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used as an epithet for an organ. A peal of thunder, to ring a peal of. bells, are common expressions. A peal, means properly a succession of loud sounds.
x1. " Can storied urn, or animated bust, Back to it's mansion call the feeting breath? . Can Honour's voice provoke the silent dust? : Or fattery sooth the dull, cold ear of Death ?,
Storied, -embossed with figures, representing some history of the deceased, as the Barberini vase is supposed to be. - See the Botanic Garden.
Animated bust. A bust so well carved as to appear animated or alive.
Provoke,in the fourth line, does not mean offend, enrage; but it means to call forth, to call hack again to life. :
The whole of the eleventh stanza, though , very beautiful in itself, interrupts the reasoning of the poem; for the following verses do not relate to it, but to the stanza preceding it. Had the place of the roth and 11th stanzas been changed, the sense would be clearer. Gray seems to affect obscurity in many of his poems. *xir. " Perhaps in this neglected spot is laid . Some heart onde pregnant with celestial fire; Hands, that the rod of empire might have sway'd, Or wak’d to ecstasy the living lyre.
The pride of greatness should not disdain the poor ; for it is probable that genius and vir-tue lie buried in obscurity, only for want of cultivation, or of an opportunity of exerting themselves.
Wak'd to. ecstasy the living iyre.-The lyre is used metaphorically for poetry : true poetry represents human passions and feelings as they exist in the living foul of man-In such poetry " they live, they breathe, they speak *," and excite every gradation of sentiment, from despair to ecstasy..
" But knowledge to their eyes her ample page, Rich with the spoils of time, did ne'er unrol; Chill penury repress’d their noble rage,
And froze the genial current of thek souls Rage, in the third line, iš used metaphori. cally, and means ardour, enthusiasm. We speak of raging pain, of a raging torrent ; indeed, in this last year of the century, even the fashion of a cap is the rage.
Genial -- means whatever is creative. We say, the geniał spring, the genial rays of the sun, genial warmth, &c.
Current of the soul- is also metaphorical ; and penury (poverty) is supposed to freeze or repress the energy of their minds, and prevent their talents and understandings from exerting themselves as they might have done in otlier circumstances.
And wąste it's sweetness on the desert air. Ray serene.Why serene? Uņdisturbed is one meaning of serene; clear, because undisturbed. -But perhaps this epithet was chosen rather for the convenience of it's rhyme than for it's peculiar propriety.
The beauty of the two last lines of this stanza has rendered them very popular. The meaning of the whole stanza is so very obvious, that I fear to offend my young readers by pointing it out., Genius and virtue sometimes lie buried and unseen, like gems or jewels in the ocean, or like flowers in a forest.
xv. “ Some village Hampden, that with dauntless breast, The little tyrant of his fields withstood ; . Some mute, inglorious Milton here may rest; Some Cromwell, guiltless of his country's blood.
The lives of Hampden, Milton, and Cromwell are to be met with in every history of England. In Butler's Arithmetic, p. 94, 2d edition, my young readers will find an account of a village Hampden, who, within these few years, withstood an act of public oppression, and had it rea dressed.
" Th’ applause of list’ning senates to cominand,
XVII. " Their lot forbade ; nor circumscrib'd alone Their growing virtues, but their crimes confin'd; Forbade to wade through slaughter to a throne, And shut the gates of mercy on mankind; And read their history in a nation's eyes. This line is very beautiful. A great inan, who has been useful to his country, reads the grateful sentiments of his countrymen in their pleased countenances. And that is also the meaning of « Smiling land.”-It is not the land which ap
pears cheerful, but the inhabitants, who have received plenty, and enjoyi prosperity... '
Their lot forbade. These three words complete the sense of the stanza which precedes them, and mean that the humble. lot of these villagers prevented them from shining in the senate, either by their 'oratory, wisdom, or virtue : and the sense of the remaining part of the stanza, that their obscurity not only circunscribed or confined the extent of their virtues, but also prevented their committing such great crimes as are the consequences of ambition. - Shut the gates of mercy on mankind. In the scriptures, opening and shutting the gates of Heaven, is an expression used to denote the admission or rejection of the claims of mankind to the favour of the Divinity: Shutting the gates of mercy, is not a classical allusion ;, that is to say, it is not an allusion taken from those Greek or Latin authors that are called classical.
To shut the gates' of the temple of Janus, among the Romans, was an emblem of universal peace ; and an allusion to this would be called classical.' Allusions, however, to the sacred writings are often highly beautiful and impressive. The sublimity of Isaiah, Ezekiel,