The curfew tolls the knell of parting day,
The lowing herd winds 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,
all the air a solemn stillness holds,
Save where the beetle wheels his droning flight,
And drowsy tinklings lull the
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,
heaves the turf in many a mouldering heap,
Each in his narrow cell for ever laid,
The rude Forefathers of the hamlet
The breezy call of incense-breathing morn,
The swallow twittering from the straw-built shed,
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,
his knees the envied kiss to share,
Oft did the harvest to their sickle yield,
Their furrow oft the stubborn glebe
How jocund did they drive their team afield!
How bow'd the woods beneath their sturdy stroke!
not Ambition mock their useful toil,
Their homely joys, and destiny obscure;
Nor Grandeur hear with a disdainful smile
short and simple annals of the Poor.
The boast of heraldry, the pomp of power,
And all that beauty, all that wealth
Awaits alike th' 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
pealing anthem swells the note of praise.
Can storied urn or animated bust
Back to its mansion call the fleeting
Can Honour's voice provoke the silent dust,
Or Flattery soothe the dull cold ear of Death?
this neglected spot is laid
Some heart once pregnant with celestial fire;
Hands, that the rod of empire might have sway'd,
waked to ecstasy the living lyre:
But Knowledge to their eyes her ample page,
Rich with the spoils of time, did
Chill Penury repress'd their noble rage,
And froze the genial current of the soul.
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,
waste its sweetness on the desert air.
Some village-Hampden, that with dauntless breast
The little tyrant of his
Some mute inglorious Milton here may rest,
Some Cromwell, guiltless of his country's blood.
applause of list'ning senates to command,
The threats of pain and ruin to despise,
To scatter plenty o'er a smiling
And read their history in a nation's eyes,
Their lot forbad: nor circumscribed alone
Their growing virtues,
but their crimes confined;
Forbad to wade through slaughter to a throne,
And shut the gates of mercy on mankind,
struggling pangs of conscious truth to hide,
To quench the blushes of ingenuous shame,
Or heap the shrine of Luxury
With incense kindled at the Muse's flame.
Far from the madding crowd's ignoble strife,
wishes never learn'd to stray;
Along the cool sequester'd vale of life
They kept the noiseless tenour of their way.
e'en these bones from insult to protect
Some frail memorial still erected nigh,
With uncouth rhymes and shapeless sculpture
Implores the passing tribute of a sigh.
Their name, their years, spelt by th' unletter'd Muse,
of fame and elegy supply:
And many a holy text around she strews,
That teach the rustic moralist to die.
who, to dumb forgetfulness a prey,
This pleasing anxious being e'er resign'd,
Left the warm precincts of the cheerful
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.
thee, who, mindful of th' unhonour'd dead,
Dost in these lines their artless tale relate;
If chance, by lonely contemplation
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;
the foot of yonder nodding beech
That wreathes its old fantastic roots so high.
His listless length at noontide would
And pore upon the brook that babbles by.
'Hard by yon wood, now smiling as in scorn,
wayward fancies he would rove;
Now drooping, woeful wan, like one forlorn,
Or crazed with care, or cross'd in hopeless
'One morn I miss'd him on the custom'd hill,
Along the heath, and near his favourite tree;
nor yet beside the rill,
Nor up the lawn, nor at the wood was he;
'The next with dirges due in sad array
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.'
- The Epitaph
Here rests his head upon the lap of Earth
A youth to Fortune and to Fame unknown.
Fair Science frowned not on his
And Melacholy 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,
He gained from Heaven ('twas all he wish'd) a friend.
farther seek his merits to disclose,
Or draw his frailties from their dread abode
(There they alike in trembling hope
The bosom of his Father and his God.