A Poet’s Epitaph



Art thou a Statesman, in the van
Of public business train’d and bred,
—First learn to love one living man;
Then may’st thou think upon the dead.
A Lawyer art thou?—draw not nigh;5
Go, carry to some other place
The hardness of thy coward eye,
The falshood of thy sallow face.
Art thou a Man of purple cheer?
A rosy Man, right plump to see?10
Approach; yet Doctor, not too near:
This grave no cushion is for thee.
Art thou a man of gallant pride,
A Soldier, and no man of chaff?
Welcome!—but lay thy sword aside,15
And lean upon a Peasant’s staff.
Physician art thou? One, all eyes,
Philosopher ! a fingering slave,
One that would peep and botanize
Upon his mother’s grave?20
Wrapp’d closely in thy sensual fleece
O turn aside, and take, I pray,
That he below may rest in peace,
Thy pin-point of a soul away!
—A Moralist perchance appears;25
Led, Heaven knows how! to this poor sod:
And He has neither eyes nor ears;
Himself his world, and his own God;
One to whose smooth-rubb’d soul can cling
Nor form nor feeling great nor small;30
A reasoning, self-sufficient thing,
An intellectual All in All!
Shut close the door! press down the latch:
Sleep in thy intellectual crust!
Nor lose ten tickings of thy watch,35
Near this unprofitable dust.
But who is He, with modest looks,
And clad in homely russet brown?
He murmurs near the running brooks
A music sweeter than their own.40
He is retired as noontide dew,
Or fountain in a noonday grove;
And you must love him, ere to you
He will seem worthy of your love.
The outward shews of sky and earth,45
Of hill and valley he has view’d;
And impulses of deeper birth
Have come to him in solitude.
In common things that round us lie
Some random truths he can impart,50
—The harvest of a quiet eye
That broods and sleeps on his own heart.
But he is weak, both Man and Boy,
Hath been an idler in the land;
Contented if he might enjoy55
The things which others understand.
—Come hither in thy hour of strength;
Come, weak as is a breaking wave!
Here stretch thy body at full length;
Or build thy house upon this grave.—60