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ELEGY,
Written in a Country Church-yard.

BY GRAY.
The curfew tolls the knell of parting day,

The lowing herd winds slowly o'er the lea,
"The plowman homeward plods bis weary way,

And leaves the world to darkness and to me.

Now fades the glimmering landscape on the sight,

And all the air a solenn stillness holds,
Save where the beetle wheels his drony flight,

And drowsy tinklings lull the distant folds;

Save that, from yonder ivy wantled tow's,

The moping owl does to the moon complain Of such as, wandering near her secret bow'r,

Molest her ancient, solitary reign. .

Beneath those rugged elms, that yew-tree's shade,

Where heaves the turf in many a mould'ring heap, Each in his narrow cell for ever laid,

The rude forefathers of the hamlet sleep.

The breezy call of incense-breathing inorn,'

The swallow twitt'ring from the straw-built shed, The cock's shrill clarion, or the echoing horn, · No more shall rouse them from their lowly bed.

For them no more the blazing hearth shall burii,

Or busy housewife ply her evening care; No children run to lisp their sire's return,

Or climb his knee the envied kiss to share.

Oft did the harvest to their sickle yield,

Their furrow oft the stubborn glebe has broke; How jocund did they drive their team a-field!

How bow'd the woods beneath their sturdy stroke!

Let not ambition mock their useful toil,

Their homely joys, and destiny obscure; Nor Grandeur hear with a disdainful smile

The short and simple annals of the poor.

The boast of heraldry, the pomp of pow'r,

And all that beauty, all that wealth e'er gave, Await alike th’ineritable hour;

The paths of glory lead but to the grave.

Nor you, ye proud, impute to these the fault, :

If mem'ry o'er their tomb no trophies raise, Where through the long-drawn aisle and fretted vault

The pealing anthem swells the note of praise.

Can storied urn or animated bust

Back to its mansion call ibe fleeting breath? Can Honour's voice provoke the silent dust,

Or Flatt'ry sooth the dull cold car of Death?

Perhaps in this neglected spot is laid

Some heart once pregnant with celestial fire; Hands that the rod of empire might have sway'd,

Or wak'd to ecstacy the living lyre.

But Knowledge to their eyes her ample page,

Rich with the spoils of time, did ne'er unroll; Chill Penury repress'd their noble rage,

And froze the genial current of the soul.

Full many a gem, of purest ray serene,

The dark unfathom’d cares of ocean bear: Full many a flower is born to blush unseen,

And waste its sweetness in the desert air,

Some village Hampden, that, with dauntless breast,

The little tyrant of his fields willistood; Some mute inglorious Milton here may rest,

Some Cromwell, guiltless of his country's blood.

Th’applause of list'ning senates to command,

The threats of pain and ruin to despise, To scatter plenty o'er a smiling land,

And read their hist'ry in a nation's eyes,

Their lot forbade; nor circumscrib'd alone

Their growing virtues, but their crimes confin'd; Forbade 10 wade through slaughter to a throne,

And shut the gates of mercy on mankind :

The struggling pangs of conscious truth to hide,

To quench the blushes of ingenuous shame, Or heap the shrine of luxury and pride

With incense kindled at the Muse's flame.

Far from the madding crowd's ignoble strife,

Their sober wishes never learn’d to stray; Along the cool sequester'd vale of life

They kept the noiseless tenour of their way.

Yet e'en these bones from insult to protect

Some frail memorial, still erected nigh, With uncouth rhymes and shapeless sculpture deck’d,

Implores the passing tribute of a sigh.

Their name, their years, spelt by th’unletter'd Muse,

The place of Fame and Elegy supply: And many a holy text around she strews,

That teach the rustic muralist to die.

For who, to dunub forgetfulness a prey,

This pleasing anxious being e'er resign'd, Left the warm precincts of the cheerful day,

Nor cast one longing, ling’ring look behind!

On some fond breast the parting soul relies,

Some pious drops the closing eye requires; E’en from the tomb the voice of nature cries,

E'en in our ashes live their wonted fires,

For thee who, mindful of th’unhonoured dead,

Dost in these lines their artless tale relate, If chance, by lonely Contemplation led,

Some kindred Spirit shall enquire thy fate;

Haply some hoary-headed swain may say,

Oft have we seen him at the peep of dawn Brushing with hasty steps the views away,

To meet the sun upon the upland lawn.

“There, at the foot of yonder nodding beech,

That wreathes its old fantastic roots so high, His listless length at noontide would he stretch,

And pore upon the brook that babbles by.

* Hard by yon wood, now smiling as in scorn,

Mutt'ring his wayward fancies, he would rove, Now drooping, woeful wan, like one forlorn,

Or craz'd with care, or cross'd in hopeless love.

“One morn I miss'd him on th’accustom'd hill,

Along the heath and near his favourite tree; Another came; nor yet beside the rill,

Nor up the lawn, nor at the wood was he:

“The next, with dirges due, in sad array,

Slow through the church-way path we saw him borne. Approach, and read (for thou canst read) the lay

Gravid on the stone beneath yon aged thorn;"

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