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'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 crazed with care, or crossid 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.
• 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,
Graved on the stone beneath yon agèd thorn.'
The Epitaph 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.
On the Morning of Christ's Nativity
This is the month, and this the happy morn
Wherein the Son of heav'n's eternal king
Of wedded Maid, and Virgin Mother born,
Our great redemption from above did bring ;
the holy sages once did sing,
That He our deadly forfeit should release,
And with His Father work us a perpetual peace.
That glorious Form, that Light unsufferable,
And that far-beaming blaze of Majesty
Wherewith He wont at Heav'n's high council-table
To sit the midst of Trinal Unity,
He laid aside ; and here with us to be,
Forsook the courts of everlasting day,
And chose with us a darksome house of mortal clay.
Say, heav'nly Muse, shall not thy sacred vein
Afford a present to the Infant God?
Hast thou no verse, no hymn, or solemn strain,
To welcome Him to this His new abode,
Now while the heav'n by the sun's team untrod,
Hath took no print of the approaching light,
And all the spangled host keep watch in squadrons bright?
See how from far, upon the eastern road
The star-led wizards haste with odours sweet :
O run, prevent them with thy humble ode,
And lay it lowly at His blessed feet;
Have thou the honour first thy Lord to greet,
And join thy voice unto the angel quire,
From out His secret altar touch'd with hallow'd fire
It was the winter wild
While the heav'n-born Child
All meanly wrapt in the rude manger lies ;
Nature in awe to Him
Had doff d her gaudy trim,
With her great Master so to sympathise :
It was no season then for her
To wanton with the sun, her lusty paramour.
Only with speeches fair
She woos the gentle air
To hide her guilty front with innocent snow,
And on her naked shame,
Pollute with sinful blame,
The saintly veil of maiden white to throw,
Confounded that her Maker's eyes
Should look so near upon her foul deformities.
But He, her fears to cease,
Sent down the meek-ey'd Peace ;
She crown'd with olive green, came softly sliding
Down through the turning sphere,
His ready harbinger,
With turtle wing the amorous clouds dividing ;
And waving wide her myrtle wand,
She strikes a universal peace through sea and land.
No war, or battle's sound
Was heard the world around :
The idle spear and shield were high up hung,
The hooked chariot stood
Unstain'd with hostile blood,
The trumpet spake not to the armed throng,
And kings sat still with awful eye,
As if they surely knew their sov'reign Lord was by.
But peaceful was the night,
Wherein the Prince of Light
His reign of peace upon the earth began :
The winds, with wonder whist,
Smoothly the waters kist,
Whispering new joys to the mild oceán,
Who now hath quite forgot to rave,
While birds of calm sit brooding on the charmed wave.
The stars with deep amaze,
Stand fix'd in steadfast gaze,
Bending one way their precious influence,
And will not take their flight,
For all the morning light,
Or Lucifer that often warn’d them thence ;
But in their glimmering orbs did glow,
Until their Lord Himself bespake, and bid them go.
And though the shady gloom
Had given day her room,
The sun himself withheld his wonted speed,
And hid his head for shame,
As his inferior flame
The new-enlighten'd world no more should need ;
He was a greater Sun appear
Than his bright throne, or burning axletree, could bear.
The shepherds on the lawn, Or ere the point of dawn, Sate simply chatting in a rustic row; Full little thought they then That the mighty Pan Was kindly come to live with them below; Perhaps their loves, or else their sheep, Was all that did their silly thoughts so busy keep. When such music sweet Their hearts and ears did greet, As never was by mortal finger strook, Divinely-warbled voice Answering the stringèd noise, As all their souls in blissful rapture took : The air, such pleasure loth to lose, With thousand echoes still prolongs each heavenly close. Nature that heard such sound, Beneath the hollow round Of Cynthia's seat, the airy region thrilling, Now was almost won To think her part was done, And that her reign had here its last fulfilling ; She knew such harmony alone Could hold all.heav'n and earth in happier union. At last surrounds their sight A globe of circular light, That with long beams the shamefac'd night array'd ; The helmed Cherubim, And sworded Seraphim, Are seen in glittering ranks with wings display'd, Harping in loud and solemn quire, With unexpressive notes to Heaven's new-born Heir. Such music (as ’tis said) Before was never made, But when of old the Sons of Morning sung, While the Creator great His constellations set, And the well-balanc'd world on hinges hung, And cast the dark foundations deep, And bid the weltring
waves their oozy channel keep.
Ring out, ye crystal spheres,
Once bless our human ears,
If ye have power to touch our senses so;
And let your silver chime
Move in melodious time,
And let the bass of Heav'n's deep organ blow ;
And with your ninefold harmony
Make up full consort to th' angelic symphony.
For if such holy song
Inwrap our fancy long,
Time will run back, and fetch the age of gold,
And speckled Vanity
Will sicken soon and die,
And leprous Sin will melt from earthly mould
And Hell itself will pass away,
And leave her dolorous mansions to the peering day.
Yea, Truth and Justice then
Will down return to men,
Orb'd in a rainbow ; and, like glories wearing,
Mercy will set between,
Throned in celestial sheen,
With radiant feet the tissued clouds down steering :
And Heav'n, as at some festival,
wide the gates of her high palace hall.
But wisest Fate says, No,
This must not yet be so,
The Babe yet lies in smiling infancy,
That on the bitter cross
Must redeem our loss ;
So both himself and us to glorify ;
Yet first to those ychain'd in sleep
The wakeful trump of doom must thunder through the
With such a horrid clang
As on mount Sinai rang,
While the red fire and smouldering clouds outbrake :
The aged Earth aghast,
With terror of that blast,
Shall from the surface to the centre shake ;