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'There at the foot of yonder nodding beech, That wreaths its old fantastic roots so high, His listless length at noontide would he stretch, And pore upon the brook that babbles 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 crazed 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, Graved on the stone beneath yon aged thorn.'
HERE rests his head upon the lap of earth
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.
1 Before the Epitaph, Mr. Gray originally inserted a very beautiful stanza, which was printed in some of the first editions, but afterwards omitted because he thought that it was too long a parenthesis in this place. The lines however are, in themselves, exquisitely fine, and demand preservation.
There scatter'd oft, the earliest of the year,
By hands unseen are showers of violets found;
And little footsteps lightly print the ground.
Large was his bounty, and his soul sincere,
He gain'd from Heaven ('twas all he wish'd) a friend.
No farther seek his merits to disclose,
Or draw his frailties from their dread abode (There they alike in trembling 2 hope repose), The bosom of his Father and his God.
Petrarch, Son. 114.
Posthumous Poems and Fragments.
ON THE PLEASURE ARISING FROM VICISSITUDE '.
Now the golden Morn aloft
New-born flocks, in rustic dance,
The birds his presence greet:
Rise, my Soul! on wings of fire,
Rise the rapturous choir among; Hark! 'tis Nature strikes the lyre, And leads the general song:
I Left unfinished by Mr. Gray: with additions, in brackets, by Mr. Mason. The first idea of this Ode was taken from M. Gresset's Epitre à ma Sœur.'
(Warm let the lyric transport flow, Warm as the
that bids it glow; And animates the vernal grove With health, with harmony, and love.] Yesterday the sullen year
Saw the snowy whirlwind fly;
The herd stood drooping by :
Soft Reflection's hand can trace;
A melancholy grace; While Hope prolongs our happier hour, Or deepest shades, that dimly lower And blacken round our weary way, Gilds with a gleam of distant day. Still, where rosy Pleasure leads, See a kindred Grief
pursue; Behind the steps that Misery treads
Approaching Comfort view:
On the thorny bed of pain,
And breathe, and walk again :
The meanest floweret of the vale,
Near the source whence Pleasure flows; She eyes the clear crystalline well,
And tastes it as it goes.
[Sooth'd by Flattery's tinkling sound,] Go, softly rolling, side by side,
Their dull but daily round:
Up to Power's meridian height;
And sickens at the sight. Phantoms of Danger, Death, and Dread, Float hourly round Ambition's head; While Spleen, within his rival's breast, Sits brooding on her scorpion nest. Happier he, the Peasant, far, From the
of Passion free, That breathes the keen yet wholesome air
Qf rugged Penury.