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Gray, Thomas - From Elegy written in a country churchyard



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A description of the experience

From Elegy written in a country churchyard – Thomas Gray

Let not ambition mock their useful toil,
Their homely joys and destiny obscure
Nor grandeur hear 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 e'er gave
Await alike th'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 vault
The pealing anthem swells the note of praise

Can storied 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 waked to ecstasy the living lyre
Full many a gem of purest ray serene
The dark unfathomed caves of ocean bear
Full many a flower is born to blush unseen,
And waste its sweetness on the desert air.
Their lot forbade; nor circumscribed alone
Their growing virtues, but their crimes confined;
Forbad to wade through slaughter to a throne
And shut the gates of mercy on mankind;
Far from the madding crowd's ignoble strife
Their sober wishes never learned to stray;
Along the cool sequestered vale of life
They kept the noiseless tenour of their way.

The source of the experience

Gray, Thomas

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