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THE Curfew tolls the knell of parting day (k),

The lowing herd wind slowly o'er the lea, The ploughman homeward plods his weary way, And leaves the world to darkness and to me.

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 the turf in many a mould'ring heap,
Each in his narrow cell for ever laid,

The rude Forefathers of the hamlet sleep.

(k) The Curfew tolls the knell of parting day.
squilla di lontano

Che paia ' giorno pianger, che si muore.
Dante, Purgat. 1. 8.

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 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 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 thro' 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 Flatt'ry sooth 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 sway'd,

Or wak'd 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 repress'd their noble rage,

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 [1].

[1] Mr. Edwards (Author of the Canons of Criticism) who, though an old bachelor, like Mr. Gray, was more attentive to the fair sex than our Pindaric Poet, endeavoured to supply what he thought a defect in this admired Poem, by introducing after this the two following stanzas, the first of which is certainly the happiest effort of the two:

Some lovely fair, whose unaffected charms

Shone with attraction to herself unknown;

Whose beauty might have blest a monarch's arms,
And virtue cast a lustre on the throne:



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 hist'ry in a nation's eyes,

Their lot forbade: nor circumscrib'd alone

Their growing virtues, but their crimes confin'd; 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. [2]

That humble beauty warm'd an honest heart,
And cheer'd the labours of a faithful spouse;
That virtue form'd, for every decent part,

The healthy offspring that adorn'd their house.

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[2] After this verse, in Mr. Gray's first MS. of the Poem, were the four following:

The thoughtless world to Majesty may bow,
Exalt the brave, and idolize success;

But more to innocence their safety owe,

Than Pow'r or Genius e'er conspir'd to bless.


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