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For them no more the blazing hearth shall burn,
Or busy housewife ply her evening care;
Or climb his knees the envied kiss to share.
Their furrow oft the stubborn glebe6 has broke;
How bow'd the woods beneath their sturdy stroke!
Their homely joys, and destiny obscure:
The short and simple annals of the poor.
And all that beauty, all that wealth, e'er gave,
The paths of glory lead but to the grave.
If Memory o'er their tomb no trophies’ raise,
The pealing anthem swells the note of praise.
Back to its mansion call the fleeting15 breath?
Or Flattery soothe the dull cold ear of death?
Some heart once pregnant with celestial fire;
Or waked to ecstasy the living lyre.
Rich with the spoils of Time, did ne'er unroll;
And froze the genial current of the soul..
The dark, unfathom'd caves of ocean bear:
And waste its sweetness on the desert air.
4 sickle, a hook with which corn is cut. | 12 vault, here, a vaulted roof. 5 furrow, the track of the plough. 23 storied urn, an urn with inscription. 6 glebe, the earth.
14 animated bust, a bust so admirably 7 jocund, merry.
carved that it scems like life. 8 boast of heraldry, pride of family. 15 fleeting, departing quickly. 9 trophies, memorials of triumph. 16 provoke, arouse. 10 aisle, the passage of a church.
17 penury, poverty. 11 fretted, adorned with raised work. | 18 rage, any strong passion.
Some village Hampden-9, that with dauntless breast
The little tyrant of his fields withstood ;
Some Cromwell, guiltless of his country's blood.
The threats of pain and ruin to despise,
And read their history in a nation's eyes,
Their glowing virtues, but their crimes confined;
And shut the gates of mercy on mankind;
To quench the blushes of ingenuous shame,
With incense kindled at the Muse's flame.
Their sober wishes never learn'd to stray;
They kept the noiseless tenor of their way.
Some frail memorial still erected nigh,
Implores the passing tribute of a sigh.
The place of fame and elegy supply:
That teach the rustic moralist to die.
This pleasing anxious being e'er resign'd, -
Nor cast one longing lingering look behind ?
Some pious drops the closing eye requires;
E'en in our ashes live their wonted fires.
Dost in these lines their artless tale relate:
Some kindred spirit shall inquire thy fate;
19 Hampden, a celebrated member of 20 shrine, repository of anything sacred. parliament in the reign of Charles I. | 21 uncouth, inelegant.
Haply some hoary-headed swain22 may say,
“Oft have we seen him at the peep of dawn,
“ To meet the sun upon the upland lawn.
“ That wreathes its old fantastic roots so high,
“And pore upon the brook that babbles by.
“Muttering his wayward fancies, he would rove! “Now drooping, woful wan! like one forlorn,
“Or crazed with care, or crossed in hopeless love. “One morn I miss'd him on th' accustom'd hill,
“Along the heath, and near his favourite tree; “Another came; nor yet beside the rill,
“ Nor up the lawn, nor at the wood, was he; “ The next, with dirges23 due, in sad array,
“Slow through the church-way path we saw him borne: “ Approach and read (for thou canst read) the lay
“Graved on the stone beneath yon aged thorn24."
A youth to Fortune and to Fame unknown;
And Melancholy mark'd him for her own.
Heaven did a recompense as largely send;
He gain'd from Heaven ('twas all he wish'd) a friend.
Or draw his frailties from their dread abode,
The bosom of his Father and his God.
22 swain, a rustic, a countryman. 23 dirges, funeral songs.
24 In the poem, as originally written, the following beautiful stanza preceded the Epitaph:
There, scatter'd oft, the earliest of the year,
By hands unseen, are show'rs of violets found,
And little footsteps lightly print the ground.
The following little epitaph, by Ben Jonson, is one of the most exquisite in our language : EPITAPH ON THE COUNTESS OF PEMBROKE,
SISTER TO SIR PHILIP SIDNEY.
Time shall throw his dart at thee. An Epigram was originally a metrical inscription on a statue, or some remarkable edifice : it subsequently was used to signify any short piece of poetry, terminating in a pointed remark, whether humorous or serious. Of the serious epigram, Dr. Doddridge has left us a beautiful example ; it was suggested by the Latin motto, Dum vivimus vivamus, “Let us live while we live.”
“Live whilst you live," the epicure would say,
I live to pleasure if I live to Thee. Of the humorous epigram, the following may serve as an example:
SURE surgeon Pythias, sexton Damon,
And gives the sexton full employment. The Sonnet is a short poem, containing exactly fourteen lines, the rhymes of which are subject to the following restrictions: the entire Sonnet must consist of two stanzas, or measures of four lines, and two of three lines; and there must be but three rhymes in the first eight verses.
One of the earliest cultivators of the sonnet was the Earl of
I hearse, commonly a bier; but here, a tomb.
DIFFERENT SPECIES OF POETRY.
Surrey, who was put to death in the reign of Henry the Eighth. The following exquisite sonnet, on Spring, was written by him:
The sweet season that bud and bloomed forth brings,
With green hath clad the hill and eke the vale;
The turtle to her mate hath told her tale.
The hart hath hung his old head on the pale,
The fishes fleet with new repaired scale:
The swift swallow pursues the fiës small,
Winter is worn that was the flower's bale.
To this we shall add a sonnet from our great modern poet, Wordsworth, which has a melancholy interest :
THE DECAY OF PIETY.
Of their loved Church, on Fast or Festival,
Of Easter winds, unscared; from hut or hall
They came to lowly bench or sculptured stall,
And ask, surrounded ev'n by kneeling crowds,
Alas! ev'n then they seem'd light fleecy clouds
In this brief account of poetry, we have omitted all notice of the dramatic species, which would require to be treated at as much length as all the preceding, and which is, besides excluded from the plan of the present volume.
I bloome, blossom.
2 spray, branch.
3 mings, mixes.