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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,
The pealing anthem swells the note of praise.
Can storied urn,3 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; 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.
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
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,
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,
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.
Or heap the shrine of luxury and pride
Far from the madding crowd's ignoble strife,
They kept the noiseless tenor of their way.
Yet e'en these bones from insult to protect
Implores the passing tribute of a sigh.
Their name, their years, spelt by the unlettered
The place of fame and elegy supply:
And many a holy text around she strews,
For who, to dumb forgetfulness a prey,
This pleasing anxious being e'er resigned,
Nor cast one longing lingering look behind?
On some fond breast the parting soul relies,
Some pious drops the closing eye requires;
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,
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:
“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
“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.
“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.”
Here rests his head upon the lap of earth
Large was his bounty, and his soul sincere,
Heaven did a recompense as largely send:
He gained from heaven ('twas all he wished) a
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:
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?
What do they mean?
Point out in the poem all the expressions you have ever heard or read quoted.