Dost thou look back on what hath been,
      As some divinely gifted man,
      Whose life in low estate began
And on a simple village green;

Who breaks his birth's invidious bar,
      And grasps the skirts of happy chance,
      And breasts the blows of circumstance,
And grapples with his evil star;

Who makes by force his merit known
      And lives to clutch the golden keys,
      To mould a mighty state's decrees,
And shape the whisper of the throne;

And moving up from high to higher,
      Becomes on Fortune's crowning slope
      The pillar of a people's hope,
The centre of a world's desire;

Yet feels, as in a pensive dream,
      When all his active powers are still,
      A distant dearness in the hill,
A secret sweetness in the stream,

The limit of his narrower fate,
      While yet beside its vocal springs
      He play'd at counsellors and kings,
With one that was his earliest mate;

Who ploughs with pain his native lea
      And reaps the labour of his hands,
      Or in the furrow musing stands;
"Does my old friend remember me?"

Last modified 19 February 2010