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And, would the noble Duchess deign*
To listen to an old man's strain,

Though stiff his hand, his voice though weak,
He thought e'en yet, the sooth* to speak,
That if she loved the harp to hear,

He could make music to her ear.
The humble boon was soon obtained;
The aged Minstrel audience * gained.
But, when he reached the room of state,
Where she, with all her ladies, sate,
Perchance he wished his boon denied ;
For, when to tune his harp he tried,
His trembling hand had lost the ease,
Which marks security * to please;
And scenes, long past, of joy and pain,
Came wildering o'er his aged brain-
He tried to tune his harp in vain.
The pitying Duchess praised its chime,'
And gave him heart,* and gave him time,
Till every string's according* glee
Was blended into harmony.


And then, he said, he would full fain
He could recall an ancient strain

He never thought to sing again.

It was not framed for village churls,*
But for high dames and mighty earls ;







He had played it to King Charles* the Good 80
When he kept court in Holyrood; *

And much he wished, yet feared, to try
The long-forgotten melody."



Amid the strings his fingers strayed,
And an uncertain warbling made-
And oft he shook his hoary * head:
But when he caught the measure wild,
The old man raised his face, and smiled;
And lightened up his faded eye
With all a poet's ecstasy!
In varying cadence,* soft or strong,
He swept the sounding chords* along:
The present scene, the future lot,
His toils, his wants, were all forgot;
Cold diffidence,* and age's frost,
In the full tide of song were lost;

Each blank * in faithless memory void,
The poet's glowing thought supplied;
And, while his harp responsive* rung,
'Twas thus the LATEST MINSTREL sung.

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THOMAS GRAY (1716-1771) was born in London. He was educated at Eton and Cambridge, where he became Professor of Modern History. Gray left few works, but these are of the most perfect finish. Chief poems: The Elegy, Ode to Eton College, The Bard, and the Ode to Adversity.

YE distant spires, ye antique* towers,
That crown the watery glade,*
Where grateful science still adores
Her Henry's * holy shade ;

5 And ye that from the stately brow
Of Windsor's heights th' expanse below
Of grove, of lawn, of mead survey,

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Whose turf, whose shade, whose flowers among,
Wanders the hoary* Thames along,
His silver-winding way.

Ah, happy hills, ah, pleasing shade,
Ah, fields beloved in vain,

Where once my careless childhood strayed,

A stranger yet to pain!

I feel the gales that from you blow

A momentary bliss * bestow,

As waving fresh their gladsome wing,
My weary soul they seem to soothe,
And, redolent of joy and youth,


To breathe a second spring.

Say, Father Thames, for thou hast seen
Full many a sprightly race,
Disporting on thy margent * green,
The paths of pleasure trace,

25 Who foremost now delight to cleave,
With pliant arm thy glassy wave?


The captive linnet which enthral?

What idle progeny * succeed
To chase the rolling circle's speed,

Or urge the flying ball?

While some on earnest business bent,
Their murm'ring labours ply,

Antique, ancient.
Glade, an open space.

Henry's, Henry VI. was founder of the college.

Windsor Castle, one of the royal resid


Hoary, being of a whitish colour. Thames, the chief river in England, rises in the Cotswold Hills, and flows into the German Ocean.

Momentary bliss,
great happiness last-
ing for a very short
Redolent, full of.

Margent, the border or edge; here it means the banks of the river.


Enthral, to enslave.
Progeny, race.

'Gainst graver hours that bring constraint*

To sweeten liberty;

Constraint, confine


• Eton College on the Thames, near Windsor, is a preparatory college for the Universities

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That mocks the tear it forced to flow;
And keen* remorse,* with blood defiled,
And moody* madness laughing wild,
Amidst severest woe.

Lo, in the vale of years beneath

A grisly troop are seen,

The painful family of death,

More hideous than their queen:

This racks the joints, this fires the veins,

That ev'ry labouring sinew strains,
Those in the deeper vitals rage;

Lo, poverty, to fill the band,

That numbs the soul with icy hand;
And slow-consuming * age.

To each his suffering; all are men,
Condemned alike to groan;

The tender for another's pain,

Th' unfeeling for his own.

Yet ah! why should they know their fate?
Since sorrow never comes too late,

And happiness too swiftly flies;

Thought would destroy their paradise—
No more ;-where ignorance is bliss,
"Tis folly to be wise.

Keen, sharp, cutting Remorse, the gnawing pain of guilt. Moody, gloomy, angry.

Racks, tortures,

Consuming, wasting



OLIVER GOLDSMITH (1728-1774) was born in Ireland, and attended Trinity College, Dublin. After a roving life, for some time spent on the Continent, he settled in London, living at one time as usher in a school. He died in distress and debt. The union of perfect refinement with perfect simplicity is the chief characteristic of his works. Chief works: The Traveller, and The Deserted Village, among his poems; and The Citizen of the World, and The Vicar of Wakefield, among his prose writings.


SWEET Auburn! * loveliest village of the plain,
Where health and plenty cheered the labouring
swain ;


Where smiling Spring its earliest visit paid,
And parting Summer's lingering blooms delayed;
Dear lovely bowers* of innocence and ease,
Seats of my youth, when every sport could please;
How often have I loitered o'er thy green,
Where humble happiness endeared each scene!

Auburn, the "village" here described probably is Lissoy, in West Meath, in Ireland, where

the poet spent his


Swain, a peasant,

a servant.
Bower, a garden

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tinuous sound of many distant


How often have I paused on every charm ;—
The sheltered cot,* the cultivated farm,
The never-failing brook,* the busy mill,


The decent church that topped the neighbouring

The hawthorn bush, with seats beneath the shade,
For talking age and whispering lovers made!
How often have I blessed the coming day,
When toil, remitting, lent its turn to play;
And all the village train,* from labour free,
Led up their sports beneath the spreading tree;
While many a pastime circled in the shade,
The young contending, as the old surveyed;
And many a gambol frolicked o'er the ground,
And sleights of art and feats of strength went






And still, as each repeated pleasure tired,
Succeeding sports the mirthful band inspired:
The dancing pair, that simply sought renown
By holding out to tire each other down;
The swain, mistrustless* of his smutted face,
While secret laughter tittered round the place;
The bashful virgin's sidelong looks of love;





The matron's* glance that would those looks re- 30 prove ;

These were thy charms, sweet village! sports like


With sweet succession, taught e'en toil to please. Sweet was the sound, when oft, at evening's close,


The village mur Up yonder hill the village murmur rose;
mur, the low con
There as I passed, with careless steps and slow,
The mingling notes came softened from below:-
The swain, responsive* as the milk-maid sung;
The sober herd, that lowed to meet their young;
The noisy geese, that gabbled o'er the pool;
The playful children, just let loose from school;
The watch-dog's voice, that bayed the whispering

Responsive, an


Sober, solemn looking, grave,

Vacant, empty, silly, ignorant. It may also mean

here that the mind was free

from care, and

consequently was light and gay.

Copse, a wood of



And the loud laugh, that spoke the vacant*




These all, in sweet confusion, sought the shade, And filled each pause the nightingale had made. Near yonder copse,* where once the garden smiled, 45 And still where many a garden flower grows wild, There, where a few torn shrubs the place disclose,* Mansion, house. The village preacher's modest mansion * rose.

small trees. Disclose, show, point out.

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