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Can storied urn, or animated bust,
Back to its mansion call the fleeting breath?
Can Honour's voice provoke 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 wak'd to ecstasy the living lyre :
But Knowledge to their eyes her ample page,
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.
Some village Hampden, 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.
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 bistory 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,
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 tenor of their way. • This part of the Elegy differs from the first copy. The following stanza was excluded with the other alteration:
“Hark! how the sacred calm, that breathes around,
Bids every fierce tumultuous passion cease;
In still small accents whispering from the ground,
A grateful earnest of eternal peace.”
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 the 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,
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' 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 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 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, woeful, wan, like one forlorn,
Or craz'd with care, or cross'd in hopeless love.
“ One morn I miss'd him on the 'custom’d hill,
Along the heath,* and near his favourite tree;
Another came ; nor yet beside the rill,
Nor up the lawn, nor at the wood was he;
• Mr. Gray forgot, when he displaced, by the preceding stanza, his beautiful de. scription of the evening haunt, the reference to it which he had here left:
“ Him have we seen the greenwood side along,
While o'er the heath we hied, our labour done,
Oft as the woodlark pip'd her farewell song.
With wistful eyes pursue thu setting sun.
“ The next with dirges due, in sad array,
Slow thro' the church-way path we saw him borne,
Approach and read (for thou canst read) the lay,
Grav'd on the stone beneath yon aged thorn."*
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 marked him for her own.
Large was his bounty, and his soul sincere;
Heav'n did a recompence 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 farther 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.
TIME was, is past; thou can'st not it recall;
Time is, thou hast; employ the portion small;
Time future is not, and may never be ;
Time present is the only time for thee.
JUSTICE AND MERCY.
Lo! Justice with a brow severe,
With eyes that never shed a tear,
Upon Mount Sinai takes her stand,
With the stone tables in her hand.
• In the early editions the following lines were added, but the parenthesis was too long:
“There scatter'd oft, the earliest of the year,
By hands unseen, are showers of violets found
The red-breast loves to build and warble there.
And little footsteps lighty print the ground."
As she descends the lightnings flash,
And thunders roll and roar and crash;
Thick sinoke and clouds around her spread,
And the Mount trembles at her tread.
Her two-edg'd sword she sternly draws,
And points it to her broken laws;
Then sounds her trumpet through the Mount,
To summon all to their account.
And can I bear her piercing eye
Fixed on my heart, without a sigh ?
Or see her lift her awful scale,
And yet not tremble and grow pale ?
She calls for me, with voice severe;
I dare not, yet I must appear:
Ob! whither can a sinner fly?
Lord, save me, save me, or I die!
Heaven opens, and I see above
Mercy fly down on wings of love;
Upon her face sweet smiles arise,
Though tear-drops glisten in her eyes.
She comes array'd in robes of light,
Surrounded with a rainbow bright;
The lightning's flash and thunder's roar,
As she descends, prevail no more.
She passes o’er the barren sand,
And, lo! it blooms a fruitful land;
She lights upon the mountain's brow,
And flowers adorn its summit now.
Her placid face, her beaming eye,
Forbid my dark despondency;
While sweetly in my trembling ear
She whispers, “ Child, no longer fear.”
E'en the stern face of Justice smiled,
As Mercy spoke in accents mild :
“Stay, elder sister ; come with me,
We'll try this cause at Calvary.”
Forth they proceed—I closely cling-
Under the shade of Mercy's wing:
They bear me to their Sovereign Lord,
And state my case for his award.
First, Justice, with her charge begins,
And shows the record of my sins;
And then from God's unchanging laws
Sentence of condemnation draws.
I tremble—all the charge is true-
What can a guilty sinner do ?
Yet ere the Judge my fate decree,
O Mercy! wilt thou speak for me?
She hasten'd to the Judge's side,
She pleaded that for me He died,
Fulfill'd the law, my sentence bore,
And Justice could demand no more.
Who can resist this wondrous plea ?
Justice now turns and smiles on me;
Her sword and terrors shall from hence
Become my safety and defence.
The Holy Sisters then embrace,
And bear me to my Saviour's face ;
His glories evermore to view,
And praise his love and justice too.
THERE sin shall never more annoy,
Tears shall be chas'd by smiles of joy,
Prayer end in praise, hope in delight,
And faith be chang’d to perfect sight.
SPRING. FLOWERS, fields, and birds in blooming Spring, To God their early tribute bring; I'll raise their offerings with my own, Like incense to our Maker's throne.
THE ART OF CHARMING.
What is the blooming tincture of a skin,
To peace of mind, to harmony within ?
What the bright sparkling of the finest eye,
To the soft soothing of a calm reply?