« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
Now fades the glimmering landscape on the sight,
And all the air a solemn stillness holds,
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.
Oft 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 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 through the long-drawn aisle and fretted va a!t
The pealing anthem swells the note of praise.
Can storied urn, or animated bust,
Back to its mansion call the fleeting breath? Can honor'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 swayed.
Or waked to ecstasy the living lyre:
Rich with the spoils of time did ne'er unroll;
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 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 through slaughter to a throne,
And shut the gates of mercy on mankind, The struggling pangs of conscience 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 sequestered vale of life
They kept the noiseless tenor 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 the unletter'd Muse,
The place of fame and elegy supply: And many a holy test, 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,
Nor cast one longing lingering 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 the unhonour'd dead,
Dost in these lines their artless tale relate; If chance, by lonely contemplation led,
Some kindred spirit shall inquire 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 nodding beech,
That wreathes its old fantastic roots so high, His listless length at noontide would be stretch,
And pore upon the brook that babbles by. “ Hard by yon wood, now smiling as in scorn,
Muttering his wayward fancies would he rove; Now drooping, woful-wan, like one forlorn,
Or crazed with care, or cross'd in hopeless love.
“One morn I miss'd him on the custom'd hill,
Along the heath, and near his favorite tree; Another came; nor yet beside the rill,
Nor up the lawn, nor at the wood was he:
6. The next, with dirges due in sad array
Slow through the churchway path we saw him bornp. Approach and read (for thou can’st read) the lay
Graved on the stone beneath yon aged thorn.”
Here rests his head upon the lap of earth
A youth, to fortune and to fame unknown:
And melancholy marked him for her own.
Heaven did a recompense as largely send :
He gain'd from heaven ('twas all he wished) a friend
Or draw his frailties from their dread abode,
The bosom of his Father and his God.
In Gray's first M.S. of the “Elegy," after the eighteenth stanza, (nding with the word “flame,” were the four following stanzas :
The thoughtless world to majesty may bow,
Exalt the brave, and idolize success;
Than power or genius e'er conspired to bless.
And thou who, mindful of the unhonour'd dead,
Dost in these notes their artless tale relate,
To wander in the gloomy walks of fate:
Hark! how the sacred calm, that breathes around,
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.
Here the poem was originally intended to conclude. After the twenty-fifth stanza, ending with the word “lawn," was the following stanza :
Him have we seen the greenwood side along,
While o’er the heath we hied, our labor done,
With wistful eyes pursue the setting sun. And in some of the first editions, immediately before “The Epitaph,” was the following stanza :
There scatter'd oft, the earliest of the year,
By hands unseen, are showers of violets found;
And little footsteps lightly print the ground.
THE CRY OF THE HUMAN. “There is no God,” the foolish saith,
6. There is no sorrow;
In bitter need will borrow :
By wayside graves are raised;
“God be pitiful,”
Be pitiful, O God!
The tempest stretches from the steep
The shadow of its coming –
As help were in the human
We spirits tremble under !
Be pitiful, o God!
Earth feels new scythes upon her:
And call the harvest . . honor,-
One image all inherit,
Be pitiful, O God!
The plague runs festering through the town,
And never a bell is tolling;