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Memory

    O MEMORY, thou fond deceiver,
    Still importunate and vain,
    To former joys recurring ever,
    And turning all the past to pain:

    Thou, like the world, th' oppress'd oppressing,
    Thy smiles increase the wretch's woe:
    And he who wants each other blessing
    In thee must ever find a foe.

    Oliver Goldsmith

The Hermit

    TURN, gentle Hermit of the dale,
    And guide my lonely way,
    To where yon taper cheers the vale
    With hospitable ray.

    For here forlorn and lost I tread,
    With fainting steps and slow,
    Where wilds, immeasurably spread,
    Seem length'ning as I go."

    "Forbear, my son," the Hermit cries,
    "To tempt the dangerous gloom;
    For yonder faithless phantom flies
    To lure thee to thy doom.

    "Here to the houseless child of want
    My door is open still;
    And though my portion is but scant,
    I give it with good will.

    "Then turn to-night, and freely share
    Whate'er my cell bestows;
    My rushy couch and frugal fare,
    My blessing and repose.

    "No flocks that range the valley free,
    To slaughter I condemn;
    Taught by that Power that pities me,
    I learn to pity them;

    "But from the mountain's grassy side,
    A guiltless feast I bring;
    A script with herbs and fruits supplied,
    And water from the spring.

    "Then, pilgrim, turn, thy cares forego
    All earth-born cares are wrong:
    Man wants but little here below,
    Nor wants that little long."

    Soft as the dew from heaven descends,
    His gentle accents fall:
    The modest stranger lowly bends,
    And follows to the cell.

    Far in the wilderness obscure,
    The lonely mansion lay,
    A refuge to the neighb'ring poor,
    And strangers led astray.

    No stores beneath its humble thatch
    Required a master's care;
    The wicket, opening with a latch,
    Received the harmless pair.

    And now, when busy crowds retire
    To take their evening rest,
    The Hermit trimm'd his little fire,
    And cheer'd his pensive guest:

    And spread his vegetable store,
    And gaily press'd and smiled;
    And skill'd in legendary lore,
    The lingering hours beguiled.

    Around, in sympathetic mirth,
    Its tricks the kitten tries,
    The cricket chirrups on the hearth,
    The crackling fagot flies.

    But nothing could a charm impart
    To soothe the stranger's woe;
    For grief was heavy at his heart,
    And tears began to flow.

    His rising cares the Hermit spied,
    With answering care oppress'd;
    And, "Whence, unhappy youth," he cried,
    "The sorrows of thy breast?

    "From better habitations spurn'd,
    Reluctant dost thou rove?
    Or grieve for friendship unreturn'd,
    Or unregarded love?

    "Alas! the joys that fortune brings,
    Are trifling, and decay;
    And those who prize the paltry things,
    More trifling still than they.

    "And what is friendship but a name,
    A charm that lulls to sleep;
    A shade that follows wealth or fame,
    But leaves the wretch to weep?

    "And love is still an emptier sound,
    The modern fair one's jest;
    On earth unseen, or only found
    To warm the turtle's nest.

    "For shame, fond youth, thy sorrows hush,
    And spurn the sex," he said;
    But while he spoke, a rising blush
    His love-lorn guest betray'd.

    Surprised, he sees new beauties rise,
    Swift mantling to the view;
    Like colors o'er the morning skies,
    As bright, as transient too.

    The bashful look, the rising breast,
    Alternate spread alarms:
    The lovely stranger stands confess'd,
    A maid in all her charms.

    And, "Ah! forgive a stranger rude--
    A wretch, forlorn," she cried;
    "Whose feet unhallow'd thus intrude
    Where heaven and you reside.

    "But let a maid thy pity share,
    Whom love has taught to stray;
    Who seeks for rest, but finds despair
    Companion of her way.

    "My father lived beside the Tyne,
    A wealthy lord was he:
    And all his wealth was mark's as mine,
    He had but only me.

    "To win me from his tender arms,
    Unnumber'd suitors came,
    Who praised me for imputed charms,
    And felt, or feign'd, a flame.

    "Each hour a mercenary crowd
    With richest proffers strove;
    Amongst the rest young Edwin bow'd,
    But never talk'd of love.

    In humble, simplest habit clad,
    No wealth nor power had he;
    Wisdom and worth were all he had,
    But these were all to me.

    "And when, beside me in the dale,
    He caroll'd lays of love,
    His breath lent fragrance to the gale,
    And music to the grove.

    "The blossom opening to the day,
    The dews of heaven refined,
    Could nought of purity display
    To emulate his mind.

    "The dew, the blossom on the tree,
    With charms inconstant shine;
    Their charms were his, but, woe to me
    Their constancy was mine.

    "For still I tried each fickle art,
    Importunate and vain;
    And while his passion touch'd my heart,
    I triumph'd in his pain;

    "Till quite dejected with my scorn,
    He left me to my pride;
    And sought a solitude forlorn,
    In secret, where he died.

    "But mine the sorrow, mine the fault,
    And well my life shall pay;
    I'll seek the solitude he sought,
    And stretch me where he lay.

    "And there forlorn, despairing, hid,
    I'll lay me down and die;
    'Twas so for me that Edwin did,
    And so for him will I."

    "Forbid it, Heaven!" the Hermit cried,
    And clasp'd her to his breast;
    The wondering fair one turn'd to chide--
    'Twas Edwin's self that press'd!

    "Turn, Angelina, ever dear,
    My charmer, turn to see
    Thy own, thy long-lost Edwin here,
    Restored to love and thee.

    "Thus let me hold thee to my heart,
    And every care resign:
    And shall we never, never part,
    My life -- my all that's mine.

    "No, never from this hour to part
    We'll live and love so true,
    The sigh that rends thy constant heart
    Shall break thy Edwin's, too."

    Oliver Goldsmith

An Elegy on the Death of a Mad Dog

    GOOD people all, of every sort,
    Give ear unto my song,
    And if you find it wondrous short,
    It cannot hold you long.

    In Islington there was a man,
    Of whom the world might say,
    That still a godly race he ran,
    Whene'er he went to pray.

    A kind and gentle heart he had,
    To comfort friends and foes;
    The naked every day he clad,
    When he put on his clothes.

    And in that town a dog was found,
    As many dogs there be,
    Both mongrel, puppy, whelp, and hound,
    And curs of low degree.

    This dog and man at first were friends;
    But when a pique began,
    The dog, to gain his private ends,
    Went mad, and bit the man.

    Around from all the neighboring streets
    The wond'ring neighbors ran,
    And swore the dog had lost his wits,
    To bite so good a man.

    The wound it seem'd both sore and sad
    To every Christian eye;
    And while they swore the dog was mad,
    They swore the man would die.

    But soon a wonder came to light,
    That show'd the rogues they lied:
    The man recover'd of the bite --
    The dog it was that died.

    Oliver Goldsmith

When Lovely Woman Stoops to Folly

    WHEN lovely woman stoops to folly,
      And finds too late that men betray,
    What charm can soothe her melancholy,
      What art can wash her guilt away?

    The only art her guilt to cover,
      To hide her shame from every eye,
    To give repentance to her lover,
      And wring his bosom--is to die.

    Oliver Goldsmith

Parson Gray

    A QUIET home had Parson Gray,
    Secluded in a vale;
    His daughters all were feminine,
    And all his sons were male.

    How faithfully did Parson Gray
    The bread of life dispense--
    Well "posted" in theology,
    And post and rail his fence.

    'Gainst all the vices of the age
    He manfully did battle;
    His chickens were a biped breed,
    And quadruped his cattle.

    No clock more punctually went,
    He ne'er delayed a minute--
    Nor ever empty was his purse,
    When he had money in it.

    His piety was ne'er denied;
    His truths hit saint and sinner;
    At morn he always breakfasted;
    He always dined at dinner.

    He ne'er by any luck was grieved,
    By any care perplexed--
    No filcher he, though when he preached,
    He always "took" a text.

    As faithful characters he drew
    As mortal ever saw;
    But ah! poor parson! when he died,
    His breath he could not draw!

    Oliver Goldsmith


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