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POEMS

Of

THOMAS GRAY.

ODE ON THE SPRING.

Ln! where the rosy-hosom'd Hours,

Fair Venus' train appear,
Disclose the long-expecting flowers,

And wake the purple year!
The attic warbler pours her throat,
Responsive to the cuckoo's note,

The untaught harmony of Spring:
While, whispering pleasure as they fly,
Cool Zephyrs through the clear blue sky

Their gather'd fragrance fling.

Where'er the oak's thick branches stretch

A hroader, hrowner shade;
Where'er the rude and moss-grown heech

OVr-canopies the giade',
Beside some water's rushy brink
With me the Muse shall sit, and think

(At ease reclin'd in rustic state)
How vain the ardour of the crowd,
How low, how little are the proud,

How indigent the great!

Still is the toiling hand of Care:

The panting herd's repose:
Yet hark, how through the peopled air

The busy murmur glows f
The insect youth are on the wing,
Eager to taste the honied spring.

And float amid the liquid noon *:
Some lightly o'er the current skim,
Some show their gayly-gilded trim

Quick-glancing to the Sun i.

i a hank

OVr-canopied with luscious woodbine.

Shaksp. Mids. Night's Dream. i Narc per aestatem liquidam—

Virg. Georg. lib. iv.

* sporting with quick glance

Show to the Sun their waved coats dropp'd with gold. Milton's Paradise Lost, Book ii. VOL xrv.

To Contemplation's soher eye 4

Such is the race of man:
And they that creep, and they I hat fly,

Shall end where they hegan.
Alike the husy and the gay
But flutter through life's little day.

In Fortune's varying colours drest: Brush'd hy the hand of rough Mischance; Or chill'd hy Age, their airy dance

They leave in dust to rest.

Mcthinks I hear in accents low

The slKirtive kind reply;
"Poor moralist! and what art thou?

A solitary fly!
Thy joys no glittering female meets,
No hive hart thou of hoarded sweets,

No painted plumage to display:
On hasty wings thy youth is flown:
Thv sun is set, thv spring is gone—

We frolic while''tis May."

ODE

ON THE DEATH OF A FAVOURITE CIT,
DROWNED IN A TCB OF COLD FISHES.

Twas on a lofty vase's side,
Where China's gayest art had dy'd

The azure flowers that hlow;
Demurest of the tabby kind,
The pensive Selima reclin'd,

Gaz'd on the lake below.

Her conscious tail her joy deelar'd;
The fair round face, the snowy beard,

The velvet of her paws,
Her coat, that with the tortoise vies,
Her ears of jet, and emerald eyes,

She saw; and purr'd applause.

4 While insects from the threshold preach, icc.

M. Green, in the Grotto. D'Xlsley's Miscellanies, vol. v. p. I6I. 146 GRAY'S

Still had she gaz'd; but 'midst the tide
Two angel forms were seen to glide,

The Genii of the stream:
Their scaly armour's Tyrian hue
Through richest purple to the view

Betray'd a golden gleam.

The hapless nymph with wonder saw:
A whisker first, and then a claw,

With many an ardent wish,
She stietch'd in vain to reach the prize;
What female heart can gold despise?

What cat's averse to fish?

Presumptuous maid! with looks intent Again she stretch'd, again she bent,

Nor knew the gulf between. (Malignant Fate sate by, and smil'd) The slippery verge her feet beguil'd,

She tumbled headlong in. Eight times emerging from the flood
She mew'd to every watry god,

Some speedy aid to send.
No Dolphin came, no Nereid stirr'd;
Nor cruel Tom, nor Susan heard,

A favourite has no friend!

From hence, ye beauties, undeceiv'd,
Know, one false step is ne'er retriev'd,

And be with caution bold.
Not all, that tempts your wandering eyes
And heedless hearts, is lawful prize;

Not all that glisters, gold.

ODE

ON A DISTANT PROSPECT OF ETON COLLEGE.

* Av0fiu7ro;' IxaWi trfoprttn; ii; To 2v;vxtLi.

Menander.

Ye distant spires, ye antique towers,

That crown the watry glade,
Where grateful Science still adores

Her Henry's i holy shade;
And ye, that from the stately brow
Of Windsor's heights th' expanse below

Of grove, of lawn, of mead survey,
Whose turf, whose shade, whose flowers among
Wanders the hoary Thames along

His silver-winding way.

Ah, happy hills, ah, pleasing shade,

Ah, fields hclov'd in vain,
Where once my careless childhood stray'd,

A stranger yet to pain!
I feel the gales, that from ye blow,
A momentary hliss hestow,

As waving fresh their gladsome wing,
My weary soul they seem to sooth,
And, redolent of joy and youth

To breathe a second spring.

i King Henry the Sixth, founder of the college. 2 And bees their honey redolent of spring.

Dryden's Fahle on the Pythag. System.

Say, father Thames, for thou hast seen

Full many a sprightly race
Disporting on thy margent green

The paths of pleasure trace,
Who foremost now delight to cleave
With pliant arm thy glassy wave?

The captive linnet which enthrall?
What idle progeny succeed
To chase the rolling circle's speed,

Or urge the flying ball?

While some on earnest husiness hent

Their murmuring labours ply
'Gainst graver hours, that bring constraint

To sweeten liberty;
Some bold adventurers disdain
The limits of their little reign,

And unknown regions dare descry:
Still as they run they look behind,
They hear a voice in every wind,

And snatch a fearful joy.

Gay Hope is theirs, hy Fancy fed,

Less pleasing, when possest; The tear forgot as soon as shed,

The sunshine of the breast: Theirs buxom health, of rosy hue; Wild wit, invention ever new,

And lively cheer of vigour hom; The thoughtless day, the easy night, The spirits pure, the slumhers light,

That fly th' approach of morn.

Alas, regardless of their doom,

The little victims play!
No sense have they of ills to come,

Nor care heyond to day. »
Yet see how all around them wait
The ministers of human fate,

And black Misfortune's baleful train,
Ah, show them where in ambush stand
To seize their prey, the murderous band!Ah, tell them, they are men!

These shall the fury passions tear,

The vultures of the mind,
Disdainful Anger, pallid Fear,

And Shame that skulks behind;
Or pining Love, shall waste their youth,
Or Jealousy, with rankling tooth,

That inly gnaws the secret heart,
And Envy wan, and faded Care,
Grim-visag'd comfortless Despair, And Sorrow's piercing dart.

Amhition this shall tempt to rise,

Then whirl the wretch from high,
To hitter Scorn a sacrifice,

And grinning Infamy,
The stings of Falsehood those shall try,
And hard Unkindness' alter'd eye,

That mocks the tear it fore'd to flow;
And keen Remorse, with hlood defil'd.
And moody Madness 3 laughing wild Amid severest woe.

s Madness laughing in his ireful meod.

Dryden's Fahle of Palamon and Arcite, HYMN TO

to, in the rale of years heneath

A grisly troop are seen,
The painful family of Death,

More hideous than their queen:
This racks the joints, this fires the veins,
That every lahouring sinew strains,

Those in the deeper vitals rage:
Lo, Poverty, to fill the band,
That numbs the soul with icy hand,

And slow-consuming Age.

To each his sufferings: all are men,

Coudemn'd alike to groan; The tender for another's pain,

The unfeeling for his own. Yet ah! why should they know their fate! Since sorrow never comes too late,

And happiness too swiftly flies. Thought would destroy their Paradise. No more; where ignorance is hliss,

Tis folly to be wise.

HYMN TO ADVERSITY.

Zna

To, ippvvi7v iSfsltf; hiua

©rila xvfiw; tytn

iEschylus, in Agamemnone.

D*fchte» of Jove, relentless power,

Thou tamer of the human breast,
Whose iron scourge, and torturing hour,

The bad affright, afflict the hest!
Bound in thy adamantine chain
The proud are taught to taste of pain,
And purple tyrants vainly groan
With pangs unfelt hefore, unpitied, and alone.

When first thy sire to send on Earth

Virtue, his darling child, design'd, To thee he gave the heavenly hirth,

And bade to form her infant mind. Stem rugged nurse; thy rigid lore With patience many a year she hore: What sorrow was, thou bad'st her know, And from her own she learn'd to melt at others woe.

Scar'd at thy frown terrific, fly

Self-pleasing Folly's idle hrood,
Wdd Laughter, Noise, and thoughtless Joy,

And leave us leisure to he good.
Light they disperse, and with them go
The summer friend, the flattering foe;
By vain Prosperity receiv'd,
To her they vow their truth, and arc again heliev'd.

Wisdom, in sahle garh array'd,

Immers'd in rapturous thought profound, And Melancholy, silent maid, With leaden eye, that loves the ground, Still on thy solemn steps attend:Warm Charity, the general friend, With Justice, to herself severe, And Pity, dropping soft the sadly-pleasing tear.

Oh, gently on thy suppliant's head, Dread goddess, lay thy chastening hand!

Not in thy gorgon terrour's clad,
Nor circled with the vengeful ha»l,

ADVERSITY... .ELEGY. I47(As hy the impious thou art seen)
With thundering voice, and threatening mien,
With screaming Horrour's funeral cry,
Despair, and fell Disease, and ghastly Poverty.

Thy form henign, oh, goddess, wear,

Thy milder influence impart,
Thy philosophic train he there

To soften, not to wound, my heart.
The generous spark extinct revive,
Teach me to love and to forgive,
Exact my own defects to scan,
What others are, to feel, and know myself a man.

ELEGY

WRITTEN IN A COUNTRT CHURCH-YARD.

The curfew tollsi the knell of parting day,
The lowing herd 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,
And all the air a solemn stillness holds,

Save where the beetle wheels his droning flight,
And drowsy tinklings lull the distant folds:

Save that, from yonder ivy-mantled tower,
The moping owl does to the Moon complain

Of such as, wandering near her secret hower,
Molest her ancient solitary reign.

Beneath those rugged elms, that yew-tree's shade,
Where heaves the turf in many a mouldering 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 twittering from the straw-huilt shed,

The cock's shrill clarion, or the echoing horn,
No more shall rouse them from their lowly hed.

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,
Or climb his knees the envied kiss to share.

Oft did the harvest to their sickle yield,

Their furrow oft the stuhhorn glehe has broke;

How jocund did they drive their team afield!
How how'd the woods heneath their sturdy stroke!

Let not Amhition mock their useful toil,
Their homely joys, and destiny ohscure;

Nor Grandeur hear with a disdainful smile,
The short and simple annals of the poor.

The hoast of heraldry, the pomp of power,
And all that beauty, all that weal h e'er gave,

Await alike th' inevitable hour,
The paths of glory lead hut to the grave.

Nor you, ye proud, impute to these the fault,
If Memory o'er their tomh uo trophies raise,

Where through the long drawn aisle and fretted vault,
The peeling anthem swells the note of praise.

i squills di lontano

Che paia 'I giorno pianger, che si muore.

Dante. PurgaU I. 8.

Can storied urn or animated bust

Back to its mansion call the fleeting breath? Can Honour's voice provoke the silent dust,

Or Flattery soothe the dull cold ear of Death?

Perhaps in this neglected spot is laid Some heart once pregnant with celestial fire;

Hands, that the rod of empire might have sway'd,
Or wak'd to ecstasy 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.

Full many a gem of purest ray serene,
The dark unfathom'd caves of ocean bear:

Fidl many a flower is born to blush unseen,
And waste its sweetness on the desert air.

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

Th' applause of listening senates to command,
The threats of pain and ruin to despise,

To scatter plenty o'er a smiling land,
And read their history 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 struggling 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 strife,
Their sober wishes never learn'd to stray;Along the cool sequester'd vale of life

They kept the noiseless tenour of their way.

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

Their name, their years, spelt by th' unlettertf Muse,
The place of fame and elegy supply:

And many a holy text around she strews,
That teach the rustic moralist to die.

For who, to dumb Forgetfulness a prey,
This pleasing anxious being e'er resign'd,

Left the warm precincts of the cheerful day,
Nor cast one longing lingering look behind?

On some fond breast the parting soul relies.
Some pious drops the closing eye requires;

F.v'n from the tomb the voice of Nature cries,
Ev'n in our ashes live their wonted fires'.

1 Ch'i veggio ncl pensier, dolce mio fuoco,
Fralda una lingua, et due begli occhi chiusi
Riinaner doppo noi pien di faville.
'' *Petrarch, Son, 16'J.

For thee, who, mindful of th' unhonourM dead,
Dost in these lines their artless tale relate;

If chance, by lonely Contemplation led,
Some kiudred 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 law n.

"There at the foot of yonder nodding beech
That wreathes its old fantastic roots so high.

His listless length at. noontide would he stretch,
And pore upon the brook that bubbles by.

"Hard by yon wood, now smiling as in scorn, Muttering his wayward fancies he would rove, Now drooping woful wan, like one forlorn, Or craz'd with care, or cross'd in hopeless love.

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

"The next with dirges due in sad array [borne.

Slow through the church-way path we saw him Approach and read (for thou canst read) the lay,

Grav'd on the stone beneath yon aged thorn."

THE EPITAPH.

Here rests his head upon the lap of L'arth,
A youth to fortune and to fame unknown,

Fair Science frown'd not on his humble birth,
And Melancholy mark'd 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; [friend.

He gain'd from Heaven ('twas all he wish'd) a

No further seek his merits to disclose, Or draw his frailties from their dread abode, (There they alike in trembling hope repose ')
The bosom of his Father and his God.

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