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No zephyr fondly sues the mountain's breast,
Yet still, e’en here, content can spread a charm, Redress the clime, and all its rage disarm, Though poor the peasant's hut, his feasts though
small, He sees his little lot the lot of all; Sees no contiguous palace rear its head, To shame the meanness of his humble shed; No costly lord the sumptuous banquet deal, To make him loathe his vegetable meal ; But calm, and bred in ignorance and toil, Each wish contracting, fits him for the soil : Cheerful at morn, he wakes from short repose, Breathes the keen air, and carols as he goes ; With patient angle trolls the finny deep, Or drives his venturous ploughshare to the
steep; Or seeks the den where snow-tracks mark the
way, And drags the struggling savage into day. At night returning, every labour sped, He sits him down, the monarch of a shed; Smiles by his cheerful fire, and round surveys His children's looks, that brighten at the blaze ; While his loved partner, boastful of her hoard, Displays her cleanly platter on the board; And haply, too, some pilgrim thither led, With many a tale repays the nightly bed.
Thus every good his native wilds impart Imprints the patriot passion on his heart; And e'en those ills that round his mansion rise, Enhance the bliss his scanty fund supplies Dear is that shed to which his soul conforms, And dear that hill which lifts him to the storms: And, as a child, when scaring sounds molest, Cling close and closer to the mother's breast, So the loud torrent, and the whirlwind's roar, But bind him to his native mountains more.
PRINCIPAL WRITINGS:- Elegy written in a Country Churchyard.
Odes: -The Progress of Poesy; The Bard.
The curfewł 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.
* This refers to the churchyard of Stoke, in Buckinghamshire, the neighbourhood of which Gray spent much of his early life. It was here the Poet was buried.
CURFEW.-In feudal times the ringing of the bell at eight o'clock was the signal to cover or put out all fires. It means here the decline of the day.
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, wand'ring near her secret bower,
Molest her ancient solitary reign.
Beneath those rugged elms, that yew-tree's shade,
Where heaves theturfin many amould'ring 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 twitt’ring 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 stubhorn glebe has broke ; How jocund did they drive their team a-field !
How bowed 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 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 swayed,
Or waked to ecstasy the living lyre:
But Knowledge to their eyes her ample page,
Rich with the spoils of time, did ne'er unroll; Chill Penury repressed their noble rage,
And froze the genial current of the soul.
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 I 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 circumscrib'd alone
Their growing 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,
To quench the blushes of ingenuous shame, Or heap the shrine of Luxury and Pride
With incense kindled at the Muse's flame.'
* HAMPDEN.-A celebrated patriot who lived in the reign of Charles I. He resisted the payment of ship money.
MILTON, the Poet, was born in London, A.D., 1608, died 1674. He was Secretary to Cromwell, and wrote in defence of the CommonWealth,
I CROMWELL, Lord Protector of England. Born A.D. 1599, died A.D. 1658. The Poet Gray clearly means to imply, that, in his opinion, Cromwell was not guiltless, but guilty of his country's blood.