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For care, I care not what it is;
I wish but what I have at will;
I wander not to seek for more;
In greatest storms I sit on shore,
I kiss not where I wish to kill;
I feign not love where most I hate;
I wait not at the mighty's gate;
The court, ne cart, I like ne loathe;
Extremes are counted worst of all;
Doth surest sit, and fears no fall;
AN ELEGY WRITTEN IN A COUNTRY- CHURCH YARD. — Gray.
The curfew tolls the knell of parting day,
The ploughman homeward plods his weary way,
126 ELEGY WRITTEN IN A COUNTRY CHURCHYARD.
Now fades the glimmering landscape on the sight,
Save where the beetle wheels his drony flight,
Save that, from yonder ivy-mantled tower,
Of such as, wandering near her secret bower,
Beneath those rugged elms, that yew-tree's shade,
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,
For them no more the blazing hearth shall burn,
No children run to lisp their sire's return,
Oft did the harvest to their sickle yield;
Their furrow oft the stubborn glebe has broke; How jocund did they drive their teams afield!
How bowed the woods beneath their sturdy stroke!
Let not Ambition mock their useful toil,
Nor Grandeur hear with a disdainful smile
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,
Where, through the long-drawn aisle and fretted vault,
Can storied urn, or animated bust, Back to its mansion call the fleeting breath?
Can honor's voice provoke the silent dust,
Perhaps in this neglected spot is laid Some heart once pregnant with celestial fire;
Hands that the rod of empire might have swayed,
But Knowledge to their eyes her ample page,
Chill Penury repressed their noble rage,
Full many a gem, of purest ray serene, The dark, unfathomed caves of ocean bear;
Full many a flower is born to blush unseen,
Some village Hampden,^ that with dauntless breast
Some mute, inglorious Milton here may rest;
*An English patriot, who resisted King Charles the First's usurpation of power.
128 ELEGY WRITTEN IN A COUNTRY CHURCHYARD.
The applause of listening senates to command,
And read their history in a nation's eyes,
Their lot forbade; nor circumscribed alone
Their growing virtues, but their crimes confined J
Forbade to wade through slaughter to a throne,
The struggling pangs of conscious Truth to hide,
Or heap the shrine of Luxury and Pride
Far from the madding crowd's ignoble strife,
Along the cool, sequestered vale of life They kept the noiseless tenor of their way.
Yet e'en these bones from insult to protect, Some frail memorial still erected nigh,
Their name, their years, spelt by the unlettered Muse, The place of fame and elegy supply;
For who, to dumb forgetfulness a prey, This pleasing, anxious being e'er resigned,
Left the warm precincts of the cheerful day,
On some fond breast the parting soul relies,
E'en from the tomb the voice of Nature cries,
For thee, who, mindful of the unhonored dead,
If, chance, by lonely contemplation led,
Some kindred spirit should inquire thy fate,
Haply some hoary-headed swain may say, —
Brishing with hasty steps the dews away,
"There, at the foot of yonder nodding beech,
His listless length at noontide would he stretch,
"Hard by yon wood, now smiling, as in scorn,
Now drooping, woful-wan, like one forlorn, Or crazed with care, or crossed in hopeless love.
"One morn I missed him on the 'customed hill, Along the heath, and near his favorite tree;
Another came; nor yet beside the rill, Nor up the lawn, nor at the wood, was be.
"The next, with dirges due, in sad array,
Slow through the church-way path we saw him borne;
Approach and read (for thou canst read) the lay,