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To strew fresh laurels let the task be nine,
A frequent pilgrim at thy sacred shrine;
Mine with true sighs thy absence to bemoan,
And grave with faithful epitaphs thy stone.
If e'er from me thy loved memorial part,
May shame afflict this alienated heart;
Of thee forgetful if I form a song,
My lyre be broken, and untuned my tongue,
My grief be doubled, from thy image free,
And mirth a torment, unchastised by thee.
Oft let me range the gloomy aisles alone,
Sad luxury! to vulgar minds unknown,
Along the walls where speaking marbles show
What worthies form the hallowed mould below;
Proud names, who once the reins of empire held;
In arms who triumphed; or in arts excelled;
Chiefs, graced with scars, and prodigal of blood;
Stern patriots, who for sacred freedom stood;
Just men, by whom impartial laws were given;
And saints who taught, and led, the way to heaven.
Ne'er to these chambers, where the mighty rest,
Since their foundation, came a nobler guest;
Nor e'er was to the bowers of bliss conveyed
A fairer spirit or more welcome shade.
In what new region, to the just assigned,
What new employments please the unbodied mind?
A winged Virtue, through the ethereal sky,
From world to world unwearied does he fly ?
Or curious trace the long laborious maze
Of Heaven's decrees, where wondering angels gaze?
Does he delight to hear bold seraphs tell
How Michael battled, and the dragon fell;
Or, mixed with milder cherubim, to glow
In hymns of love, not ill essayed below ?
Or dost thou warn poor mortals left behind,
A task well suited to thy gentle mind?
Oh! if sometimes thy spotless form descend,
To me thy aid, thou guardian Genius, lend !
When rage misguides me, or when fear alarms,
When pain distresses, or when pleasure charms,
In silent whisperings purer thoughts impart,
And turn from ill a frail and feeble heart;
Lead through the paths thy virtue trod before,
Till bliss shall join, nor death can part us more.
That awful form, which, so the Heavens decree,
Must still be loved and still deplored by me,
In nightly visions seldom fails to rise,
Or, roused by Fancy, meets my waking eyes.
If business calls, or crowded courts invite,
The unblemished statesman seems to strike my sight;
If in the stage I seek to soothe my care,
I meet his soul which breathes in Cato there;
If pensive to the rural shades I rove,
75 His shape o'ertakes me in the lonely grove; 'Twas there of just and good he reasoned strong, Cleared some great truth, or raised some serious song: There patient showed us the wise course to steer, A candid censor, and a friend severe;
80 There taught us how to live; and (oh! too high The price for knowledge) taught us how to die.
Thou Hill, whose brow the antique structures grace,
Reare l by bold chiefs of Warwick's noble race,
Why, once so loved, whene'er thy bower appears,
O’er my dim eyeballs glance the sudden tears!
How sweet were once thy prospects fresh and fair,
Thy sloping walks, and unpolluted air !
How sweet the glooms beneath thy aged trees,
Thy noon-tide shadow, and thy evening breeze !
His image thy forsaken bowers restore;
Thy walks and airy prospects charm no more;
No more the summer in thy glooms allayed,
Thy evening breezes, and thy noon-day shade.
From other ills, however Fortune frowned ;
95 Some refuge in the Muse's art I found : Reluctant now I touch the trembling string, Bereft of him who taught me how to sing; And these sad accents, murmured o'er his urn, Betray that absence they attempt to mourn. Oh must I then (now fresh my bosom bleeds, And Craggs in death to Addison succeeds) The verse, begun to one lost friend, prolong, And weep a second in the unfinished song!
These works divine, which, on his death-bed laid, 105 To thee, O Craggs, the expiring sage conveyed, Great, but ill-omened, monument of fame, Nor he survived to give, nor thou to claim. Swift after him thy social spirit flies, And close to his, how soon! thy coffin lies. Blest pair ! whose union future bards shall tell In future tongues: each other's boast! farewell, Farewell! whom joined in fame, in friendship tried, No chance could sever, nor the grave divide.
ELEGY TO THE MEMORY OF AN UNFORTUNATE
What beckoning ghost, along the moonlight shade,
Invites my steps, and points to yonder glade ?
'Tis she !-but why that bleeding bosom gored,
Why dimly gleams the visionary sword?
Oh ever beauteous, ever friendly! tell,
Is it, in heaven, a crime to love too well ?
To bear too tender, or too firm a heart,
To act a lover's, or a Roman's part ?
Is there no bright reversion in the sky,
For those who greatly think, or bravely die ?
Why bade ye else, ye Powers! her soul aspire
Above the vulgar Alight of low desire ?
Ambition first sprung from your blest abodes :
The gloricus fault of angels and of gods :
Thence to their images on earth it flows,
And in the breasts of kings and heroes glows.
Most souls, 'tis true, but peep out once an age,
Dull sullen prisoners in the body's cage :
Dim lights of life, that burn a length of years,
Useless, unseen, as lamps in sepulchres ;
Like eastern kings a lazy state they keep,
And, close confined to their own palace, sleep.
From these perhaps (ere nature bade her die)
Fate snatched her early to the pitying sky.
As into air the purer spirits flow,
And separate from their kindred dregs below;
So flew the soul to its congenial place,
Nor left one virtue to redeem her race.
But thou, false guardian of a charge too good,
Thou, mean deserter of thy brother's blood !
See on these ruby lips the trembling breath,
These cheeks now fading at the blast of death ;
Cold is that breast which warmed the world before,
And those love-darting eyes must roll no more.
Thus, if eternal justice rules the ball,
Thus shall your wives, and thus your children fall :
On all the line a sudden vengeance waits,
And frequent hearses shall besiege your' gates ;
There passengers shall stand, and pointing say,
(While the long funerals blacken all the way)
Lo! these were they, whose souls the Furies steeled,
And curst with hearts unknowing how to yield.
Thus unlamented pass the proud away,
The gaze of fools, and pageant of a day!
So perish all, whose breast ne'er learned to glow
For others' good, or melt at others' woe.
What can atone (O ever injured shade !)
Thy fate unpitied, and thy rites unpaid ?
No friend's complaint, no kind domestic tear,
Pleased thy pale ghost, or graced thy mournful bier :
By foreign hands thy dying eyes were closed,
By foreign hands thy decent limbs composed,
By foreign hands thy humble grave adorned,
By strangers honoured, and by strangers mourned !
What though no friends in sable weeds appear ; 55
Grieve for an hour, perhaps, then mourn a year,
And bear about the mockery of woe
To midnight dances, and the public show?
What though no weeping Loves thy ashes grace,
Nor polished marble emulate thy face?
What though no sacred earth allow thee room,
Nor hallowed dirge be muttered o'er thy tomb ?
Yet shall thy grave with rising flowers be drest,
And the green turf lie lightly on thy breast :
There shall the Morn her earliest tears bestow, 65
There the first roses of the year shall blow;
While angels with their silver wings o'ershade
The ground now sacred by thy relics made.
So, peaceful rests, without a stone, a name,
What once had beauty, titles, wealth, and fame.
How loved, how honoured once, avails thee not,
To whom related, or by whom begot ;
A heap of dust alone remains of thee;
'Tis all thou art, and all the proud shall be !
Poets themselves must fall, like those they sung, 75
Deaf the praised ear, and mute the tuneful tongue.
Even he, whose soul now melts in mournful lays,
Shall shortly want the generous tear he pays ;
Then from his closing eyes thy form shall part,
And the last pang shall tear thee from his heart, So
Life's idle business at one gasp be o'er,
The Muse forgot, and thou beloved no more!