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              1The curfew tolls the knell of parting day,
              2      The lowing herd wind slowly o'er the lea,
              3The plowman homeward plods his weary way,
              4      And leaves the world to darkness and to me.

              5Now fades the glimm'ring landscape on the sight,
              6      And all the air a solemn stillness holds,
              7Save where the beetle wheels his droning flight,
              8      And drowsy tinklings lull the distant folds;

              9Save that from yonder ivy-mantled tow'r
            10      The moping owl does to the moon complain
            11Of such, as wand'ring near her secret bow'r,
            12      Molest her ancient solitary reign.

            13Beneath those rugged elms, that yew-tree's shade,
            14      Where heaves the turf in many a mould'ring heap,
            15Each in his narrow cell for ever laid,
            16      The rude forefathers of the hamlet sleep.

            17The breezy call of incense-breathing Morn,
            18      The swallow twitt'ring from the straw-built shed,
            19The cock's shrill clarion, or the echoing horn,
            20      No more shall rouse them from their lowly bed.

            21For them no more the blazing hearth shall burn,
            22      Or busy housewife ply her evening care:
            23No children run to lisp their sire's return,
            24      Or climb his knees the envied kiss to share.

            25Oft did the harvest to their sickle yield,
            26      Their furrow oft the stubborn glebe has broke;
            27How jocund did they drive their team afield!
            28      How bow'd the woods beneath their sturdy stroke!

            29Let not Ambition mock their useful toil,
            30      Their homely joys, and destiny obscure;
            31Nor Grandeur hear with a disdainful smile
            32      The short and simple annals of the poor.

            33The boast of heraldry, the pomp of pow'r,
            34      And all that beauty, all that wealth e'er gave,
            35Awaits alike th' inevitable hour.
            36      The paths of glory lead but to the grave.

            37Nor you, ye proud, impute to these the fault,
            38      If Mem'ry o'er their tomb no trophies raise,
            39Where thro' the long-drawn aisle and fretted vault
            40      The pealing anthem swells the note of praise.

            41Can storied urn or animated bust
            42      Back to its mansion call the fleeting breath?
            43Can Honour's voice provoke the silent dust,
            44      Or Flatt'ry soothe the dull cold ear of Death?

            45Perhaps in this neglected spot is laid
            46      Some heart once pregnant with celestial fire;
            47Hands, that the rod of empire might have sway'd,
            48      Or wak'd to ecstasy the living lyre.

            49But Knowledge to their eyes her ample page
            50      Rich with the spoils of time did ne'er unroll;
            51Chill Penury repress'd their noble rage,
            52      And froze the genial current of the soul.

            53Full many a gem of purest ray serene,
            54      The dark unfathom'd caves of ocean bear:
            55Full many a flow'r is born to blush unseen,
            56      And waste its sweetness on the desert air.

            57Some village-Hampden, that with dauntless breast
            58      The little tyrant of his fields withstood;
            59Some mute inglorious Milton here may rest,
            60      Some Cromwell guiltless of his country's blood.

            61Th' applause of list'ning senates to command,
            62      The threats of pain and ruin to despise,
            63To scatter plenty o'er a smiling land,
            64      And read their hist'ry in a nation's eyes,

            65Their lot forbade: nor circumscrib'd alone
            66      Their growing virtues, but their crimes confin'd;
            67Forbade to wade through slaughter to a throne,
            68      And shut the gates of mercy on mankind,

            69The struggling pangs of conscious truth to hide,
            70      To quench the blushes of ingenuous shame,
            71Or heap the shrine of Luxury and Pride
            72      With incense kindled at the Muse's flame.

            73Far from the madding crowd's ignoble strife,
            74      Their sober wishes never learn'd to stray;
            75Along the cool sequester'd vale of life
            76      They kept the noiseless tenor of their way.

            77Yet ev'n these bones from insult to protect,
            78      Some frail memorial still erected nigh,
            79With uncouth rhymes and shapeless sculpture deck'd,
            80      Implores the passing tribute of a sigh.

            81Their name, their years, spelt by th' unletter'd muse,
            82      The place of fame and elegy supply:
            83And many a holy text around she strews,
            84      That teach the rustic moralist to die.

            85For who to dumb Forgetfulness a prey,
            86      This pleasing anxious being e'er resign'd,
            87Left the warm precincts of the cheerful day,
            88      Nor cast one longing, ling'ring look behind?

            89On some fond breast the parting soul relies,
            90      Some pious drops the closing eye requires;
            91Ev'n from the tomb the voice of Nature cries,
            92      Ev'n in our ashes live their wonted fires.

            93For thee, who mindful of th' unhonour'd Dead
            94      Dost in these lines their artless tale relate;
            95If chance, by lonely contemplation led,
            96      Some kindred spirit shall inquire thy fate,

            97Haply some hoary-headed swain may say,
            98      "Oft have we seen him at the peep of dawn
            99Brushing with hasty steps the dews away
          100      To meet the sun upon the upland lawn.

          101"There at the foot of yonder nodding beech
          102      That wreathes its old fantastic roots so high,
          103His listless length at noontide would he stretch,
          104      And pore upon the brook that babbles by.

          105"Hard by yon wood, now smiling as in scorn,
          106      Mutt'ring his wayward fancies he would rove,
          107Now drooping, woeful wan, like one forlorn,
          108      Or craz'd with care, or cross'd in hopeless love.

          109"One morn I miss'd him on the custom'd hill,
          110      Along the heath and near his fav'rite tree;
          111Another came; nor yet beside the rill,
          112      Nor up the lawn, nor at the wood was he;

          113"The next with dirges due in sad array
          114      Slow thro' the church-way path we saw him borne.
          115Approach and read (for thou canst read) the lay,
          116      Grav'd on the stone beneath yon aged thorn."

          117Here rests his head upon the lap of Earth
          118     A youth to Fortune and to Fame unknown.
          119Fair Science frown'd not on his humble birth,
          120     And Melancholy mark'd him for her own.

          121Large was his bounty, and his soul sincere,
          122     Heav'n did a recompense as largely send:
          123He gave to Mis'ry all he had, a tear,
          124     He gain'd from Heav'n ('twas all he wish'd) a friend.

          125No farther seek his merits to disclose,
          126     Or draw his frailties from their dread abode,
          127 (There they alike in trembling hope repose)
          128     The bosom of his Father and his God.
Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard
Thomas Gray (1716-1771)