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ON THE DEATH OF RICHARD WEST
In vain to me the smiling mornings shine,
And redd'ning Phoebus lifts his golden fire;
Or cheerful fields resume their green attire:
A different object do these eyes require;
And in my breast the imperfect joys expire.
And new-born pleasure brings to happier men;
To warm their little loves the birds complain:
ODE ON THE DEATH OF A FAVOURITE CAT
DROWNED IN A TUB OF GOLDFISHES
'T was on a lofty vase's side,
Where China's gayest art had dyed
Her conscious tail her joy declared;
Still had she gazed: but 'midst the tide
The hapless nymph with wonder saw;
She stretched, in vain, to reach the prize:
Presumptuous maid! with looks intent
Nor knew the gulf between:
Eight times emerging from the flood,
No dolphin came, no Nereid stirred,
From hence, ye beauties, undeceived,
Not all that tempts your wand'ring eyes
ELEGY WRITTEN IN A COUNTRY CHURCH-YARD
The lowing herd wind slowly o'er the lea;
Now fades the glimmering landscape on the sight,
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,
The rude forefathers of the hamlet sleep.
The breezy call of incense-breathing Morn,
The swallow twitt'ring from the straw-built shed,
No more shall rouse them from their lowly bed.
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 bowed 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 pow'r,
And all that beauty, all that wealth e'er gave, Awaits 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 through the long-drawn aisle 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 soothe 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 swayed, Or waked to ecstasy the living lyre.
But Knowledge to their eyes her ample page,
And froze the genial current of the soul.
Full many a gem of purest ray serene
The dark unfathomed caves of ocean bear;
And waste its sweetness on the desert air.
Some Cromwell guiltless of his country's blood.
Th' applause of list'ning senates to command,
And read their hist'ry in a nation's eyes,
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,
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,
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,
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
Graved on the stone beneath yon aged thorn."