Lines written on a Tablet in a School
If Nature, for a favorite Child
In thee hath temper’d so her clay,
That every hour thy heart runs wild
Yet never once doth go astray,
Read o’er these lines; and then review5
This tablet, that thus humbly rears
In such diversity of hue
Its history of two hundred years.
—When through this little wreck of fame,
Cypher and syllable! thine eye10
Has travell’d down to Matthew’s name,
Pause with no common sympathy.
And, if a sleeping tear should wake,
Then be it neither check’d nor stay’d:
For Matthew a request I make15
Which for himself he had not made.
Poor Matthew, all his frolics o’er,
Is silent as a standing pool;
Far from the chimney’s merry roar,
And murmur of the village school.20
The sighs which Matthew heav’d were sighs
Of one tir’d out with fun and madness;
The tears which came to Matthew’s eyes
Were tears of light, the oil of gladness.
Yet, sometimes, when the secret cup25
Of still and serious thought went round,
It seem’d as if he drank it up—
He felt with spirit so profound.
—Thou soul of God’s best earthly mould!
Thou happy soul! and can it be30
That these two words of glittering gold
Are all that must remain of thee?