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A sheep-hook, or have learnt aught else the least. 120
That to the faithful herdman's art belongs !
What recks it them ? What need they ? They are
And, when they list, their lean and flashy songs
Grate on their scrannel pipes of wretched straw ;
The hungry sheep look up, and are not fed,
But, swoln with wind and the rank mist they draw,
Rot inwardly, and foul contagion spread;
Besides what the grim wolf with privy paw
Daily devours apace, and nothing said.
But that two-handed engine at the door
130 Stands ready to smite once, and smite no more.”
Return, Alpheus ; the dread voice is past
That shrunk thy streams ; return Sicilian Muse,
And call the vales, and bid them hither cast
Their bells and flowerets of a thousand hues.
Ye valleys low, where the mild whispers use
Of shades, and wanton winds, and gushing brooks,
On whose fresh lap the swart star sparely looks,
Throw hither all your quaint enamelled eyes,
That on the green turf suck the honeyed showers, 140
And purple all the ground with vernal flowers.
Bring the rathe primrose that forsaken dies,
The tufted crow-toe, and pale jessamine,
The white pink, and the pansy freaked with jet,
The glowing violet,
145 The musk-rose, and the well-attired woodbine, With cowslips wan that hang the pensive head, And every flower that sad embroidery wears ; Bid amaranthus all his beauty shed, And daffodillies fill their cups with tears,
150 To strew the laureate hearse where Lycid lies. For so, to interpose a little ease, Let our frail thoughts dally with false surmise, Ay me! whilst thee the shores and sounding seas
Wash far away, where'er thy bones are hurled ; 155
Whether beyond the stormy Hebrides,
Where thou perhaps under the whelming tide
Visit’st the bottom of the monstrous world ;
Or whether thou, to our moist vows denied,
Sleep'st by the fable of Bellerus old,
Where the great Vision of the guarded mount
Looks towards Namancos and Bayona's hold.
Look homeward, Angel, now, and melt with ruth :
And, o ye dolphins, waft the hapless youth.
Weep no more, woful shepherds, weep no more, 165 For Lycidas, your sorrow, is not dead, Sunk though he be beneath the watery floor. So sinks the day-star in the ocean bed, And yet anon repairs his drooping head, And tricks his beams, and with new-spangled ore 170 Flanies in the forehead of the morning sky : So Lycidas sunk low, but mounted high, Through the dear might of Him that walked the waves, Where, other groves and other streams along, With nectar pure his oozy locks he laves,
175 And hears the unexpressive nuptial song, In the blest kingdoms meek of joy and love. There entertain him all the Saints above, In solemn troops, and sweet societies, That sing, and singing in their glory move,
180 And wipe the tears for ever from his eyes. Now, Lycidas, the shepherds weep no more ; Henceforth thou art the Genius of the shore, In thy large recompense, and shalt, be good To all that wander in that perilous flood.
Thus sang the uncouth swain to the oaks and rills,
While the still morn went out with sandals grey :
He touched the tender stops of various quills,
With eager thought warbling his Doric lay :
And now the sun had stretched out all the hills,
And now was dropt into the western bay.
At last he rose, and twitched his mantle blue :
To-morrow to fresh woods, and pastures new.
XC. ON THE TOMBS IN WESTMINSTER ABBEY.
MORTALITY, behold and fear
What a change of flesh is here !
Think how many royal bones
Sleep within these heaps of stones ;
Here they lie, had realms and lands,
Who now want strength to stir their hands,
Where from their pulpits seald with dust
They preach, ‘In greatness is no trust.'
Here's an acre sown indeed
With the richest royallest seed
That the earth did e'er suck in
Since the first man died for sin
Here the bones of birth have cried
'Though gods they were, as men they died !
Here are sands, ignoble things,
Dropt from the ruin'd sides of kings :
Here's a world of pomp and state
Buried in dust once dead by fate.
VICTORIOUS men of earth, no more
Proclaim how wide your empires are ;
Though you bind-in every shore
And your triumphs reach as far
As night or day,
Yet you, proud monarchs, must obey
And mingle with forgotten ashes, when
Death calls ye to the crowd of common men.
Devouring Famine, Plague, and War,
Each able to undo mankind,
Death's servile emissaries are ;
Nor to these alone confined,
He hath at will
More quaint and subtle ways to kill ;
A smile or kiss, as he will use the art,
15 Shall have the cunning skill to break a heart.
The glories of our blood and state
Are shadows, not substantial things ;
There is no armour against fate;
Death lays his icy hand on kings :
Sceptre and Crown
Must tumble down,
And in the dust be equal made
With the poor crooked scythe and spade.
Some men with swords may reap the field,
And plant fresh laurels where they kill :
But their strong nerves at last must yield ;
They tame but one another still :
Early or late
They stoop to fate,
And must give up their murmuring breath
When they, pale captives, creep to death.
The garlands wither on your brow;
Then boast no more your mighty deeds ;
Upon Death's purple altar now
See where the victor-victim bleeds :
Your heads must come
To the cold tomb;
Only the actions of the just
Smell sweet, and blossom in their dust.
WHEN THE ASSAULT WAS INTENDED TO THE
CAPTAIN, or Colonel, or Knight in arms,
Whose chance on these defenceless doors may seize,
If deed of honour did thee ever please,
Guard them, and him within protect from harms.
He can requite thee; for he knows the charms
That call fame on such gentle acts as these,
And he can spread thy name o'er lands and seas,
Whatever clime the sun's bright circle warms.
Lift not thy spear against the Muses' bower:
The great Emathian conqueror bid spare
The house of Pindarus, when temple and tower
Went to the ground : and the repeated air
Of sad Electra's poet had the power
To save the Athenian walls from ruin bare.