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Bubbing runnels join'd the sound;

Through glades and glooms the mingled measure

stole,

Or, o'er some haunted stream, with fond delay, 65 Round an holy calm diffusing,

Love of peace, and lonely musing, In hollow murmurs died away.

But O! how alter'd was its sprightlier tone
When Cheerfulness, a nymph of healthiest hue,
Her bow across her shoulder flung,

Her buskins gemm'd with morning dew,
Blew an inspiring air, that dale and thicket rung,
The hunter's call to Faun and Dryad known!
The oak-crown'd Sisters and their chaste-eyed Queen,
Satyrs and Sylvan Boys, were seen

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Peeping from forth their alleys green:

Brown Exercise rejoiced to hear;

And Sport leapt up, and seized his beechen spear.

O Music! sphere-descended maid,
Friend of Pleasure, Wisdom's aid!
Why, goddess! why, to us denied,

Last came Joy's ecstatic trial:
He, with viny crown advancing,

First to the lively pipe his hand addrest:
But soon he saw the brisk awakening viol

Whose sweet entrancing voice he loved the best: They would have thought who heard the strain

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They saw, in Tempe's vale, her native maids
Amidst the festal-sounding shades

To some unwearied minstrel dancing;
While, as his flying fingers kiss'd the strings,

Love framed with Mirth a gay fantastic round: 90
Loose were her tresses seen, her zone unbound;
And he, amidst his frolic play,

As if he would the charming air repay, Shook thousand odours from his dewy wings.

Lay'st thou thy ancient lyre aside?

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80

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As in that loved Athenian bower
You learn'd an all-commanding power,
Thy mimic soul, O Nymph endear'd,
Can well recall what then it heard.
Where is thy native simple heart
Devote to Virtue, Fancy, Art?
Arise, as in that elder time,
Warm, energic, chaste, sublime!
Thy wonders, in that god-like age,
Fill thy recording Sister's page;-
"Tis said, and I believe the tale,
Thy humblest reed could more prevail,
Had more of strength, diviner rage,
Than all which charms this laggard age:
E'en all at once together found,
Cecilia's mingled world of sound:
O bid our vain endeavours cease:
Revive the just designs of Greece:
Return in all thy simple state!
Confirm the tales her sons relate!

ODE TO EVENING

IF aught of oaten stop or pastoral song
May hope, O pensive Eve, to soothe thine ear
Like thy own solemn springs,
Thy springs, and dying gales;

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O Nymph reserved, while now the bright-hair'd

sun

Sits in yon western tent, whose cloudy skirts,
With brede ethereal wove,
O'erhang his wavy bed;

5

Now air is hush'd, save where the weak-eyed bat With short shrill shriek flits by on leathern wing, 10

Or where the beetle winds

His small but sullen horn,

Ás oft he rises midst the twilight path,
Against the pilgrim borne in heedless hum, —
Now teach me, maid composed,
To breathe some soften'd strain

For when thy folding-star arising shows
His paly circlet, at his warning lamp
The fragrant Hours, and Elves
Who slept in buds the day,

Whose numbers, stealing through thy darkening vale, May not unseemly with its stillness suit;

As, musing slow, I hail

Thy genial loved return.

And sheds the freshening dew, and, lovelier still,
The pensive Pleasures sweet,
Prepare thy shadowy car.

Then let me rove some wild and heathy scene;
Or find some ruin midst its dreary dells,

Whose walls more awful nod
By thy religious gleams.

And many a Nymph who wreathes her brows with sedge

25

Or, if chill blustering winds or driving rain
Prevent my willing feet, be mine the hut
That, from the mountain's side,
Views wilds, and swelling floods,

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And hamlets brown, and dim-discover'd spires;
And hears their simple bell; and marks o'er all
Thy dewy fingers draw
The gradual dusky veil.

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30

35

40

While Spring shall pour his showers, as oft he wont,
And bathe thy breathing tresses, meekest Eve!
While Summer loves to sport
Beneath thy lingering light;

While sallow Autumn fills thy lap with leaves; 45
Or Winter, yelling through the troublous air,
Affrights thy shrinking train
And rudely rends thy robes;

So long, regardful of thy quiet rule,

Shall Fancy, Friendship, Science, smiling Peace, 50 Thy gentlest influence own,

And love thy favourite name!

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THOMAS GRAY

IN one of Thomas Gray's letters to his friend Horace Walpole, we find this suggestive passage: "I have at the distance of half a mile, through a green lane, a forest all my own; at least as good as so, for I spy no living thing but myself. It is a little chaos of mountains and precipices and crags that give the eye as much pleasure as if they were more dangerous. Both vale and hill are covered with most venerable beeches, and other very reverend vegetables, that, like most other ancient people, are always dreaming out their old stories of the winds. At the foot of one of these squats me, I, (il penseroso) and there grows to the trunk for a whole morning. The timorous hare and sportive squirrel gambol around me like Adam in Paradise before he had an Eve; but I think he did not use to read 'Virgil' as I commonly do here."

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1716-1771

To a student of Gray this letter reveals four significant traits, love of nature, a melancholy temperament, a devotion to learning, and a playful sense of humor. This love of nature was more pronounced in Gray than in any of his contemporaries except Thomson; his melancholy was shared by Collins and Aikenside, but is more pervasive than that of either. Gray's devotion to learning we know from the testimony of his friends and from the tone of his letters. These last, together with the delicious playfulness of his lines On a Favourite Cat, likewise reveal his humorous vein.

The external facts of Gray's life are simple and few. His father is reported to have been a dissolute man who by his habitual neglect forced his wife to earn her own living as a milliner in London. Financial aid later came from other sources, and she returned to Stoke Pogis. The son, the only one of twelve children to survive infancy, was sent to Eton, only four miles from his home, and later went to Cambridge.

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