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IV. ELEGY WRITTEN IN A COUNTRY CHURCH-YARD.
Thomas Gray was born in Cornhill, London, in 1716, and died in 1771. His Elegy, The Progress of Poesy, and The Bard, secure him undying fame.
THE Curfew tolls the knell of parting day;
The lowing herd winds slowly o'er the lea;
Now fades the glimmering landscape on the sight,
Save that, from yonder ivy-mantled tower,
Beneath these rugged elms, that yew-tree's shade,
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,
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 glebe has broke:
How bowed the woods beneath their sturdy stroke!
Let not ambition mock their useful toil,
The boast of heraldry, the pomp of power,
The paths of glory lead but to the grave!
Nor you, ye proud, impute to these the fault,
If memory o'er their tombs 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?
Perhaps, in this neglected spot, is laid
Some heart once pregnant with celestial fire; Hands that the rod of empire might have swayed, Or waked to ecstasy the living lyre:
But knowledge to their eyes her ample page,
Chill penury repressed their noble rage,
Full many a gem of purest ray serene,
The dark unfathomed 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 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 forbade: nor circumscribed alone
Their glowing virtues, but their crimes confined,— Forbade to wade through slaughter to a throne, And shut the gates of mercy on mankind;
The struggling pangs of conscious truth to hide;
With incense kindled at the muse's flame.
Far from the madd'ning crowd's ignoble strife,
They kept the noiseless tenor of their way!
Yet even these bones from insult to protect,
Their name, their years, spelled by the unlettered
The place of fame and elegy supply; And many a holy text around she strews, To teach the rustic moralist to die.
For who, to dumb Forgetfulness a prey,
This pleasing, anxious being e'er resignedLeft the warm precincts of the cheerful day, Nor cast one longing, lingering look behind?
On some fond breast the parting soul relies,
For thee, who mindful of the unhonoured dead,
Some kindred spirit shall inquire thy fate;
Haply some hoary-headed swain may say—
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 bubbles by.
Hard by yon wood, now smiling as in scorn, Muttering his wayward fancies, he would rove; Now drooping, woful, wan, like one forlorn,
Or crazed with care, or crossed in hopeless love!
One morn I missed him on the accustomed hill,
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, Graved on the stone beneath yon aged thorn."
V.-NAPOLEON'S LAST REQUEST.
АH! bury me deep in the boundless sea,
And as far from the reach of mortal control
Then my briny pall shall engirdle the world,
And each mutinous billow that skyward curls
That name shall be storied in record sublime,
And renowned till the wreck of expiring time,
Yes, bury my heart in the boundless sea,-
VI.-HYMN IN THE VALE OF CHAMOUNI.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge, one of the most profound of English thinkers, was born in Devonshire in 1772. He died in 1834.
HAST thou a charm to stay the morning star
The Arvé and Arveiron at thy base
Rave ceaselessly; but thou, most awful Form!
O dread and silent Mount! I gazed upon thee,
Didst vanish from my thought: entranced in prayer
Yet, like some sweet beguiling melody,