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THE POET'S PRAYER.
Thus never shall the indignities of time
The poet, fostering for his native land
The curfew tolls the knell of parting day,
The lowing herd winds slowly o'er the lea, The ploughman homeward plods his weary way,
And leaves the world to darkness and to me. Now fades the glimmering 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. Hark! how the sacred calm that breathes around
Bids ev'ry fierce tumultuous passion cease, In still small accents whisp'ring from the ground
A grateful earnest of eternal peace. 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 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 furrow oft the stubborn glebe has broke ; How jocund did they drive their team a-field ! How bow'd the woods beneath their sturdy
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 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 sway'd,
Or waked to ecstasy the living lyre :
Rich with the spoils of time, did ne'er unroll ; 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.
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 history in a nation's eyesTheir lot forbade: nor circumscrib'd alone
Their growing virtues, but their crimes conForbade 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 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 tenour 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
That teach the rustic moralist to die.
This pleasing 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 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 ; Haply some hoary-headed swain shall 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.