A Poet’s Epitaph



Art thou a Statesman, in the van
Of public business trained and bred?
—First learn to love one living man;
Then mayst 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 falsehood 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
Wrappt 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-rubbed 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 watch35
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 shows of sky and earth,45
Of hill and valley, he has viewed;
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