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Written in a Country Church-yard.
THE Curfew tolls the knell of parting day,
Now fades the glimmering landscape on the sight,
Save that, from yonder ivy mantled tow'r,
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.
The breezy call of incense-breathing inorn,
For them no more the blazing hearth shall burn,
Or busy housewife ply her evening care;
Oft did the harvest to their sickle yield,
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 pow'r,
The paths of glory lead but to the grave.
Nor you, ye proud, impute to these the fault,
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 ecstacy the living lyre.
But Knowledge to their eyes her ample page,
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 in 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.
Th' applause of list'ning senates to command,
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,
With incense kindled at the Muse's flame.
Far from the madding crowd's ignoble strife,
They kept the noiseless tenour of their way.
Yet e'en these bones from insult to protect
With uncouth rhymes and shapeless sculpture deck'd,
Their name, their years, spelt by th' unletter'd Muse,
And many a holy text around she strews,
For who, to dumb forgetfulness a prey,
On some fond breast the parting soul relies,
Some pious drops the closing eye requires; E'en from the tomb the voice of nature cries, E'en in our ashes live their wonted fires.
For thee who, mindful of th' unhonoured dead,
Haply some hoary-headed swain may say,
"There, at the foot of yonder nodding beech,
Hard by yon wood, now smiling as in scorn, Mutt'ring his wayward fancies, he would rove, 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 th' accustom'd hill, Along the heath and near his favourite tree; Another came; nor yet beside the rill,
Nor up the lawn, nor at the wood was he:
"The next, with dirges due, in sad array,
Slow through the church-way path we saw him borne. Approach, and read (for thou canst read) the lay
Grav'd on the stone beneath yon aged thorn."