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Oh, virtue's nurse, retired queen,
ROBERT BLAIR. 1699-1747.
FROM THE GRAVE." Whilst some affect the sun, and some the shade, Some flee the city, some the hermitage ; Their aims as various as the roads they take In journeying through life; the task be mine To paint the gloomy horrors of the tomb; Th’ appointed place of rendezvous, where all These travellers meet.—Thy succours I implore, Eternal King! whose potent arm sustains The keys of hell and death.—The Grave-dread
thing! Men shiver when thou'rt named: Nature, appallid, Shakes off her wonted firmness.-Ah! how dark Thy long-extended realms and rueful wastes ! Where naught þut silence reigns, and night, dark Dark as was chaos, ere the infant sun (night, Was roll'd together, or had tried his beams Athwart the gloom profound.—The sickly taper, By glimm'ring through thy low-brow'd misty vaults (Furr'd round with mouldy damps and ropy slime), Lets fall a supernumerary horror, And only serves to make thy night more irksome. Well do I know thee by thy trusty yew, Cheerless, unsocial plant! that loves to dwell Midst sculls and coffins, epitaphs and worms:
Where light-heeld ghosts and visionary shades,
See yonder hallow'd fane : the pious work
'scutcheons And tatter'd coats of arms, send back the sound Laden with heavier airs from the low vaults, The mansions of the dead.-Roused from their slumIn grim array the grisly spectres rise, [bers, Grin horrible, and, obstinately sullen, Pass and repass, hush'd as the foot of Night. Again the screech-owl shrieks : ungracious sound ! I'll hear no more : it makes one's blood run chill.
Quite round the pile, a row of reverend elms (Coeval near with that) all ragged show, Long lash'd by the rude winds. Some rift half down Their branchless trunks; others so thin a-top That scarce two crows could lodge in the same tree. Strange things, the neighbours say, have happen'd
here : Wild shrieks have issued from the hollow tombs : Dead men have come again, and walk'd about; And the great bell has tolld, unrung, untouch'd. (Such tales their cheer at wake or gossiping, When it draws near to witching time of night.)
Oft in the lone churchyard at night I've seen, By glimpse of moonshine checkering through the
trees, The schoolboy, with his satchel in his hand, Whistling aloud to bear his courage up,
And lightly tripping o'er the long flat stones
Invidious grave! how dost thou rend in sunder Whom love has knit, and sympathy made one ? A tie more stubborn far than nature's band. Friendship! mysterious cement of the soul, Sweetener of life and solder of society, I owe thee much! Thou hast deserved from me Far, far beyond what I can ever pay. Oft have I proved the labours of thy love, And the warm efforts of the gentle heart, Anxious to please.-Oh! when my friend and I In some thick wood have wanderd heedless on, Hid from the vulgar eye, and sat us down Upon the sloping cowslip-cover'd bank, Where the pure limpid stream has slid along In grateful errors through the underwood, Sweet murmuring; methought the shrill-tongued
thrush Mended his song of love; the sooty blackbird Mellow'd his pipe, and soften'd every note : The eglantine smell'd sweeter, and the rose Assumed a dye more deep; whilst ev'ry flower Vied with its fellow plant in luxury Of dress.-Oh! then the longest summer's day Seem'd too, too much in haste : still the full heart Had not imparted hals: 'twas happiness Too exquisite to last. Of joys departed,
Not to return, how painful the remembrance!
Beauty—thou pretty plaything, dear deceit, That steals so sostly o'er the stripling's heart, And gives it a new pulse, unknown before, The grave discredits thee: thy charms expunged, Thy roses faded, and thy lilies soild, What hast thou more to boast of? Will thy lovers Flock round thee now, to gaze and do thee homage? Methinks I see thee with thy head low laid, Whilst surfeited upon thy damask cheek The high fed worm, in lazy volumes roll'd, Riots unscared.-For this was all thy caution? For this thy painful labours at thy glass? T'improve those charms, and keep them in repair, For which the spoiler thanks thee not. Foul feeder, Coarse fare and carrion please thee full as well, And leave as keen a relish on the sense. Look how the fair one weeps! the conscious tears Stand thick as dewdrops on the bells of flow'rs: Honest effusion! the swoll'n heart in vain Works hard to put a gloss on its distress.
Sure 'tis a serious thing to die! My soul, What a strange moment must it be, when, near Thy journey's end, thou hast the gulf in view! That awful gulf no mortal e'er repass'd To tell what's doing on the other side. Nature runs back, and shudders at the sight, And every life-string bleeds at thoughts of parting ; For part they must : body and soul must part; Fond couple! link'd more close than wedded pair. This wings its way to its almighty source, The witness of its actions, now its judge; That drops into the dark and noisome grave, Like a disabled pitcher of no use.
Tell us, ye dead, will none of you, in pity
To those you left behind, disclose the secret ;
Poor man! how happy once in thy first state!