« PreviousContinue »
"Hard by yon wood, now smiling as in scorn, "Mutt'ring his wayward fancies he would
"Now drooping, woeful-wan, like one forlorn, "Or craz'd with care, or cross'd in hopeless ❝ love.
"One morn I miss'd him on the custom'd hill,
"The next with dirges due in sad array
"Slow thro' the church-way path we saw
"Approach and read (for thou can'st read) the
"Grav'd on the stone beneath yon aged "thorn."
THE EPITAPH .
Here rests his head upon the lap of Earth
A Youth, to Fortune 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 soul sincere,
Heav'n did a recompence as largely send: He gave to Mis'ry all he had, a tear,
He gain'd from Heav'n ('twas all he wish'd) a friend.
No farther seek his merits to disclose,
Or draw his frailties from their dread abode,
 Before the Epitaph, Mr. Gray originally inserted a very beautiful stanza, which was printed in some of the first editions, but afterwards omitted, because he thought that it was too long a parenthesis in this place. The lines however are, in themselves, exquisitely fine, and demand preservation.
There scatter'd oft, the earliest of the year,
(There they alike in trembling hope repose,) The bosom of his Father and his God .
 Of this Elegy Dr. Johnson (who has depreciated Mr. Gray as much as possible for his poetry in general) says, that it " abounds with images "which find a mirror in every mind, and with sentiments to which "every bosom returns an echo. The four stanzas beginning, 'Yet " even these bones' are to me original: I have never seen the notions "in any other place; yet he that reads them here persuades himself "that he has always felt them. Had Gray written often thus, it had "been vain to blame, and useless to praise him."