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And so God save our noble King,
And guard us from long-winded lubbers, That to eternity would sing,
And keep my Lady from her rubbers.
WRITTEN IN A COUNTRY CHURCH-YARD.
The curfew tolls the knell of parting day, *
The lowing berd winds slowly o’er the lea, The ploughman homeward plods his weary way,
And leaves the world to darkness and to me.
Now fades the glimmering landscape on the sight,
And all the air a solemn stillness holds, Save where the beetle wheels his droning flight,
And drowsy tinklings lull the distant folds.
Save that from yonder ivy-mantled tower,
The moping owl does to the moon complain Of such as, wandering near her secret bower,
Molest her ancient solitary reign.
Beneath those rugged elms, that yew-tree's shade, Where heaves the turf in many a mouldering
heap, Each in his narrow cell for ever laid,
The rude Forefathers of the hamlet sleep.
squilla di lontano
Dante Purgai. 1.8.
The breezy call of incense-breathing morn,
The swallow twittering 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 burn,
Or busy housewife ply her evening care : No children run to lisp their sire's return,
Or climb his knees the envied kiss to share.
Oft did the harvest to their sickle yield,
Their harrow oft the stubborn glebe has broke : How jocund did they drive their team afield !
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 power,
And all that beauty, all that wealth e'er gave, Await alike the inevitable hour.
The paths of glory lead but to the grave.
Nor you, ye Proud, impute to these the fault,
If Memory o’er their tomb no trophies raise, Where thro’ 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 the fleeting breath? Can Honour's voice provoke the silent dust,
Or Flattery sooth the dull cold ear 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 caves of ocean bear : Full many a flower is born to blush unseen,
And waste its sweetness on the desert air.
Some village Hampden, that, with dauntless breast,
The little tyrant of his fields withstood, Some mute inglorious Milton here may rest,
Some Cromwell guiltless of his country's blood.
The' 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 history in a nation's eyes,
Their lot forbade : nor circumscrib'd alone
Their growing virtues, but their crimes confin'd; Forbade to 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 sequesterd vale of life
They kept the noiseless tenor of their way.
Yet ev'n 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 the’unletter'd Muse,
The place of fame and elegy supply: And many a holy text around she strews,
That teach the rustic moralist to die.
• Between this and the preceding stanza, in Mr. Gray's first MS. of the Poem, were the four following:The thoughtless world to Majesty may bow,
Exalt the brave, and idolize success;
Than Pow'r or Genius e'er conspir'd to bless.
Dost in these notes their artless tale relate,
To wander in the gloomy walks of fate:
Bids every fierce tumultuous passion cease;
A grateful earnest of eternal peace.
No more, with reason and thyself at strife,
Give anxious cares and endless wishes room;
Pursue the silent tenor of thy doom. And here the Poem was originally intended to conclude, before the happy idea of the hoary-headed swain, &c. suggested itself to him.
For who, to dumb forgetfulness a prey,
This pleasing anxious being e'er resign'd, Left the warm precincts of the cheerful day,
Nor cast one longing lingering look behind?
On some fond breast the parting soul relies,
Some pious drops the closing eye requires; Ev’n from the tomb the voice of Nature cries,
Ev’n in our ashes* live their wonted fires.f
For thee, who, mindful of the' unhonour'd 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 dews away,
To meet the sun upon the upland lawn,
“There at the foot of yonder noclding beech,
That wreathes its old fantastic roots so high, His listless length at noon-tide would he stretch,
And pore upon the brook that babbles by.
• Ch'i veggio nel pensier, dolce mio fuoco,
Fredda una lingua, et due begli occhi chiusi
Petrarch, Son. 169.
Variation :-On the high brow of yonder hanging lawn. After which, in the first manuscript, followed this stanza : Him have we seen the greenwood side along,
While o'er the hearh we hied, our Jabour done,
With wistful eyes pursue the setting sun.