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I care not, Fortune, what you me deny :
You cannot rob me of free Nature's

grace, You cannot shut the windows of the sky,

Through which Aurora' shows her brightening face;

You cannot bar my constant10 feet to trace
The woods and lawns, by living stream, at eve:

Let health my nerves and finer fibres brace,
And I their toys to the rich children leave;
Of fancy, reason, virtue, nought can me bereave.

52

THOMAS GRAY.-Born, 1716; Died, 1771

Thomas Gray was born in London, and educated at Eton and Cambridge. His life was spent mainly at the University, where he became Professor of Modern History. His poems, few in number, are all exquisitely finished and perfect in their kind, but, with the exception of the Elegy, are too classical for the popular taste. The Elegy, however, is in all respects one of the most cherished compositions in the language.

ELEGY WRITTEN IN A COUNTRY CHURCH-YARD.

The curfew' tolls the knell of parting day
The lowing herd winds slowly o'er the lea,
The ploughman homeward plods his weary way,
And leaves the world to darkness and to me.

9 Aurora, the morning.
10 “ My feet which are constant, or

devoted, to this pleasure."
i curfew, a bell still tolled from

some village churches at sunset.

It was originally tolled, by command of William the Conqueror, at 8 p.m., as the signal for all to cover their fire (couvre-feu, Fr.); that is, to put out all lights.

3

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 mopinga 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.
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 furrow oft the stubborn glebes has broke
How jocundo did they drive their team afield !
How bow'd the woods beneath their sturdy stroke!

4

7

? moping, sad, stupid.
3 Her solitude.
4 The fragrance of the flowers and

fields in the early morning is com

pared to incense. 5 twittering, making a succession

of sharp notes

GA clarion is a kind of shrill, clear

voiced trumpet. The crowing of

the cock is compared to its sound. ? the echoing horn of the hunts

man,
8 glebe, lit., soil.
9 jocund, merrily.

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,1° the pomp of power,
And all that beauty, all that wealth e'er gave,
Await alike th' inevitableli hour :-
The paths of glory lead but to the grave.

10

Nor you, ye Proud, impute to these the fault,
If Memory o'er their tomb no trophiesl2 raise,
Where through the long-drawn aisle and fretted vault13
The pealing anthem swells the note of praise.14

Can storied urn 15 or animated bust16
Back to its mansion call the fleeting breath ?
Can Honour's voice provoke the silent dust,
Or Flattery soothe the dull cold ear of Death ?

Perhaps in this neglected spot is laida?
Some heart once pregnant18 with celestial fire;
Hands, that the rod of empirel' might have sway'd,
Or waked to ecstacy the living lyre; 20

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10 The sounding titlos given by the

College of Heralds. 11 inevitable, that cannot be es

caped. 12 trophies, grand monuments. 13 fretted vault, arch with highly

ornamented roof. 14 These two lines refer to pompous

funerals in a cathedral. 15 storied urn, an urn on the fu

neral monument engraved with

the story of him who lies beneath. 16 animated bust, life-like statue

or bust. 17 The village church-yard. 18 Filled. 19 The rod of empire is the royal

sceptre; here used for “the

highest offices of the state." 20 As a great poet.

But Knowledge to their eyes her ample page,
Rich with the spoils of time, did ne'er unroll;
Chill Penury21 repress’d their noble rage, 22
And froze the genial current of the soul.23

Full many a gem of purest ray serene24
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,25 that with dauntless breast
The little tyrant of his fields withstood,
Some mute inglorious Milton” here may rest,
Some Cromwell,28 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 history in a nation's eyes

Their lot forbade: nor circumscribed30 alone
Their growing virtues, but their crimes confined;
Forbade to wade through slaughter to a throne,
And shut the gates of mercy on mankind;

a

26 dauntless, fearless.
27 Milton, author of

" Paradise

Lost.”

21 Penury, poverty.
22 noble rage, here, entbusiasm.
23 Poverty prevented them carrying

out the noble and healthful wishes
of their heart and intelect, as

frost binds up the bright stream. 24 serene, clear. 25 Hampden was the first to resist

the illegal taxes of Charles the First,

28 Oliver Cromwell. Gray here

supposes him to have cause l the civil wars. But this is open to

question. 29 senates, parliaments. 30 circumscribed, shut in within

confined limits.

The struggling pangs of conscious truth to hide,
To quench the blushes of ingenuous31 shame,
Or heap the shrine of Luxury and Pride
With incense kindled at the Muse's flame.32

Far from the madding crowd's ignoble strife,
Their sober wishes never learn’d to stray;
Along the cool sequester'd38 vale of life
They kept the noiseless tenour34 of their way.
Yet, e’en these bones from insult to protect,
Some frail memorial35 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 elegy36 supply:
And many a holy text37 around she strews,
That teach the rustic moralist to die.

For who, to dumb forgetfulness a prey,
This pleasing, anxious, being, e'er resign'd,
Left the warm precincts of the cheerful day,38
Nor cast one longing lingering look behind ?
On some fond breast the parting soul relies,
Some pious drops the closing eye requires;

31 ingenuous, frank, free from de

ception. 32 Or heap, &c. "Or flatter the rich

and proud with fulsome praise in verse, as if they were gods, at whose shrine such incense might

be burned."
33 sequestered, retired, secluded.

34 Continuous course.
35 Some humble tombstone.
36 elegy, lament.
37 On the tombstone.
38 “ Left," &c. Passed from the light

of the sun to the darkness of the
grave. Precincts, bounds.

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