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The curfew tolls the knell of parting day.
The lowing herd winds slowly o'er the lee.
The ploughman homeward plods his weary way.
And leaves the world to darkness.
And to me.
Now fades the glimmering landscape on the site.
And all the air a solemn stillness holds.
Save where the beetle wheels his drewning flight.
And drowsy tinklings lull the distant folds.
Save that from yonder isly mantle tower.
The moping owl doest to the moon complain.
Of such as, wondering near her secret bower.
Molest her ancient solitary reign.
Beneath those rugged elms that yew tree shade.
Where heaves the turf in many a mouldering heap.
Each in his narrow cell forever laid.
The rude forefathers of the hamlets.
The breezy call of incense breathing morn.
The swallow twittering from the strawdirt church.
The cock's shrill clarion of the echoing hoard.
No more to arouse them from their noble death.
For them no more the blazing hearths will burn.
Or busy housewifes ply their evening care.
No children run to list their sires return.
Or climb his knees, the envied kiss to share.
Oft' did the harvest to their sick weald.
Their furrow oft' a stubborn glebe was broke.
How jockened did they drive their team afield.
How bowed the woods beneath their sturdy stroke.
Let not ambition rock their useful toil.
Their homely joys and destiny obscure.
Nor grandeur here with a disdainful smile.
The short and simple annals of the poor.
The boast of heraldry.
The pomp of power.
And all that beauty.
All that wealth 'er-gave.
Awakes alike the inevitable hour.
The paths of glory lead but to the grave.
Nor you 'ere prow.
Impute to these the fault of memory.
Or their tool no trophies raise.
Where through the long drawn aisle.
Of threaded vault.
The peeling anthem swells a note of praise.
The stored 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 swayed.
Or wake to ecstacy.
The living liar.
The knowledge to their eyes.
Her ample page.
Rich with the spoils of time.
Did n'er unroll.
'Til penury repressed their noble rage.
And froze the genial current of the soul.
For many a gem of purest ray serene.
The dark unfathomed caves of ocean bear.
For many a flower is born to blush unseen.
And wasted sweetness on the desert air.
Some village hamlet.
But with dauntless breast the little tyrant of his fields.
Withstood some mute and glorious pilgrim.
Here may rest.
Some Cromwell guiltless of his country's blood.
The applause of listening senates to command.
The threats of pain and ruin to despise.
To scatter plenty o'er a smiling land.
And weave their history in a nation's eyes.
Their lot forbade.
Nor circumscribed alone their growing virtues.
But their crimes confide.
The mad to wade through slaughter to a throne.
And shut the gates of mercy on mankind.
The struggling pangs of concious truth to hide.
To quench the blushes of ingenious shame.
Or heat the shrine of luxury and pride.
With incense kindled at the muses' flame.
Far from the madding crowds.
Their sober wishes never learned to stray.
Along the cool sequestered vale of life.
They kept the noiseless tenor of their way.
Yet in these bones, from insult.
To protect some frail memorial.
Still erected nigh.
With uncouth rhymes.
And shapeless sculptured debt.
Implores the passing tribute of a sigh.
Spelt by the unlettered 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 at pray.
This pleasing anxious being 'er resigned.
Left the warm precints of the cheerful day.
Or cast one longing, lingering look behind.
On some fond breast the parting soul relies.
Some pious drops the closing eye requires.
E'en from the tomb.
The voice of nature cries.
E'en in our ashes live their wonted fires.
To thee, who mindful of the un-honoured dead.
Doest in these lines their artless tale relate.
If chance, by lonely contemplation led.
To some kindred spirit, should enquire thy fate.
Happily some hoary headed swain may say.
Oft' we've seen him at the peep of dawn.
Brushing with hasty steps the dews away.
To meet the sun upon the aplen lawn.
There at the foot of yonder nodding beach.
That weaves its old fantastic route so high.
Its listless lenght at moontide.
Would he stretch.
And pour upon the brook that babbles by.
Hard by yon wood.
Now smiling at him scorn.
Muttering his wayward fancys he would roam.
Would for one.
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 favourite tree.
Nor yet beside the rill.
Nor up the lawn.
Nor at the wood was he.
Its dirges due in sad array.
Slow through the churchway path.
We saw him borne.
Approach and read.
For thou canst read.
The ley graved on the stone.
Beneath yon aged thorn.
Here rests his head.
Upon the lap of earth.
The youth to fortune and to fame unknown.
Fair science frowned not on his humble birth.
And melancholy marked 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, he gained from heaven.
T'was all he wished.
No father 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.