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Hast set a guard
Of harmless thoughts, to watch and keep

Me while I sleep.
Low is my porch, as is my fate,

Both void of state;
And yet the threshold of my door

Is worn by the poor,
Who hither come, and freely get

Good words or meat.
Like as my parlour, so my hall,

And kitchen small;
A little buttery, and therein

A little bin,
Which keeps my little loaf of bread

Unchipt, unflead.
Some brittle sticks of thorn or brier

Make me a fire,
Close by whose living coal I sit,

And glow like it.
Lord, I confess, too, when I dine

The pulse is Thine,
And all those other bits that be

There placed by Thee.
The worts, the purslain, and the mess

Of water-cress,
Which of Thy kindness Thou hast sent:

And my content
Makes those, and my beloved beet,

To be more sweet. 'Tis Thou that crown'st my glittering hearth

With guiltless mirth;

IN A COUNTRY CHURCHYARD

205

And giv'st me wassail bowls to drink,

Spiced to the brink.
Lord, 't is Thy plenty-dropping hand

That sows my land:
All this, and better, dost Thou send

Me for this end:
That I should render for my part

A thankful heart,
Which, fired with incense, I resign

As wholly Thine:
But the acceptance

that must be,
O Lord, by Thee.

ROBERT HERRICK

ELEGY WRITTEN IN A COUNTRY

CHURCHYARD

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 glimmering 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-mantled tower

The moping owl does to the moon complain Of such as, wandering near her secret bower,

Molest her ancient solitary reign.

Beneath those rugged elms, that yew-tree's shade,

Where heaves the turf in many a mouldering 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 twittering 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 afield!

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 power,

And all that beauty, all that wealth e'er gave, Awaits alike th' inevitable hour:

The paths of glory lead but to the grave.

Nor you, ye Proud, impute to these the fault

If Memory o'er their tomb no trophies raise,

IN A COUNTRY CHURCHYARD

207

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? Caa Honour's voice provoke the silent dust,

Or Flattery soothe the dull cold ear of Death?

Perhaps in this neglected spot is laid

Some heart once pregnant with celestial fire; Hands, that the rod of empire might have sway'd,

Or waked to ecstasy the living lyre:

But Knowledge to their eyes her ample page

Rich with the spoils of time did ne'er unroll; 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 blood.

Th' applause of list'ning senates to command,

The threats of pain and ruin to despise, To scatter plenty o'er a smiling land,

And read their history in a nation's eyes

Their lot forbad: nor circumscribed alone

Their growing virtues, but their crimes confined; Forbad 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 e'en 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 lingering look behind?

On some fond breast the parting soul relies,

Some pious drops the closing eye requires;

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