« PreviousContinue »
And thus I love them better still,
E’en in extremity of ill.
By Yarrow's stream still let me stray,
Though none should guide my feeble way;
Still feel the breeze down Ettrick break,
Although it chill
Still lay my head by Teviot-stone,
Though there, forgotten and alone,
The bard may draw his parting groan.
Hail to the crown by freedom shap’d, to gird
An English sovereign's brow! and to the throne
Whereon he sits! whose deep foundations lie
In veneration and the people's love;
Whose steps are equity, whose seat is law.
Hail to the state of England! And conjoin
With this a salutation as devout
Made to the spiritual fabric of her Church;
Founded in truth, by blood of martyrdom
Cemented, by the hands of wisdom rear'd
In beauty of holiness, with order'd pomp,
Decent and unreprov'd. The voice that greets
The majesty of both shall pray for both,
That, mutually protected and sustain'd,
They may endure long as the sea surrounds
This favour'd land, or sunshine warms her soil.
And O, ye swelling hills and spacious plains,
Besprent from shore to shore with steeple-tow'rs,
And spires whose “silent finger points to heav'n;"
Nor wanting, at wide intervals, the bulk
Of ancient minster, lifted above the cloud
Of the dense air which town or city breeds,
To intercept the sun's glad beams! may ne'er
That true succession fail of English hearts,
Who, with ancestral feeling, can perceive
What in those structures ye possess
Of ornamental interest, and the charm
Of pious sentiment diffus'd afar,
And human charity, and social love.
Thus never shall the indignities of time
Approach their reverend graces unoppos’d;
Nor shall the elements be free to hurt
Their fair proportions; nor the blinder rage
Of bigot zeal madly to overturn.
And if the devastating hand of war
Spare them, they shall continue to bestow
Upon the throng’d abodes of busy men
(Deprav’d, and ever prone to fill their minds
Exclusively with transitory things)
An air and mien of dignified pursuit,
Of sweet civility, or rustic wilds.
The poet, fostering for his native land
Such hope, entreats that servants may abound
Of those pure altars worthy; ministers
Detach'd from pleasure; to the love of gain
Superior ; unsusceptible of pride;
And by ambitious longings undisturb’d:
Men whose delight is where their duty leads
Or fixes them ; whose least distinguish'd day
Shines with some portion of that heav'nly lustre
Which makes the Sabbath lovely in the sight
Of blessed angels, pitying human cares.
And as on earth it is the doom of truth
To be perpetually attack'd by foes,
Ope or covert, be that priesthood still,
For her defence, replenish'd with a band
Of strenuous champions, in scholastic arts
Thoroughly disciplin’d; nor (if in course
Of the revolving world's disturbances,
Cause should recur-which righteous Heav'n avert !-
To meet such trial) from their spiritual sires
Degenerate; who, constrain’d to wield the sword
Of disputation, shrunk not, though assail'd
With hostile din, and combating in sight
Of angry empires, partial and unjust;
And did thereafter bathe their hands in fire,
So to declare the conscience satisfied ;
Nor for their bodies would accept relief;
But, blessing God, and praising him, bequeath'd
With their last breath, from out the smouldering flame,
The faith which they by diligence had earn’d,
Or through illuminating grace receiv’d,
For their dear countrymen, and all mankind.
O high example, constancy divine !
The curfew tolls the knell of parting day,
The lowing herd winds slowly o'er the lea, The ploughman homeward plods his weary way,
And leaves the world to darkness and to me.
Now fades the glimm’ring landscape on the sight,
And all the air a solemn stillness holds,
Save where the beetle wheels his droning flight,
And drowsy tinklings lull the distant folds ;
Save that, from yonder ivy-mantld tow'r,
The moping owl does to the moon complain Of such as, wand'ring near her secret bow'r,
Molest her ancient solitary reign.
Hark! how the sacred calm that breathes around
Bids ev'ry fierce tumultuous passion cease,
In still small accents whisp’ring from the ground
A grateful earnest of eternal peace.
Beneath those rugged elms, that yew-tree's shade,
Where heaves the turf in many a mould’ring heap, 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 busy housewife ply her evening care ; No children run to lisp their sire's return,
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 a-field !
How bow'd the woods beneath their sturdy stroke!
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 gave, 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 tomb no trophies raise, Where through the long-drawn aisle and fretted vault
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 soothe the dull cold ear of death ?