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Are but the solemn decorations all
Of the great tomb of man. The golden sun,
The planets, all the infinite host of heaven,
Are shining on the sad abodes of death,
Through the still lapse of ages. All that tread
The globe are but a handful to the tribes
That slumber in its bosom. Take the wings
Of morning, and the Barcan desert pierce,
Or lose thyself in the continuous woods
Where rolls the Oregon, and hears no sound
Save his own dashings — yet the dead are there!
And millions in those solitudes, since first
The flight of years began, have laid them down
In their last sleep — the dead reign there alone.

So shalt thou rest; and what if thou withdraw
In silence from the living, and no friend
Take note of thy departure? All that breathe
Will share thy destiny. The gay will laugh
When thou art gone, the solemn brood of care
Plod on, and each one, as before, will chase
His favorite phantom; yet all these shall leave
Their mirth and their employments, and shall come
And make their bed with thee. As the long train
Of ages glide away, the sons of men
The youth in life's green spring, and he who goes
In the full strength of years, matron, and maid,
The speechless babe, and the gray-headed man
Shall one by one be gathered to thy side
By those who in their turn shall follow them.

So live, that when thy summons comes to join
The innumerable caravan that moves

To that mysterious realm where each shall take
His chamber in the silent halls of death,
Thou go not like the quarry-slave at night,
Scourged to his dungeon; but, sustained and soothed
By an unfaltering trust, approach thy grave
Like one who wraps the drapery of his couch
About him, and lies down to pleasant dreams.

William CULLEN BRYANT (1794–1878).



THEY are all gone into the world of light!

And I alone sit ling'ring here! Their very memory is fair and bright,

And my sad thoughts doth clear.

It glows and glitters in my cloudy breast

Like stars upon some gloomy grove,
Or those faint beams in which this hill is drest

After the Sun's remove.

I see them walking in an air of glory,

Whose light doth trample on my days;
My days, which are at best but dull and hoary,

Mere glimmering and decays.

O holy Hope! and high Humility!

High as the Heavens above! These are your walks, and you have shew'd them me

To kindle my cold love.

Dear, beauteous death; the Jewel of the Just!

Shining no where but in the dark ; What mysteries do lie beyond thy dust,

Could man outlook that mark !

He that hath found some fledg'd bird's nest may know

At first sight if the bird be flown;
But what fair dell or grove he sings in now,

That is to him unknown.

And yet, as Angels in some brighter dreams

Call to the soul when man doth sleep, So some strange thoughts transcend our wonted themes,

And into glory peep.

If a star were confin'd into a tomb,

Her captive flames must needs burn there;
But when the hand that lock'd her up gives room,

She'll shine through all the sphere.

O Father of eternal life, and all

Created glories under thee!
Resume thy spirit from this world of thrall

Into true liberty!

Either disperse these mists which blot and fill

My perspective still as they pass;
Or else remove me hence unto that hill
Where I shall need no glass.

HENRY VAUGHAN (1621–1695).



The Countess of Pembroke, commemorated in these famous lines, was Mary Herbert, the sister of Sir Philip Sidney. It was she who wrote The Dolefull Lay of Clorinda (see note, page 65), and it was for her that Sidney composed the pastoral romance Arcadia.

sable hearse. Compare with “sable shroud," Lycidas, 22.


This is a song of Ariel, from Shakespeare's The Tempest, i. 2.


Charles Lamb says of this little lyric that it possessed for him a charm which he could in no manner explain. “I lived on it for weeks.”


gilds cowslips with her hair. Compare this conception of Aurora's hair with Shelley's reference to the hair of Morning, Adonais, xiv. 3-5. See also note on the same.


This exquisite little poem was written in Germany in 1799.

Dove. A stream which rises near Buxton in Derbyshire and finally flows into the Trent. It is often referred to by Walton in his Complete Angler, and by Charles Cotton who says:

“O my beloved nymph, fair Dove,

Princess of rivers, how I love
Upon thy flowery banks to lie."


These lines are to the memory of Elizabeth, wife of Henry Hastings, fifth earl of Huntingdon. Mindful of the untruthfulness of too many epitaphs, Lord Falkland signed the original copy of these “ by him who says what he saw,". thus asserting that his praise of the Countess was not out of proportion to her deserts.

XIII. Concerning Mrs. Catherine Thomson, we have no information, save that she was a friend of Milton's and died Dec. 16, 1646.

this earthly load of death called life. Compare with Adonais,

xxxix. 2,


These lines were written in memory of Hester Savory, “a young Quaker you may have heard me speak of as being in love with for some years while I lived at Pentonville," says Lamb, “ " though I had never spoken to her in my life.”

XVI. This poem is selected from Britannia's Pastorals, 1616. Notice the resemblance in thought between several of these lines and similar expressions in the elegies by Bion and Moschus.

dolphins. See note 14, page 46.



Burns, in the original title to this poen, characterizes Captain Henderson as “a gentleman who held the patent for his honours immediately from Almighty God.”

Compare the greater part of this elegy with the first five stanzas of the Lament for Bion. bairns — children.

must. burnies – brooks.

meikle — much. cairns — heaps of stones.

paitrick -- partridge. canty — merry.

rair cushat-wood-pigeon.

shaws — woods. e'en -eyes.

smiddie — smithy. eldritch - elfish.

starns — stars. houlets — owls.

studdie - anvil. hurcheon - hedgehog.

waukrife — sleepless. ilk, ilka — each, every.

whiddin' — skipping. lin — waterfall.

wimplin' — winding. maukins — hares.

woodie - rope, halter.



This song occurs in Chatterton's Tragedy of Ælla (1769), and is probably oftener quoted than any other portion of that author's works.

gre — grow. reytes — water-flags. lethal — deadly, fatal. Compare the second stanza with Ilamlet, iv., V., 189-193.


Thanatopsis was first published in the North American Review in 1817, and was written by Bryant when in his eighteenth year. The word is from two Greek words, thanatos, death, and opsis, view.

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