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Yet ev'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’unletter'd 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 ling'ring look behind ? On some fond breast the parting soul relies,

Some pious drops the closing eye requires;

No more, with reason and thyself at strife,

Give anxious cares and endless wishes room; But through the cool sequester'd vale of life

Pursue the silent tenour of thy doom.

And here the Poem was originally intended to conclude, before the happy idea of the hoary-headed Swain, &c. suggested itself to him. The third of these rejected stanzas has been thought equal to any in the whole Elegy.

Ev’n from the tomb the voice of Nature cries,

Ev'n in our Ashes & live their wonted Fires[43].

: Evn in our ashes live their wonted fires.

Ch'i veggio nel pensier, dolce mio fuoco,
Fredda una lingua, & due begli occhi chiusi
Rimaner doppo noi pien di faville.

Petrarch, Son. 169.

[43] Variation :~Awake and faithful to her wonted

fires. Thus (says Mr. Mason) it stood in the first and some following editions, and I think rather better; for the authority of Petrarch does not destroy the appearance of quaintness in the other: the thought, however, is rather obscurely expressed in both readings. He means to say, in plain prose, that we wish to be remembered by our friends after our death, in the same manner as when alive we wished to be remembered by them in our absence.

An anonymous writer has, in my opinion, much better illustrated the Poet's meaning in the following words:

“ After observing the desire which appears in the humblest stations to indulge the melancholy plea. sures of erecting some frail memorial, with uncouth rhymes and shapeless sculpture deck'd, imploring the passing tribute of a sigh' for departed friends, the Poet, in the belief that the anticipation of this pious act is consolatory to the deceased themselves in their last moments, bursts into this beauti. For thee, who, mindful of th' unhonour'd Dead

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

Some kindred Spirit shall enquire 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[44],

ful interrogatory. Who is there, what indifferent wretch ever existed, who, a prey to dull forgetfulness, left this pleasing anxious being, without casting a longing lingering look behind him ? For (he adds) on some fond breast the parting soul relies; that is, some kind consoling friend is ever looked up to on those occasions, in whose soothing attentions, from whose pious tears the closing eye derives comfort, and the pangs of dissolution are assuaged; the companion, the sharer of the sunshine of life, who now, in the last gloomy hour of its evening, promises to pay that last sad and simple tribute which is to supply the place of

fame and elegy. For, though sinking into the tomb, E arrived at its very border, still are we alive to the

feelings and sensibilities of humanity; in our very 1ashes still glow our former passions and affections."

[44] Variation :-On the high brow of yonder hang

ing lawn. After which, in the first manuscript, followed this stanza :

« 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,

“ Mutt'ring his wayward fancies he would rove; “ Now drooping, woeful-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 fav’rite tree; « Another came; nor yet beside the rill,

“ Nor up the lawn, nor at the wood was he;

Him have we seen the greenwood side along,

While o'er the heath we hied, our labour done, Oft as the woodlark pip'd her farewell song,

With wistful eyes pursue the setting sun.

“ I rather wonder (says Mr. Mason) that he rejected this stanza, as it not only has the same sort of Doric delicacy which charms us peculiarly in this part of the Poem, but also completes the account of his whole day : whereas, this Evening scene being omitted, we have only his Morning walk, and his Noontide repose.”

" The next with dirges due in sad array . | “Slow thro'. the church-way path we saw him

“ borne, * Approach and read (for thou can’st read) the lay “Grav'd on the stone beneath yon aged thorn."


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