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Bound in thy adamantine chain
And purple tyrants 1 vainly groan
When first thy sire to send on earth
Virtue, his darling 3 child, designed, To thee he gave the heavenly birth,
And bade to form her infant mind.
What sorrow was thou badst her know
Scared at thy frown terrific, fly
Self-pleasing Folly's idle brood,
And leave us leisure to be good.
By vain Prosperity received,
Wisdom in sable garb 7 arrayed,
Immersed in rapturous thought profound,
1 The purpurei tyranni of Horace. Purple is the emblem of imperial power.
2 “Strange horror seize thee, and pangs unfelt before.”-Mildon. 3 A.S. dearling. Diminutive of deor, dear.
4 "So perish all whose breast ne'er learned to glow
For others' good, or melt at others' woe.”—Pope. 5 An adverb. Frequently drops the affix ly in poetry, in common with words of this class.
6 Plight their troth. The A.8. trewth, and 0.E. trouth, if not ori. ginally identical, have come to be synonymous terms:
“And, to speak troth, I have forgot our way.”-Shakspeare. 7 Directly from the French garbe, but supposed to have an etymolo. gical connexion with gear.
And Melancholy, silent maid,
With leaden eye that loves the ground,
With Justice, to herself severe,
Oh! gently on thy suppliant's head,
Dread goddess, lay thy chastening 2 hand! Not in thy Gorgon 3 terrors clad,
Nor circled with the vengeful band * (As by the impious thou art seen) With thundering voice, and threatening mien,
With screaming Horror's funeral 6 cry Despair, and fell Disease, and ghastly Poverty.
Thy form benign,' oh goddess, wear,
Thy milder influence impart, Thy philosophic train be there
To soften, not to wound my heart.
1 Meas and xon-Black-bile, primarily a physical disorder, but which has come to signify the characteristic of temperament which the disorder involves.
2 Aflicting, literally making chaste.
8 The name applies to the three terrible sisters of classical mythology whose snaky hair and countenances of repulsive horror transformed into stone every one who beheld them. Medusa, one of the three, was slain by Perseus, by the artifice of a mirror upon his shield, which enabled him, without looking upon, to decapitate her. He presented Pallas with the petrifying head, which she afterwards wore in the centre of her shield.
Hence the poet's invocation, "Not in thy Gorgon terrors clad."
4 The three Furies-Alecto, Tisiphone, Megæra. 5 Expression of the countenance. French, mine; German, miene.
6 Funereal is the more usual adjective expression of the Latin funestus, fatal, deadly.
7 Bene-gigno, good-natured.
The generous spark extinct revive,
Exact my own defects to scan, 1
ODE ON A DISTANT PROSPECT OF
ETON COLLEGE. [Tuis ode, which appeared in “Dodsley's Miscellany” in 1747, was the first of Gray's poetical productions which attained to the dignity of print. After his return from the Continent with Walpole, whom he set out to visit at Windsor, the poet passed once more through the play. grounds of Eton, where the youth of the college were enjoying the light-hearted and boisterous pastimes of boyhood. In his soul there was a commingling of the vanished past and the boding future, and his own studious and careworn life cast a shadow of melancholy over the anticipated manhood of the happy youths upon the college green. The ode is a reflex of the poet's thoughts and emotions on that special occasion, embodied in pleasing and artistically polished, if not very strikingly vigorous and original verse.]
"Ανθρωπος έκανή πρόφασις εις το δυστυχείν.
Ye distant spires, ye antique towers,
That crown the watery glade,
Her Henry's holy 4 shade;
ye that from the stately brow
2 An English paraphrase of the Homo sum ; humani nihil a me ali. enum puto of Terence.
3 Spira, a screw_usually a steeple; anything tapering to a point. Antique, from the Latin antiquus or anticus; hence the double form, antique and antic, which have, however, come to be quite different in signification.
4 Henry VI. founded Eton College, 1441. Holy, the same epithet is applied to the same personage in The Bard on account of his running a narrow escape of being elevated to the dignity of a saint.
Of grove, of lawn, 1 of mead 1
survey, Whose turf, whose shade, whose flowers among Wanders the hoary 2 Thames along
His silver-winding way.
Ah, happy hills ! ah, pleasing shade!
Ah, fields beloved in vain !
A stranger yet to pain !
As waving fresh 3 their gladsome wing,
To breathe a second spring.
Say, father Thames,7 for thou hast seen
Full many a sprightly 8 race
The paths of pleasure trace;
1 Originally the enclosed ground around a country mansion. Mead, abbreviation of meadow; supposed to be the original participle of the verb to mow.
2 A.S. Har. In classic poetry the river personified is always paternal and aged.
3 Afresh (A.S. Ferse), once again. “Ye have crucified the Lord afresh.” Usual acceptation as an adjective, new, untainted.
4 The old spelling of soothe, retained to meet the exigencies of rhyme.
5 Re-oleo, I smell back, emitting smell. 6 The days of boyhood back again.
7 On this invocation Dr Johnson remarks, with forced and spurious wit, rather than criticism, “Father Thames had no better means of knowing than the poet.”
8 Spirit-like, animated, lively.
9 Now nearly obsolete, except as a reflective verb. Margent green, “ Mæander's margent green."-Milton. From Latin margo, the brink. Modern form, margin.
The captive linnet which enthral ?
Or urge the flying ball ?
While some on earnest business bent
Their murmuring labours 2 ply
To sweeten liberty :
And unknown regions dare descry : 4
And snatch a fearful joy.
Gay hope is theirs, by fancy fed,
Less pleasing when possest :
The sunshine of the breast :
And lively cheer, of vigour born :
That fly the approach of morn.
I The late Earl of Carlisle, an eminent pupil of Eton, objects to the hyper-puerility of the sports in which Gray represents the students as engaging. Certainly, to be depicted as trundling a hoop, a pastime of boys in the ante-breeches period of their life, is no special compliment to a Latin-cramming Etonian.
2 Reading half aloud.
3 Go beyond the boundaries of the play-ground. Reign, the space over which they hold dominion,
5 A.-C. and 0. E., bocsum; German, biegsam, seems originally to have signified yielding, pliant. It is now an adjective, signifying abounding in lusty health.
6 Untutored, free from conventional etiquette.