Let not Ambition mock their useful toil,
Their homely joys, and destiny obscure;
Nor Grandeur hear with a disdainful smile
The short and simple annals of the poor.
The boast of Heraldry, the pomp of Pow'r,
And all that Beauty, all that Wealth e'er
Await alike th' inevitable hour—
The paths of glory lead but to the grave.
Nor you, ye proud, impute to these the fault,
If Mem'ry o'er their tombs no trophies
Where through the long-drawn aisle, and fretted
The pealing anthem swells the note of praise.
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
Perhaps in this neglected spot is laid
Some heart once pregnant with celestial fire;
Hands that the rod of empire might have
Or waked to ecstasy the living lyre.
But Knowledge to their eyes her ample page,
Rich with the spoils of time, did ne'er
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
Th' applause of list'ning senates to
The threats of pain and ruin to despise,
To scatter plenty o'er a smiling land,
And read their hist'ry in a nation's
Their lot forbade: nor circumscribed alone
Their growing virtues, but their crimes
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 tenour of their way.
Yet ev'n these bones from insult to protect,
Some frail memorial still erected nigh,
With uncouth rhymes and shapeless sculpture
Implores the passing tribute of a sigh.
Their names, their years, spelt by th'
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
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;
Ev'n from the tomb the voice of Nature
Ev'n in our ashes live their wonted fires.
For thee, who, mindful of th' unhonour'd
Dost in these lines their artless tale relate;
If chance, by lonely Contemplation led,
Some kindred spirit shall inquire thy fate,