« AnteriorContinuar »
No more the drops of piercing grief
Nor the meridian sun decline
There all the millions of his saints
And each the bliss of all shall view
AN EVENING HYMN, TO BE USED WHEN COM-
Interval of grateful shade,
Day and night I'm still with Thee!
What though downy slumbers flee,
Far above the spangled skies,
Thus to sleep or wake with Thee!
What if death my sleep invade?
Which no more shall yield to night!
THOMAS GRAY was born 1716, in London, where his father, a man of morose and violent disposition, followed the profession of a scrivener. Gray was educated at Eton, where he formed a friendship with Horace Walpole; and at the University of Cambridge, where he devoted himself to the study of law. His temperament exhibits a melancholy which was probably induced or fostered by the abiding clouds and memories of early domestic bitterness. He was appointed to the Professorship of History in his University; but his indolence would not allow him to fulfil the duties of his office, even to the extent of preparing his lectures. He closed, in 1771, a life of academical seclusion, only varied by a tour, during which he visited France and Italy, in company with Walpole, and by periodical visits to London. Of the works of Gray, "The Bard," "The Progress of Poesy," and others, the one by which he will ever continue to be best known is his famous "Elegy in a Country Churchyard."
'Gray," says Hazlitt, "was an author of great pretensions, but of great merit. He has an air of sublimity, if not the reality. He aims at the highest things; and if he fails, it is only by a hair's breadth. His pathos is injured, like his sublimity, by too great an ambition
after the ornaments and machinery of poetry. His craving after foreign help perhaps shows the want of the internal impulse."
ELEGY WRITTEN IN A COUNTRY CHURCHYARD.
The curfew tolls the knell of parting day,
The lowing herds wind 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,
Save that from yonder ivy-mantled tower,
Beneath those rugged elms, that yew-tree's shade,
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,
No more shall rouse them from their lowly bed.
For them no more the blazing hearth shall burn,
No children run to lisp their sire's return,
Or climb his knees the envied kiss to share.
Oft did the harvest to their sickle yield,
Their furrow oft the stubborn glebe has broke; How jocund did they drive their team a-field!
How bowed the woods beneath their sturdy stroke!
Let not Ambition mock their useful toil,
Their homely joys, and destiny obscure; Nor Grandeur hear with a disdainful smile The short and simple annals of the poor.
The boast of heraldry, the pomp of power,
The paths of glory lead but to the grave.
Nor you, ye proud, impute to these the fault,
Can storied urn or animated bust
Back to its mansion call the fleeting breath?
Perhaps in this neglected spot is laid
Some heart once pregnant with celestial fire;
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;
Some village Hampden, that with dauntless breast
The applause of listening senates to command,
To scatter plenty o'er a smiling land,