`Were I a Poet, I would dwell,
Not upon lonely height,
Nor cloistered in disdainful cell
From human sound and sight.
I would live nestled near my kind,
Deep in a garden garth,
That they who loved my verse might find
A pathway to my hearth.
`I would not sing of sceptred Kings,
The Tyrant and his thrall,
But everyday pathetic things,
That happen to us all:
The love that lasts through joy, through grief,
The faith that never wanes,
And every wilding bird and leaf
That gladdens English lanes.
`Nor would I shape for Fame my lay,
But only for the sake
Of singing, and to charm away
My own or other’s ache;
To close the wound, to soothe the smart,
To heal the feud of years,
And move the misbelieving heart
To tenderness and tears.
`And when to me should come the night,
And I could sing no more,
And faithful lips could but recite
What I had sung before,
I would not have a pompous strain
Resound about my shroud,
Nor sepulchre in sumptuous fane,
Near to the great and proud.
`But only they who loved me best
Should bear me and my lyre,
And lay us, with my kin, at rest
Under the hamlet spire,
Where everything around still breathes
Of prayer that soothes and saves,
And widowed hands bear cottage wreaths
To unforgotten graves.
`And they might raise another cross
Within that hallowed ground,
And tend the flowers and trim the moss
About my grassy mound;
But, honouring me, would carve above
No impious boast of Fame,
And, not for Glory, but for Love,
Would keep alive my name.’