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To bear too tender, or too firm a heart,
To act a Lover's or a Roman's part?
Why bade ye else, ye pow'rs! her soul aspire Above the vulgar flight of low desire? Ambition first sprung from your blest abodes; The glorious fault of angels and of Gods; Thence to their images on earth it flows, And in the breasts of kings and heroes glows. Most souls, 'tis true, but peep out once an age, Dull sullen pris'ners in the body's cage: Dim lights of life, that burn a length of years Useless, unseen, as lamps in sepulchres; Like eastern kings a lazy state they keep, And, close confin'd to their own palace, sleep.
From these perhaps (ere nature bade her die)
And sep'rate from their kindred dregs below;
Nor left one virtue to redeem her race.
But thou, false guardian of a charge too good, Thou, mean deserter of thy brother's blood!
See on these ruby lips the trembling breath,
These cheeks, now fading at the blast of death; Cold is that breast which warm'd the world before, And those love-darting eyes must roll no more. Thus, if eternal Justice rules the ball,
Thus shall your wives, and thus your children fall:
And frequent hearses shall besiege your gates;
The gaze of fools, and pageant of a day!
What can atone (oh ever-injur'd shade!) Thy fate unpity'd, and thy rites unpaid? No friend's complaint, no kind domestic tear Pleas'd thy pale ghost, or grac'd thy mournful bier : By foreign hands thy dying eyes were clos'd, By foreign hands thy decent limbs compos'd, By foreign hands thy humble grave adorn'd, By strangers honour'd, and by strangers mourn'd!
What tho' no friends in sable weeds appear,
Grieve for an hour, perhaps, then mourn a year,
To midnight dances, and the public show?
So peaceful rests, without a stone, a name, What once had beauty, titles, wealth, and fame. How lov'd, how honour'd once, avails thee not, To whom related, or by whom begot;
A heap of dust alone remains of thee,
'Tis all thou art, and all the proud shall be !
Poets themselves must fall, like those they sung, Deaf the prais'd ear, and mute the tuneful tongue. Ev'n he, whose soul now melts in mournful lays, Shall shortly want the gen'rous tear he pays;
Then from his closing eyes thy form shall part, And the last pang shall tear thee from his heart, Life's idle business at one gasp be o'er,
The Muse forgot, and thou belov❜d no more!
DIRGE IN CYMBELINE,
Sung by GUIDERUS and ARVIRAGUS over FIDELE, supposed to be dead.
To fair Fidele's grassy tomb,
Soft maids and village hinds shall bring
No wailing ghost shall dare appear
And melting virgins own their love.
No wither'd witch shall here be seen,
The red-breast oft at evening hours
Shall kindly lend his little aid,
With hoary moss, and gather'd flowers,
To deck the ground where thou art laid. *
When howling winds, and beating rain,
The tender thought on thee shall dwell ;
Each lonely scene shall thee restore,
And mourn'd till Pity's self be dead.
The following Stanza, by Gray, and inserted in the early editions, only, of his Elegy in a Country Church-Yard, coincides so happily with the imagery contained in these beautiful lines of Collins, that we cannot forego the pleasure of inserting it here. The place it originally held in the Elegy, was immediately preceding the Epitaph, but being too long a parenthesis, it was afterwards excluded.
There scatter'd oft, the earliest of the year,
By hands unseen are show'rs of violets found;
And little footsteps lightly print the ground.