Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

nature ---God, is their ally. Now he overwhelms the hosts of their enemies beneath his drifting mountains of sand; now he buries them beneath a falling atmosphere of polar snows; he lets loose his tempests on their fleets; he puts a folly into their counsels, a madness into the hearts of their leaders; and he never gave, and he never will give, a full and final triumph over a virtuous, gallant people, resolved to be free.

LESSON CXXI.

Elegy written in a Country Churchyard.—GRAY. The curfew tolls--the knell of parting day ;

The lowing herd winds slowly o’er the lēa ; 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 forever 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 bowed 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, Await, alike, the inevitable hour;

The paths of glory lead but to the gravė. Nor you, ye proud, impute to these the fault,

If memory 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 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 swayed,

Or waked to ecstasy the living lyre:

But Knowledge to their eyes her ample page,

Rich with the spoils of time, did ne'er unrol; Chill Penury repressed their noble rage,

And froze the genial current of the soul.

Full many a gem, of purest ray serene,

The dark, unfathomed 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.

The applause of listening 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,

[ocr errors]

Their lot forbade : nor circumscribed alone

Their growing virtues, but their crimes confined ; 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 learned to stray : Along the cool, sequestered vale of life

They kept the noiseless tenor of their way, Yet even these bones from insult to protect,

Some frail memorial, still erected nigh, With uncouth rhymes and shapeless sculpture decked,

Implores the passing tribute of a sigh. Their name, their years, spelled by the unlettered 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 resigned, 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 : Even from the tomb the voice of nature cries,

Even in our ashes live their wonted fires.

For thee, who, mindful of the unhonoured dead,

Dost in these lines their artless tale relate, If, chance, by lonely Contemplation led, Some kindred spirit shall inquire thy fate,

Haply, some hoary-headed swain may say,

« Oft have we seen him, at the peep of dawn, Brushing, with hasty steps, the dews away,

To meet the sun upon the upland lawn. “ There, at the foot of yonder nodding beech,

That wreathes its old, fantastic roots so high, His listless length at noontide would-he stretch,

And pore upon the brook that babbles by. 6. Hard by yon wood, now smiling, as in scorn,

Muttering his wayward fancies, he would rove; Now drooping, woful wan, like one forlorn,

Or crazed with care, or crossed in hopeless love.

“One morn I missed him on the accustomed 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 through the churchway path we saw him borne. Approach and read (for thou canst read) the lay, Graved on the stone beneath yon aged thorn."

The Epitaph.
HERE rests his head upon the lap of earth

A youth, to fortune and to fame unknown:
Fair Science frowned not on his humble birth,

And Melancholy marked him for her own.
Large was his bounty, and his soul sincere :

Heaven did a recompense as largely send :-
He gave to misery all he had—a tear;
He gained from heaven--twas all he wished

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.

LESSON CXXII.

The Grave of Körner.-MRS. HEM'Ans.

CHARLES

THEODORE KORNER, the young German poet and soldier, was killed in a skirmish with a detachment of French troops, on the 26th of August, 1813, a few hours after the composition of his most popular piece,“ The Sword Song: He was buried under a beautiful oak, in a recess of which he had frequently deposited verses composed by him while campaiguing in its vicinity. The monument erected to his memory, beneath this tree, is of cast iron, and the upper part is wrought into a lyre and sword, a favourite emblem of korner's, from

which one of his works had been entitled. Near the grave of the poet is that of his only sister, who died of grief for his

loss, having survived him only long enough to complete his portrait, and a drawing of his burial place. Over the gate of the cemetery is engraved one of his own lines, Forget not the faithful dead."

GREEN wave the oak forever o'er thy rest!

Thou that beneath its crowning foliage sleepest, And, in the stillness of thy country's breast,

Thy place of memory, as an altar, keepest: Brightly thy spirit o'er her hills was poured,

Thou of the lyre and sword!

Rest, bard! rest, soldier! By the father's hand

Here shall the child of after-years be led, With his wreath-offering silently to stand

In the hushed presence of the glorious dead, Soldier and bard For thou thy path hast trod

With Freedom and with God.*

The oak waved proudly o'er thy burial rite;

On thy crowned bier to slumber warriors bore thee; And, with true hearts, thy brethren of the fight

Wept as they vailed their drooping banners o'er thee; And the deep guns, with rolling peal, gave token

That lyre and sword were broken.

Thou hast a hero's tomb !A lowlier bed

Is hers, the gentle girl beside thee lying,
The gentle girl, that bowed her fair young head,

When thou wert gone, in silent sorrow dying.
Brother !-true friend !--the tender and the brave!

She pined to share thy grave. The poems of Korner, which were chiefly devoted to the cause of his country, are strikingly distinguished by religious feeling, and a confidence in the Supreme Justice for the final deliverance of Germany,

« AnteriorContinuar »