Verse > William Wordsworth > Complete Poetical Works
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A POET'S EPITAPH

          ART thou a Statist in the van
          Of public conflicts trained and bred?
          --First learn to love one living man;
          'Then' may'st thou think upon the dead.

          A Lawyer art thou?--draw not nigh!
          Go, carry to some fitter place
          The keenness of that practised eye,
          The hardness of that 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.

          Or art thou one of gallant pride,
          A Soldier and no man of chaff?
          Welcome!--but lay thy sword aside,
          And lean upon a peasant's staff.

          Physician art thou? one, all eyes,
          Philosopher! a fingering slave,
          One that would peep and botanise
          Upon his mother's grave?                                    20

          Wrapt closely in thy sensual fleece,
          O turn aside,--and take, I pray,
          That he below may rest in peace,
          Thy ever-dwindling soul, away!

          A Moralist perchance appears;
          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 or small;                      30
          A reasoning, self-sufficing 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
          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 noon-day grove;
          And you must love him, ere to you
          He will seem worthy of your love.

          The outward shows of sky and earth,
          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 enjoy
          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
                                                              1799.


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