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ODE ON A DISTANT PROSPECT OF ETON

COLLEGE

"Ανθρωπος, ικανή πρόφασις εις το δυστυχείν.

MENANDER.

5

YE distant spires, ye antique towers,

That crown the wat’ry glade,
Where grateful Science still adores

Her Henry's holy shade;
And ye, that from the stately brow
Of Windsor's heights th' expanse below

Of grove, of lawn, of mead survey,
Whose turf, whose shade, whose flowers among
Wanders the hoary Thames along

His silver-winding way:

IO

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Ah, happy hills! ah, pleasing shade!

Ah, fields belov'd in vain!
Where once my careless childhood stray'd,

A stranger yet to pain!
I feel the gales that from ye blow
A momentary bliss bestow,

As waving fresh their gladsome wing
My weary soul they seem to soothe,
And, redolent of joy and youth,

To breathe a second spring.

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Say, Father Thames, for thou hast seen

Full many a sprightly race
Disporting on thy margent green,

The paths of pleasure trace,

ON A DISTANT PROSPECT OF ETON COLLEGE 9

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Who foremost now delight to cleave
With pliant arm thy glassy wave?

The captive linnet which enthral?
What idle progeny succeed
To chase the rolling circle's speed,

Or urge the flying ball ?

30

While some on earnest business bent

Their murm'ring labours ply
'Gainst graver hours, that bring constraint

To sweeten liberty:
Some bold adventurers disdain
The limits of their little reign,

And unknown regions dare descry:
Still as they run they look behind,
They hear a voice in every wind,

And snatch a fearful joy.

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Gay hope is theirs by fancy fed,

Less pleasing when possest; The tear forgot as soon as shed,

The sunshine of the breast: Theirs buxom health of rosy hue, Wild wit, invention ever new,

And lively cheer of vigour born; The thoughtless day, the easy night, The spirits pure, the slumbers light,

That fly th' approach of morn.

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Alas! regardless of their doom

The little victims play;
No sense have they of ills to come,

Nor care beyond to-day:

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Yet see, how all around 'em wait
The ministers of human fate,

And black Misfortune's baleful train!
Ah, shew them where in ambush stand,
To seize their prey, the murth’rous band!

Ah, tell them, they are men!

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These shall the fury Passions tear,

The vultures of the mind,
Disdainful Anger, pallid Fear,

And Shame that skulk's behind;
Or pining Love shall waste their youth,
Or Jealousy with rankling tooth

That inly gnaws the secret heart;
And Envy wan, and faded Care,
Grim-visag'd comfortless Despair,

And Sorrow's piercing dart.

70

Ambition this shall tempt to rise,

Then whirl the wretch from high,
To bitter Scorn a sacrifice,

And grinning Infamy.
The stings of Falsehood those shall try,
And hard Unkindness' alter'd eye,

That mocks the tear it forc'd to flow;
And keen Remorse with blood defild,
And moody Madness laughing wild

Amid severest woe.

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80

Lo! in the vale of

years

beneath A grisly troop are seen, The painful family of Death,

More hideous than their queen:

ON THE DEATH OF A FAVOURITE CAT

11

85

This racks the joints, this fires the veins,
That every labouring sinew strains,

Those in the deeper vitals rage:
Lo! Poverty, to fill the band,
That numbs the soul with icy hand,

And slow-consuming Age.

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To each his suff'rings: all are men,

Condemn'd alike to groan;
The tender for another's pain,

Th' unfeeling for his own.
Yet, ah! why should they know their fate,
Since sorrow never comes too late,

And happiness too swiftly flies?
Thought would destroy their paradise.
No more;—where ignorance is bliss,

'Tis folly to be wise.

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ODE ON THE DEATH OF A FAVOURITE CAT

DROWNED IN A TUB OF GOLD FISHES

'Twas on a lofty vase's side,
Where China's gayest art had dy'd

The azure flowers that blow;
Demurest of the tabby kind,

The pensive Selima reclin'd,
Gaz'd on the lake below.

5

Her conscious tail her joy declar'd;
The fair round face, the snowy beard,

The velvet of her paws,

IO

Her coat, that with the tortoise vies,
Her ears of jet, and emerald eyes,

She saw; and purr'd applause.

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Still had she gaz'd; but ’midst the tide
Two angel forms were seen to glide,

The Genii of the stream:
Their scaly armour's Tyrian hue
Thro' richest purple to the view

Betray'd a golden gleam.

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The hapless Nymph with wonder saw:
A whisker first and then a claw,

With many an ardent wish,
She stretch'd in vain to reach the prize.
What female heart can gold despise ?

What Cat's averse to fish ?

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Presumptuous maid! with looks intent
Again she stretch'd, again she bent,

Nor knew the gulf between.
(Malignant Fate sat by, and smil'd.)
The slipp'ry verge her feet beguil'd,

She tumbled headlong in.

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Eight times emerging from the flood,
She mew'd to ev'ry wat'ry God,

Some speedy aid to send.
No Dolphin came, no Nereid stirr'd:
Nor cruel Tom, nor Susan heard.

A fav’rite has no friend!

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From hence, ye beauties, undeceiv'd,
Know, one false step is ne'er retriev'd,

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