« PreviousContinue »
Far from the madding crowd's ignoble strife,
Their sober wishes never learn’d to stray; Along the cool sequester'd vale of life
They kept the noiseless tenour of their way.
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.
And thou who, mindful of th' unhonour'd Dead,
Dost in these notes their artless tale relate,
To wander in the gloomy walks of fate:
Hark! how the sacred calm, that breathes around,
Bids every fierce tumultuous passion cease;
A grateful earnest of eternal peace.
No more, with reason and thyself at strife,
Give anxious cares and endless wishes room;
Pursue the silent tenor 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. Mr. Mason thinks the third of these rejected stanzas equal to any in the whole Elegy.
Their name, their years, spelt by th' unletter'd
That teach the rustic Moralist to die.
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; Ev’n from the tomb the voice of Nature cries,
Ev’n in our Ashes  live their wonted Fires (l).
 Variation :-Awake and faithful to her wonted fires.
Thus (says Mr. Mason) it stood in the first and some following edi. tions, 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.
(1) Evin in our ashes live their wonted fires.
Ch'i veggio nel pensier, dolçe mio fuoco,
Petrarch, Son. 169.
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,
66 To meet the sun upon the upland lawn .
• There at the foot of yonder nodding beech,
“. That wreathes its old fantastic roots so high, 6 His listless length at noontide would he stretch,
“ And pore upon the brook that babbles by.
 Variation :--On the high brow of yonder hanging lawn. After which, in his first manuscript, followed this stanza:
Him have we seen the greenwood side along,
While o'er the heath we hied, our labour done,
With wistful eyes pursue the setting sun. u 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 Noon-tide repose.”