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A COUNTRY CHURCH-YARD.
THE Curfew tolls the knell of parting day,
Now fades the glimmering landscape on the sight,
Save that from yonder ivy-mantled tow'r,
The moping owl does to the moon complain
Hark! how the sacred calm that breathes around,
Beneath those rugged elms, that yew-tree's shade,
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 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 bow'd the woods beneath their sturdy stroke!
Let not ambition mock their useful toil,
Their homely joys, and destiny obscure;
The boast of heraldry, the pomp of pow'r,
The paths of glory lead but to the grave.
Nor you, ye proud, impute to these the fault,
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 sooth 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 wak'd to ecstasy the living lyre:
But knowledge to their eyes her ample page
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.
Some village-Hampden, that, with dauntless breast,
Some Cromwell guiltless of his country's blood.
Th' applause of list'ning senates to command,
To scatter plenty o'er a smiling land,
And read their history in a nation's eyes,
Their lot forbade: nor circumscrib'd alone
Their growing virtues, but their crimes confin'd; Forbade 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.