« AnteriorContinuar »
So perish all, whose breast ne'er learnt to glow
What can atone (oh ever-injur'd shade !)
So peacesul rests, without a stone, a name,
Poets themselves must fall, like those they sung,
But of Elegies on the subject of death, this by Mr. Gray is one of the best that has appeared in our language, and may be justly esteem'd a masterpiece.
Elegy. Written in a country cliunh-yari.
Tha-curseu tolls the knell of parting day,
The plowman homeward plods his weary way,
Now fades the glimmering landscape On the sight,
Save where the beetle wheels his droning flight,
Save that from yonder ivy-mantled tow'r
Of such as, wand'ring near her secret bow'r,
Beneath those rugged elms, that yew-tree's shade,
Each in his narrcw cell for ever laid,
The rude fore fathers of the hamlet fleep.
The breezy call of incense-breathing morn,
The swallow twitt'ring from the straw-built shed,
The cock's shrill clarion, or the echoing horn,
For them no more the blazing hearth shall burn,
-No children run to lisp their sire's return,
Oft did the harvest to their sickle yield,
How jocund did they drive their team a sield!
How bow'd the woods beneath their sturdy stroke!
Let not ambition mock their usesul toil,
Nor grandeur hear with a disdainsul smile,
The boast of heraldry, the pomp of pow'r,
Awaits alike th' inevitable hour,
The paths of glory lead but to the grave.
Forgive, ye proud, th' involuntary fault,
If memory to these no trophies raise, Where through the long-drawn ifle and fretted vault
The pealing anthem swells the notes of praise.
Can storied urn, or animated bust,
Back to its mansion call the fleeting breath?
Can honour's voice provoke the silent dust,
Perhaps in this neglected spot is laid
Some heart once pregnant with celestial sire,
Hands that the reins of empire might have sway'd,
But knowledge to their eyes her ample page,
Chill penury repress'd their noble rage,
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,
Some vilhge-Hamjidca, that with dauntless breast
Some mute inglorious Mi/ton here may rest,
Th' applause os list'ning senates to command,
To scatter plenty o'er a smiling land,
Their lot forbad; nor circumferib'd alone
Their growing virtues, but their crimes consin'd;
Forbad to wade through flaughter to a throne,
The struggling pangs of conscious truth to hide,
Or heap the lhrine of luxury and pride
Far from the madding crowd's ignoble strise,
Along the cool sequester'd vale of life
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 pasting tribute of a sigh.
Their name, their years, spelt by th' 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.
For who to dumb forgetsulness a prey,
Left the warm precincts of the chearsul day,
On some fond breast the parting foul relies,
Ev'n from the tomb the voice of nature cries,
For thee, who mindsul of th' unhonour'd dead
If chance, by lonely contemplation led,
Haply, some hbary-headed swain may fay,
* Brushing with hasty steps the dews away,
« There at the soot of yonder nodding 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.
« Hard by yon wood, now smiling as in scorn, * Mutt'ring his wayward fancies he would love,
« Now drooping, woesul wan, like one forlorn, « Or craz'd with care, or cross'd in hopeless love,
One morn I miss'd him on th' accustom'd hill, « Alor^ the heath, and near his fav'rite tree; « Another came; nor yet beside the rill,
* Nor up the lawn, nor at the wood was he.
« The next with dirges due in fad array,
« Slow through the church-way path we faw him borne. « Approach and read (for thou can'st read) the lay,
< Grav'd on the stone beneath yon aged thorn.
« There scatter'd oft, the earliest of the year,
'By hands unseen, are show'rs of violets found; « The red-breast loves to build and warble there,
< And little foosteps lightly print the ground.
* Here rests his head upon the lap of earth
'A youth to sortune 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 foul sincere, 1 Heav'n did a recompence as largely send:
* He gave to mis'ry (all he had) a tear:
« He gain'd from heav'n ftwas 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.'
We have already observed that any dreadsul catastrophe is a proper subject for Elegy; and what can be more so than a civil war, where the fathers and children, the dearest relations and friends, meet each other in arms? We have on this subject a most a!fecting Elegy, intituled the Tears of Scotland, ascribed to Dr. Strullet, and set to music by Mr. Oswald, just after the late rebellion.
The Tears of Scotland. Written in th Tear 1746.
Mourn, hapless Caledonia, mourn