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English Poetry I: From Chaucer to Gray.
The Harvard Classics. 1909–14.

Thomas Gray

291. Ode on the Pleasure Arising from Vicissitude

NOW the golden Morn aloft

Waves her dew-bespangled wing,

With vermeil cheek and whisper soft

She woos the tardy Spring:

Till April starts, and calls around

The sleeping fragrance from the ground,

And lightly o’er the living scene

Scatters his freshest, tenderest green.

New-born flocks, in rustic dance,

Frisking ply their feeble feet;

Forgetful of their wintry trance

The birds his presence greet:

But chief, the sky-lark warbles high

His trembling thrilling ecstasy;

And lessening from the dazzled sight,

Melts into air and liquid light.

Yesterday the sullen year

Saw the snowy whirlwind fly;

Mute was the music of the air,

The herd stood drooping by;

Their raptures now that wildly flow

No yesterday nor morrow know;

’Tis Man alone that joy descries

With forward and reverted eyes.

Smiles on past Misfortune’s brow

Soft Reflection’s hand can trace,

And o’er the cheek of Sorrow throw

A melancholy grace;

While Hope prolongs our happier hour,

Or deepest shades, that dimly lour

And blacken round our weary way,

Gilds with a gleam of distant day.

Still, where rosy Pleasure leads,

See a kindred Grief pursue;

Behind the steps that Misery treads

Approaching Comfort view:

The hues of bliss more brightly glow

Chastised by sabler tints of woe,

And blended form, with artful strife,

The strength and harmony of life.

See the wretch that long has tost

On the thorny bed of pain,

At length repair his vigour lost

And breathe and walk again:

The meanest floweret of the vale,

The simplest note that swells the gale,

The common sun, the air, the skies,

To him are opening Paradise.