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Once on a time (so runs the fable)
May yield, God knows, to strong temptation.
Our courtier walks from dish to dish, Tastes for his friend of fowl and fish:
Tells all their names, lays down the law,
Que ça est bon ! Ah goutez ça !
"That jelly's rich, this malmsey healing, Pray dip your whiskers and your tail in." Was ever such a happy swain!
He stuffs and swills, and stuffs again.
(It was by providence they think,
For your damn'd stucco has no chink.)
An ELEGY written in a COUNTRY CHURCH-YARD.
THE Curfew tolls the knell of parting day, The lowing herd 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 wings his drony flight, And drowsy tinklings lull the distant folds;
Save that from yonder ivy-mantled tow'r The moping 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 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 ev'ning 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 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 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
Can Honour's voice provoke the silent dust,
Perhaps in this neglected spot is laid
Hands, that the rod of empire might have sway'd, Or wak'd to extasy the living lyre.
But knowledge to their eyes her ample page,
Full many a gem of purest ray serene, The dark, unfathom'd caves of ocean bear;
Full many a flow'r 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 circumscrib'd alone
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,
Yet, ev'n these bones from insult to protect, Some frail memorial still erected nigh,
With uncough rhimes 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 moralist to die.
For who to dumb Forgetfulness a prey,
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' unhonour'd dead, Dost in these lines their artless tale relate,
If chance, by lonely Contemplation led, Some kindred spirit shall enquire thy fate,
Haply some hoary-headed swain may say,
Brushing with hasty steps the dews away,
There at the foot of yonder nodding beech, That wreathes its old fantastic roots so high, 'His listless length at noon-tide 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,
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, 'Grav'd on the stone beneath yon aged thorn.'
HERE rests his head upon the lap of Earth