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A simple muster-roll of death,
Of pomp and romance shorn, The dry, old names that common breath
Has cheapened and outworn.
Yet pause by one low mound, and part
The wild vines o'er it laced, And read the words by rustic art
Upon its headstone traced.
Haply yon white-haired villager
Of fourscore years can say
Who sleeps with common clay.
An exile from the Gascon land
Found refuge here and rest, And loved, of all the village band,
Its fairest and its best.
He knelt with her on Sabbath morn,
He worshipped through her eyes, And on the pride that doubts and scorns
Stole in her faith's surprise.
Her simple daily life he saw
By homeliest duties tried,
Of fitness justified.
For her his rank aside he laid ;
He took the hue and tone
Her simple ways his own.
Yet still, in gay and careless ease,
To harvest-field or dance
The nameless grace of France.
And she who taught him love not less
From him she loved in turn Caught in her sweet unconsciousness
What love is quick to learn.
Each grew to each in pleased accord,
Nor knew the gazing town
Or he to her looked down.
How sweet, when summer's day was o'er,
His violin's mirth and wail, The walk on pleasant Newbury's shore,
The river's moonlit sail !
Ah ! life is brief, though love be long;
The altar and the bier,
Were both in one short year!
Her rest is quiet on the hill,
Beneath the locust's bloom ; Far off her lover sleeps as still
Within his scutcheoned tomb.
The Gascon lord, the village maid,
In death still clasp their hands ; The love that levels rank and grade
Unites their severed lands.
What matter whose the hillside grave,
Or whose the blazoned stone ? Forever to her western wave
Shall whisper blue Garonne !
O Love ! — so hallowing every soil
That gives thy sweet flower room, Wherever, nursed by ease or toil,
The human heart takes bloom !
Plant of lost Eden, from the sod
Of sinful earth unriven,
Dropped down to us from heaven! —
This tangled waste of mound and stone
Is holy for thy sake ;
Breathes out from fern and brake.
And while ancestral pride shall twine
The Gascon's tomb with flowers, Fall sweetly here, O song of mine,
With summer's bloom and showers !
And let the lines that severed seem
Unite again in thee,
Are mingled in one sea !