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CLXXXVII ELEGY WRITTEN IN A COUNTRY
CHURCHYARD The curfew tolls the knell of parting day, The lowing herd wind 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. 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. Óft did the harvest to their sickle yield, Their furrow 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
power, And all that beauty, all that wealth e'er gave Await alike th' 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 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 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 laid Some heart once pregnant with celestial fire ; Hands, that the rod of empire might have sway'), Or waked to extasy 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. Th’applause of listening 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 forbad: nor circumscribed alone Their growing virtues, but their crimes confined ; Forbad to wade thro' slaughter to a throne, And shut the gates of mercy on mankind;
The struggling pangs of conscious truth to hide,
Hard by yon wood, now smiling as in scorn,
One morn I miss'd him on the custom'd hill,
THE EPITAPH Here rests his head upon the lap of earth A youth, to fortune and to fame unknown ; Fair science frown'd not on his humble birth And melancholy mark'd him for her own. Large was his bounty, and his soul sincere ; Heaven did a recompense as largely send : He gave to misery (all he had) a tear, He gain'd from Heaven ('twas all he wish'd) a friend. No farther seek his merits to disclose, Or draw his frailties from their dread abode, (There they alike in trembling hope repose,) The bosom of his Father and his God.
O Mary, at thy window be,
Yestreen when to the trembling string
O saw ye bonnie Lesley
As she gaed o'er the border ? She's gane, like Alexander,
To spread her conquests farther.
And love but her for ever ;
And ne'er made sic anither!
Thy subjects we, before thee; Thou art divine, Fair Lesley,
The hearts o' men adore thee. The Deil he could na scaith thee,
Or aught that wad belang thee; He'd look into thy bonnie face,
And say 'I canna wrang thee !'