder ivy mantled tower,
The moping owl does to the moon complain
Of such, as wand'ring near her secret bower,
Molest her ancient solitary reign.
Beneath these rugged elms, that yew trees shade,
Where heaves the turf in many a mouldering heap,
Each in his narrow cell forever laid,
The rude forefathers 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 busy housewife ply her evening care ;
No children run to lisp their sires 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 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,
And all that beauty, all that wealth e'er gave,
Await, alike, the inevitable hour :
Th» paths of glory lead—but to the grave.
Nor you, ye proud, impute to these a fault,
If mem'ry o'er their tomb no trophies raise,
Where through the long drawn aisle and fretted vault,
The pealing anthem swells the note of praise.
Can story'd urn, or animated bust,
Back to its mansion call the fleeting breath?
Can honor's voice provoke the silent dust,
Or flattry 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 extacy the living lyre :
But knowledge to their eyes her ample page,
Rich with the spoils of time did ne'er enroll ;
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 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 with stood ;
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 forbade ; nor eircumscrib'd alone,
Their growing virtues, but their crimes confin'd;
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 fame.
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 tenor of their way.
Yet e'en these bones from 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 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 pleasiny, 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 unhonor'd 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,
Tp meet the sun upon the upland lawn.
There at the foot of yonder nodding beach,
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 craz'd with care, or cross'd in hopeless love.
One morn I miss'd him on th' accustom'd 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 iay,
'Grav'd on the stone beneath yon aged thorn."
HERE rest* his head upon the lap of earth,
A youth to fortune and to fame unknown :
Fair Science frown'd not on his humble birtli,
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 mis'ry 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.
XI.—Scipio restoring the Captive Lady to her Lover.
WHEN to his glorious first essay in war,
New Carthage fell; there all the flower of Spain
Were kept in hostage ; a full field presenting
For Scipio's generosity to shine.— A noble virgin
Conspicuous far o'er all the captive dames,
Was mark'd the general's prize. She wept and btash'd,
Young, fresh and blooming like the morn.
As when the blue sky trembles through a cloud
Of purest white. A secret charm combin'd
Her features, and infus'd enchantment through them.
Her shape was harmony. But eloquence
Beneath her beauty fails ; which seem'd on purpose
By nature lavish'd on her, that mankind
May see the virtue of a liero try'd,
Almost beyond the stretch of human force.
Soft as she pass'd along, with downcast eyes,
Where gentle sorrow swell'd, and now and then,
Drop'd o'er her modest cheeks a trickling tear,
The Roman legions languish'd, and hard war
Felt more than pity ; e'en their chief himself,
As on his high tribunal rais'd he sat,
Turn'd from the dang'rous sight; and, chiding, ask'd
His officers, if by this gift they meant
To cloud his glory in its very dawn.
She, question'd of her birth, in trembling accents,
With tears and blushes, broken told her tale.
But, when he found her royally descended ;
Of her old captive parents the sole joy ;
And that a hapless Celtiberian prince,
Her lover and belov'd, forgot his chains,
His lost dominions, and for her alone
Wept out his tender soul : sudden the heart
Of this young, conquering, loving, godlike Roman,
Fell all the great divinity of virtue.
His wishing youth stood check'd.his tempting power,
Restrain'd by kind humanity.--At once,