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'Tis fhe! but why that bleeding bofom gor'd?
Why dimly gleams the vifionary fword?
Oh ever beauteous, ever friendly! tell,
Is it, in heav'n, a crime to love too well?
To bear too tender, or too firm a heart,
To act a lover's, or a Roman's part?
Is there no bright reverfion in the fky,
For those who greatly think, or bravely die?

Why bade ye elfe, ye Pow'rs! her foul aspire
Above the vulgar flight of low defire ?
Ambition firft fprang from your bleft abodes,
The glorious fault of Angels and of Gods:
Thence to their images on earth it flows,
And in the breafts of kings and heroes glows!
Moft fouls, 'tis true, but peep out once an age,
Dull, fullen pris'ners in the body's cage:
Dim lights of life, that burn a length of years,
Ufelefs, unfeen, as lamps in fepulchres ;
Like eastern kings a lazy ftate they keep,
And clofe confin'd in their own palace fleep.

From thefe perhaps (ere nature bade her die)
Fate fnatch'd her early to the pitying sky.
As into air the purer fpirits flow,

And fep'rate from their kindred dregs below;
So flew the foul to its congenial place,
Nor left one virtue to redeem her race.

But thou, falfe guardian of a charge too good, Thou mean deferter of thy brother's blood! See on these ruby lips the trembling breath, These cheeks, now fading at the blaft of death; Cold is that breast which warm'd the world before, And those love-darting eyes muft roll no more. Thus, if eternal justice rules the ball,

Thus fhall your wives, and thus your children fall:
On all the line a fudden vengeance waits,
And frequent herfes fhall befiege your gates.
There paffengers fhall ftand, and pointing say,
(While the long fun'rals blacken all the way)
Lo these were they whofe fouls the furies fteel'd,
And curs'd with hearts unknowing how to yield.
Thus unlamented pass the proud away,
The gaze of fools, and pageants of a day!

So perish all, whofe breaft ne'er learnt to glow
For others good, or melt at others woe.

What can atone (oh ever-injur'd shade !)
Thy fate unpity'd, and thy rites unpaid?
No friends complaint, no kind domestic tear
Pleas'd thy pale ghoft, or grac'd thy mournful bier;
By foreign hands thy dying eyes were clos'd,
By foreign hands thy decent limbs compos'd.
By foreign hands thy humble grave adorn'd,
By strangers honour'd, and by ftrangers mourn'd!
What tho' no friends in fable weeds appear,
Grieve for an hour, perhaps, then mourn a year,
And bear about the mockery of woe
To midnight dances, and the public show ;
What tho' no facred earth allow thee room,
Nor hallow'd dirge be mutter'd o'er thy tomb;
Yet fhall thy grave with rifing flow'rs be dreft,
And the green-turf lie lightly on thy breast:
There fhall the morn her earliest tears bestow,
There the first rofes of the year shall blow;
While Angels with their filver wings o'erfhade
The ground, now facred by thy reliques made.
So peaceful refts, without a ftone, a name,
What once had beauty, titles, wealth, and fame :
How lov'd, how honour'd once, avails thee not,
To whom related, or by whom begot;
A heap of duft alone remains of thee,
'Tis all thou art, and all the proud shall be!

Poets themselves must fall, like those they fung,
Deaf the prais'd ear, and mute the tuneful tongue.
Ev'n he, whose soul now melts in mournful lays,
Shall shortly want the generous tear he pays :
Then from his clofing eyes thy form fhall part,
And the laft pang fhall tear thee from his heart:
Life's idle bufinefs at one gafp be o'er,
The mufe forgot, and thou belov'd no more!

But of Elegies on the fubject of death, this by Mr. Gray is one of the beft that has appeared in our language, and may be justly efteem'd a masterpiece.


Written in a country church-yard.

The curfeu tolls the knell of parting day,
The lowing herd winds flowly o'er the lea.
The plowman homeward plods his weary way,
And leaves the world to darkness, and to me.
Now fades the glimmering landscape on the fight,
And all the air a folemn ftillness holds ;
Save where the beetle wheels his droning flight,
Or drowsy tincklings lull the diftant folds.

Save that from yonder ivy-mantled tow'r

The moping owl does to the moon complain Of fuch as, wand'ring near her fecret bow'r, Moleft her ancient folitary reign.

Beneath those rugged elms, that yew-tree's fhade, Where heaves the turf in many a mould'ring heap, Each in his narrow cell for ever laid,

The rude fore-fathers of the hamlet fleep. The breezy call of incenfe breathing morn,

The swallow twitt'ring from the straw-built shed, The cock's fhrill clarion, or the echoing horn,

No more fhall rouse them from their lowly bed. For them no more the blazing hearth shall burn, Or bufy housewife ply her evening care: No children run to lifp their fire's return,

Or climb his knees the envy'd kifs to fhare.

Let not ambition mock their useful toil,

Their homely joys, and deftiny obfcure;
Nor grandeur hear with a difdainful fmile,

The fhort and fimple annals of the poor.
The boaft of heraldry, the pomp of pow'r,
And all that beauty, all that wealth e'er gave,
Awaits alike th' inevitable hour,

The paths of glory lead but to the grave.


Oft did the harveft to their fickle yield,

Their furrow oft the stubborn glebe has broke; How jocund did they drive their team a field!

How bow'd the woods beneath their sturdy stroke!

Forgive, ye proud, th' involuntary fault,
If memory to thefe no trophies raise,
Where through the long-drawn ifle and fretted vault
The pealing anthem fwells the notes of praise.

Can ftoried urn, or animated buft,

Back to its manfion call the fleeting breath? Can honour's voice provoke the filent duft,

Or flatt'ry footh the dull cold ear of death?

Perhaps in this neglected spot is laid

Some heart once pregnant with celeftial fire, Hands that the reins of empire might have fway'd, Or wak'd to extafy the living lyre.

But knowledge to their eyes her ample page,
Rich with the fpoils of time, did ne'er unro
Chill penury reprefs'd their noble rage,

And froze the genial current of the foul.

Full many a gem of pureft ray ferene,

The dark unfathom'd caves of ocean bear: Full many a flower is born to blush unseen,

And wafte its fweetnefs on the defert air. Some village-Hampden, that with dauntless breaft The little tyrant of his fields withstood; Some mute inglorious Milton here may reft, Some Cromwell guiltlefs of his country's blood. Th' applause of lift'ning fenates to command, The threats of pain and ruin to despise, To fcatter plenty o'er a fmiling land,

And read their history in a nation's eyes Their lot forbad; nor circumfcrib'd alone

Their growing virtues, but their crimes confin'd; Forbad to wade through slaughter to a throne, And shut the gates of mercy on mankind,

The ftruggling pangs of confcious truth to hide,
To quench the blufhes of ingenuous fhame,
Or heap the shrine of luxury and pride

With incenfe, kindled at the mufe's flame.

Far from the madding crowd's ignoble ftrife,
Their fober wifhes never learn'd to stray;
Along the cool fequefter'd vale of life
They kept the noiseless tenor of their way.

Yet e'en these bones from infult to protect,
Some frail memorial ftill erected nigh,
With uncouth rhymes and fhapelefs fculpture deck'd,
Implores the paffing tribute of a figh.

Their name, their years, fpelt by th' unletter'd muse,
The place of fame and elegy fupply;
And many a holy text around the ftrews,
That teach the ruftic moralift to die.

For who to dumb forgetfulness a prey,

This pleafing anxious being e'er refign'd, Left the warm precincts of the chearful day,

Nor caft one longing, ling'ring look behind?

On fome fond breaft the parting foul relies,

Some pious drops the clofing eye requires ; Ev'n from the tomb the voice of nature cries, Awake and faithful to her wonted fires.

For thee, who mindful of th' unhonour'd dead
Doft in these lines their artlefs tale relate;
If chance, by lonely contemplation led,

Some kindred spirit fhall inquire thy fate.
Haply, fome hoary-headed fwain may fay,

Oft have we seen him at the peep of dawn Brushing with hafty steps the dews away, • To meet the fun upon the upland lawn.

There at the foot of yonder nodding beech

That wreathes its old fantastic roots fo high, His liftless length at noon-tide would he ftretch, • And pore upon the brook that babbles by.


Hard by yon wood, now fmiling as in fcorn,
Mutt'ring his wayward fancies he would rove,
Now drooping, woeful wan, like one forlorn,
Or craz'd with care, or crofs'd in hopeless love.

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