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Far from the madding crowd's ignoble strise,
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 ev’n 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 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 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 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 noontide would he stretch,
And pore upon the brook that babbles by.
“ Hard by yon wood, now smiling as in scorn,
Muttring his wayward fancies he would rove; Now drooping, woful-wan, like one forlorn,
Or crazed 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 fav’rite tree; Another came ; nor yet beside the rill,
Nor up the lawn, nor at the wood was he :
“ The next, with dirges due, in sad array, Slow through the church-way path we saw him Approach and read (for thou canst read) the lay
Graved 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 mark'd him for her own.
Large was his bounty, and his soul sincere,
Heaven did a recompense as largely send : He gave to mis’ry (all he had) a tear,
He gain'd from heav'n ('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.
IN Britain's isle, no matter where,
An ancient pile of building stands : The Huntingdons and Hattons there
Employ'd the pow'r of fairy hands
To raise the ceiling's fretted height,
Each panel in achievements clothing, Rich windows that exclude the light,
And passages that lead to nothing.
Full oft within the spacious walls,
When he had fifty winters o'er him, My grave Lord-Keeper led the brawls ;
The seals and maces danced before him.