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The boast of heraldry,' the pomp of power,
And all the beauty, all that wealth e'er gave,
Await alike the inevitable hour:

The paths of glory lead but to the grave.

Nor you, ye proud, impute to these the fault,
If memory o'er their tomb no trophies raise,
Where through the long drawn aisle and fretted 2
vault

The pealing anthem swells the note of praise.

Can storied urn,3 or animated bust,*

Back to its mansion call the fleeting breath?
Can Honor'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; 5 Hands, that the rod of empire might have swayed, Or waked 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 repressed their noble rage,

And froze the genial current of the soul.

1 Heraldry, noble rank, " blue blood."

2 Fretted, ornamented with fret work.

3 Storied urn, the urn containing the ashes of the dead, storied

or distinguished by tales of their greatness.

4 Animated bust, bust of marble so perfect as to seem alive.

5 Filled with heavenly ambition.

Full many a gem of purest ray serene

The dark unfathomed caves of ocean bear; Full many a flower is born to blush unseen,

nd waste its sweetness on the desert air.

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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. 60

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The applause of listening senates to command,

The threats of pain and ruin to despise, To scatter plenty o'er smiling land,

And read their history in a nation's eyes,

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Their lot forbade; nor circumscribed alone

Their growing virtues, but their crimes confined: Forbade 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,

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1 Hampden, a noted English statesman; Village Hampden, a villager with enough ability to have become a Hampden under favorable circumstances.

2 Milton, the great Puritan poet of England.

3 Cromwell, the great Puritan leader, who controlled the destinies of the nation between the reign of Charles I and that of Charles II.

* Ingenuous, honest, simple.

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Or heap the shrine of luxury and pride
With incense kindled at the Muse's 1 flame.

Far from the madding crowd's ignoble strife,
Their sober wishes never learned to stray;
Along the cool sequestered2 vale of life

They kept the noiseless tenor of their way.

Yet e'en these bones from insult to protect
Some frail memorial still erected nigh,
With uncouth rhymes and shapeless sculpture

decked,

Implores the passing tribute of a sigh.

Their name, their years, 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 a prey,

This pleasing anxious being e'er resigned,
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;
E'en from the tomb the voice of nature cries,
E'en in our ashes live their wonted fires.

1 Muse, the goddess of poetry.

2 Sequestered, separated, secluded.

For thee, who, mindful of the unhonored dead,

Dost in these lines their artless tale relate; If chance, by lonely contemplations led,

Some kindred spirit shall inquire thy fate,

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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 lawn:

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“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 babbles by

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“Hard by yon wood, now smiling as in scorn,

Muttering his wayward fancies would he rove, Now drooping, woeful wan, like one forlorn,

Or crazed with care, or crossed in hopeless love.

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“One morn I missed him on the customed hill,

Along the heath, and near his favorite 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 Slow through the churchway path we saw him

borne: Approach and read (for thou can'st read) the lay 115

Graved on the stone beneath yon aged thorn.”

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THE EPITAPH

Here rests his head upon the lap of earth
A 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 ('twas all he wished) a
friend.

No farther 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:

THOMAS GRAY.

QUESTIONS FOR STUDY

Try to draw in words or with pencil, or both, the picture of the first stanza.

Stanza 3. Why does the poet call the owl moping?
Memorize the lines 53-56.

What do they mean?

Point out in the poem all the expressions you have ever heard or read quoted.

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