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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, 5
Save where the beetle wheels his droning flight,
Save that from yonder ivy-mantled tower,
The moping owl does to the moon complain. Of such as, wandering 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 mouldering heap,
Each in his narrow cell forever laid,
The rude forefathers of the hamlet sleep.
The breezy call of incense-breathing morn,
The swallow twittering from the straw-built shed, The cock's shrill clarion, or the echoing horn,
No more shall rouse them from their lowly bed.° 20
For them no more the blazing hearth shall burn,
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,
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 honor's voice provoke the silent dust,
Or flattery soothe 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 swayed, Or waked to ecstasy the living lyre:
But knowledge to their eyes her ample page
Rich with the spoils of time did ne'er unroll; 50 Chill penury repressed their noble rage,° And froze the genial current of the soul.
Full many a gem of purest ray serene°
The dark unfathomed 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,
The applause of listening senates to command,
To scatter plenty o'er a smiling land,
And read their history in a nation's eyes,
Their lot forbade: nor circumscribed alone
Their growing virtues, but their crimes confined: 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 tenor of their way.
Yet e'en these bones from insult to protect
With uncouth rhymes and shapeless sculpture decked, Implores the passing tribute of a sigh.
Their name, their years, spelt by the unlettered Muse,°
And many a holy text around she strews,
For who, to dumb forgetfulness a prey,
Nor cast one longing lingering look behind?