Графични страници
PDF файл

For them no more the blazing hearth shall burn,

Or busy 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 furrows oft the stubborn glebe has broke;
How jocund? did they drive their team a-field!

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 heraldry8, the pomp of

And all that beauty, all that wealth, e'er gave,
Await alike the inevitable hour:

The paths of glory lead but to the grave.
Nor you, ye proud! impute to these the fault,

If Memory o'er their tomb no trophieso raise,
Where through the long-drawn aislelo and frettedal vault18,

The pealing anthem swells the note of praise.
Can storied urn13 or animated bust14

Back to its mansion call the fleeting15 breath?
Can Honour's voice provokel6 the silent dust,

Or Flattery 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 sway'd,

Or waked to ecstasy the living lyre.
But Knowledge to their eyes her ample page,

Rich with the spoils of Time, did ne'er unroll;
Chill Penury17 repress'd their noble rage18,

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.


4 sickle, a hook with which corn is cut. furrow, the track of the plough. 6 glebe, the earth. 7 jocund, merry. 8 boast of heraldry, pride of family. 9 trophies, memorials of triumph. 10 aisle, the passage of a church. 11 fretted, adorned with raised work.

12 vault, here, a vaulted roof.
:3 storied urn, an urn with inscription.
14 animated bust, a bust so admirably

carved that it scems like life.
15 fleeting, departing quickly.
16 provoke, arouse.
17 penury, poverty.
rage, any strong passion.


Some village Hampden-9, 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. The applause of listening senates to command,

The threats of pain and ruin to despise, To scatter plenty o'er a smiling land,

And read their history in a nation's eyes, Their lot forbade; nor circumscribed alone

Their glowing virtues, but their crimes confined; 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 shrine20 of Luxury and Pride,

With incense kindled at the Muse's flame. 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 even these bones from insult to protect,

Some frail memorial still erected nigh, With uncouth21 rhymes and shapeless sculpture deck'd, Implores the passing tribute of a sigh.

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,
This pleasing anxious being e'er resign'd,

Left the warm precincts of the cheerful day,

Nor cast one longing lingering look behind ? On some fond breast the parting soul relies,

Their names,

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 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 inquire thy fate;

19 Hampden, a celebrated member of parliament in the reign of Charles I.

20 shrine, repository of anything sacred. 21 uncouth, inelegant.

Haply some hoary-headed swain22 may say, “Oft have we seen him at the


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 noon-tide would he stretch,

“And pore upon the brook that babbles by. “Hard by yon wood, now smiling as in scorn,

“Muttering his wayward fancies, he would rove! “Now drooping, woful wan! like one forloru,

“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,


the lawn, nor at the wood, was he; “ The next, with dirges23 due, in sad array,

[ocr errors]

« Nor

“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."


Here rests his head upon the lap of Earth,

A youth to Fortune and to Fame unknown;
Fair Science frown'd not on his humble birth,

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 misery all he had-a tear;

He gain'd from Heaven ('twas all he wish'd) a friend.
No further 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.

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,
The red-breast loves to build and warble there,

And little footsteps lightly print the ground.
It was afterwards omitted, because it seemed too long a parenthesis.

[ocr errors]

The following little epitaph, by Ben Jonson, is one of the most exquisite in our language : EPITAPH ON THE COUNTESS OF PEMBROKE,

UNDERNEATH this marble hearsel
Lies the subject of all verse;
Sidney's sister, Pembroke's mother;
Death, ere thou hast slain another,
Learned, fair, and good as she,

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,
“And taste the pleasures of the passing day."
“ Live whilst you live," the sacred preacher cries,
“And give to God each moment as it flies."
Lord ! in my life let both united be:

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,
Carry a profitable game on!
The sexton, from the plunder'd grave,
With lint supplies his brother knave;
The surgeon, not to be outdone,
Murders his patients every one..
Plies them with potions, to destroy meant,

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.



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 bloomel forth brings,

With green hath clad the hill and eke the vale;
The nightingale with feathers new she sings ;

The turtle to her mate hath told her tale.
Summer is come, for every spray? now springs ;

The hart hath hung his old head on the pale,
The buck in brake his winter coat be flings,

The fishes fleet with new repaired scale :
The adder all her slough away she flings,

The swift swallow pursues the fliës small,
The busy bee her honey now she mings3.

Winter is worn that was the flower's bale.
And thus I see, among those unpleasant things,
Each care decays, and yet my sorrow springs.

To this we shall add a sonnet from our great modern poet, Wordsworth, which has a melancholy interest :

Orr have I seen, ere Time had plougli'd my cheek,

Matrons and sires, who, punctual to the call

Of their loved Church, ou Fast or Festival,
Through the long year, the house of prayer would seek :
By Christmas snows, by visitation bleak

Of Easter winds, unscared; from hut or hall

They came to lowly bench or sculptured stall,
But with one fervour of devotion meek.
I see the places where they once were known,

And ask, surrounded ev'n by kneeling crowds,
Is ancient piety for ever flown?

Alas! ev'n then they seem'd light fleecy clouds
That, struggling through the western sky, have won
Their pensive light from a departed sun!

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.


spray, branch.

3 mings, mixes.

« ПредишнаНапред »