Verse > Anthologies > Andrew Macphail, ed. > The Book of Sorrow
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Andrew Macphail, comp.  The Book of Sorrow.  1916.
 
IV. Inevitable
From ‘Elegy written in a Country Churchyard’
By Thomas Gray (1716–1771)
 
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THE CURFEW tolls the knell of parting day,
  The lowing herd wind slowly o’er the lea,
The ploughman homeward plods his weary way,
  And leaves the world to darkness and to me.
 
Now fades the glimmering landscape on the sight,        5
  And all the air a solemn stillness holds,
Save where the beetle wheels his droning flight,
  And drowsy tinklings lull the distant folds:
 
Save that from yonder ivy-mantled tower
  The moping owl does to the moon complain        10
Of such as, wand’ring near her secret bow’r,
  Molest her ancient solitary reign.
 
Beneath those rugged elms, that yew-tree’s shade,
  Where heaves the turf in many a mould’ring heap,
Each in his narrow cell for ever laid,        15
  The rude forefathers of the hamlet sleep.
 
The breezy call of incense-breathing morn,
  The swallow twitt’ring from the straw-built shed,
The cock’s shrill clarion, or the echoing horn,
  No more shall rouse them from their lowly bed.        20
 
For them no more the blazing hearth shall burn,
  Or busy housewife ply her evening care:
No children run to lisp their sire’s return,
  Or climb his knees the envied kiss to share.
 
Oft did the harvest to their sickle yield,        25
  Their furrow oft the stubborn glebe has broke:
How jocund did they drive their team afield!
  How bowed the woods beneath their sturdy stroke!
 
Let not Ambition mock their useful toil,
  Their homely joys, and destiny obscure;        30
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:        35
  The paths of glory lead but to the grave….
 
 
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