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HE curfew tolls the knell of parting day,
The lowing herd wind slowly o'er the lea, The plowman homewards plods his weary, way, And leaves the world to darkness and to me.
Now fades the glimmering landscape on the fight,
And all the air a solemn stillness holds,
Save where the beetle wheels his drony flight,
And drowsy tinklings lull the diftant folds ;
Save that from yonder ivy-mantled tow'r
The mopeing owl does to the moon complain
Of such, as wand'ring near her secret bow'r,
Molest her ancient, solitary reign.
Beneath those rugged elms, that yew tree's shade,
Where heaves the turf in many a mould'ring heap,
Each in his narrow cell for ever laid,
The rude Forefathers of the hamlet sleep.
The breezy call of incense-breathing Morn,
The swallow twitt'ring from the straw-built shed,
The cock's fhrill 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 houfwife ply her evening care :
No children run to lisp their fire's return,
Or climb his knees the envied kiss to share.
Oft did the harvest to their fickle 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 Atroke!
Let not Ambition mock their useful toil,
Their homely joys, and definy obscure ;
Nor Grandeur hear with a disdainful smile,
The short and simple annals of the poor.
The boast of heraldry, the pomp of pow'r,
And all that beauty, all that wealth e’er gave,
Await alike th' inevitable hour.
The paths of glory lead but to the grave.
Nor you, ye Proud, impute to These the fault,
If Mem'sy o'er their Tomb no Trophies raise,
Where thro' the long-drawn isle and fretted vault
The pealing anthem swells the 'note of praise.
Can storied urn or animated bust
Back to its mansion call the fleeting breath;
Can Honour's voice provoke the filent duft,
Or Flatt’ry footh the dull cold ear of Death ?
Perhaps in this neglected spot is laid
Some heart oñce pregnant with celestial fire ;
Hands, that the rod of empire might have sway'd,
Or wak'd to extafy 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.
Fall many a gem of pureft ray serene,
The dark unfathom'd caves of ocean bear;
Full many a flower is born to blush unseen,
And waste its sweetness on the desart air.
Some village-Hampden, that with dauntless breast,
The little Tyrant of his fields withstood ;
Some mute inglorious Milton here may reft,
Some Cromwell guiltless of his country's blood.
Th' applaufe of lift’ning senates to command,
The threats of pain and ruin to despise,
To scatter plenty o’er a smiling land,
And read their hist'ry in a nation's eyes
Their lot forbad: nor circumscrib'd alone
Their growing virtues, but their crimes confin'd;
Forbad to wade through slaughter to a throne,
And shut the gates of mercy on mankind.
The ftruggling 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.
Far from the madding crowd's ignoble ftrife,
'Their sober wishes never learn'd to stray;
Along the cool fequefter'd vale of life
They kept the noiseless tenor of their way.
Yet ev’n these bones from insult to protect
Some frail memorial ftill erected nigh,
With ancouth rhimes and shapeless sculpture deck'd,
Implores the pasling tribute of a sigh.