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ELEGY,

WRITTEN

IN A COUNTRY CHURCHYARD.

The curfew tolls the knell of parting day,

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, wandering near her secret bower,

Molest her ancient solitary reign.
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.
Beneath those rugged elms, that yew-tree's shade,

Where heaves the turf in many a mouldering heap, Each in his narrow cell for ever laid,

The rude forefathers of the hamlet sleep.

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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. 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.

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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!

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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 the' 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 through the long-drawn aisle and fretted vault

The pealing anthem swells the note of praise.

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Can storied urn, or animated bust,

Back to its mansion call the fleeting breath? Can honour's voice provoke the silent dust,

Or flattery sooth the dull cold ear of death?

It shed,

bed.

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 waked 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.

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many a gem of purest ray serene
The dark unfathom'd caves of ocean bear:
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many a flower is born to blush unseen,
And waste its sweetness on the desert air.

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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.
The applause of listening senates to command,

The threats of pain and ruin to despise,
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,

To quench the blushes of ingenuous shame,
Or heap the shrine of luxury and pride

With incense kindled at the Muse's flame.

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Far from the madding crowd's ignoble strife,

Their sober wishes never learn’d to stray; Along the cool sequester'd vale of life

They kept the noiseless tenour of their way.
Yet e'en these bones from insult to protect,

Some frail memorial still erected nigh,
With uncouth rhymes and shapeless sculpture deck'd,

Implores the passing tribute of a sigh.
Their name, their years, spelt by the unletter'd Muse, 7 %

The place of fame and elegy supply:
And many a holy text around she strews,

That teach the rustic moralist to die.

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For who, to dumb forgetfulness a prey,

This pleasing anxious being e'er resign'd, Left the warm precincts of the cheerful day,

Nor cast one longing lingering look behind ? 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 the unhonour'd dead,

Dost in these lines their artless tale relate;
If chance, by lonely contemplation led,

Some kindred spirit shall inquire thy fate,

Haply some hoary-headed swain may say,

“ Oft have we seen him at the peep of dawn Brushing with hasty steps the dews away

To meet the sun upon the upland lawn,

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