Page images
PDF
EPUB

"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 Graved on the stone beneath yon aged thorn."

[graphic][merged small]

Here rests his head upon the lap of Earth,
A youth, to Fortune and to Fame unknown;
Fair Science frowned not on his humble birth,
And Melancholy marked him for her own.

Large was his bounty, and his soul sincere;
Heaven did a recompense as largely send:
He gave to Misery all he had a tear;

[ocr errors]

He gained from Heaven-'t was all he wished

a friend.

No further seek his merits to disclose,

Or draw his frailties from their dread abode; There they alike in trembling hope repose,

The bosom of his Father and his God.

[graphic]
[graphic]

BOTH as a literary curiosity, and to perpetuate them, the publishers have reprinted, as an addition to this edition of Gray's Elegy, the following verses, which appeared in the original editions, but which were subsequently omitted by the author.

THE REJECTED VERSES.

Hark! how the sacred calm that breathes around
Bids every fierce, tumultuous passion cease;
In still, small accents whispering from the ground
A grateful earnest of eternal peace.

Him have we seen the greenwood side along,
While o'er the heath we hied, our labor done,
Oft as the woodlark piped her farewell song,
With wistful eyes pursue the setting sun.

There scattered oft, the earliest of the year,

By hands unseen, are showers of violets found;
The redbreast loves to build and warble there,

And little footsteps lightly print the ground.

The stanza beginning,

"Hark! how the sacred calm that breathes around,"

finds its proper place as the fourth in the Elegy. It is acknowledged by Mason and others to be equal to any in the poem. The cause of its rejection by the author is manifest, and shows that it was not from his having disapproved it. From two preceding, and a following stanza, which were rejected with it, he withdrew two ideas, and some lines, which he transferred and worked up in other parts of the Elegy, thus leaving this fine stanza insulated; and because it so became unfitted for the particular place for which he had first designed it, he dropped it altogether.

The stanza beginning, —

"Him have we seen the green wood side along,"

completes the account of the Poet's day, following naturally the verse,

"There at the foot of yonder nodding beech,

That wreathes its old fantastic roots so high,
His listless length at noontide would he stretch,
And pore upon the brook that babbles by,” —

for "without it," as Mason observes, "we have only his morning walk, and his noontide repose."

The third stanza,

"There scatter'd oft, the earliest of the year,'

[ocr errors]

Mr. Gray originally inserted before the "Epitaph," but afterwards omitted, because he thought it was too long a parenthesis in this place.

These three stanzas are in themselves exquisitely fine, and demand preservation.

« PreviousContinue »