Stoke Poges Churchyard England about 1892

Stoke Poges Churchyard England about 1892

CHURCHYARD OF STOKE POGES ENGLAND — To this lovely churchyard the matchless “Elegy” by Gray has given an immortal charm. The place has altered little since the poet’s time, save that “yon ivy-mantled tower,” which he described, is now surmounted by a modern spire. It seems unsuited to the place, and the ivy, (while clinging lovingly to the old wall), avoids the spire as if it were a strange intruder. But this aside, the place is as it was when the Poet lingered here at sunset, as “The curfew tolled the knell of parting day!” Beneath its oriel window rich with ivy is the poet’s grave. What an ideal resting-place for one who has identified his name forever with its peaceful beauty ! Standing here what added significance and pathos are given to his lines, —

“Beneath those rugged elms, that yew-tree’s shade

Where heaves the turf in many a mouldering heap,

Each in his narrow cell forever laid,

The rude forefathers of the hamlet sleep.”

“Perhaps in this neglected spot is laid

Some heart once pregnant with celestial fire,

Hands that the rod of empire might have swayed,

Or waked to ecstasy the living lyre.”

“Full many a gem of purest ray serene,

The dark, unfathomed caves of ocean bear;

Full many a flower is born to blush unseen,

And waste its sweetness on the desert air.”

(from John L. Stoddard, Glimpses of the world; a portfolio of photographs of the marvelous works of God and man – 1892)

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