Elegy Written In A Country Churchyard

Poem by Thomas Gray

The Curfew tolls the knell of parting day,
The lowing herd wind slowly o’er the lea,
The plowman homeward plods his weary way,
And leaves the world to darkness and to me.

Now fades the glimmering landscape on the sight,
And all the air a solemn stillness holds,
Save where the beetle wheels his droning flight,
And drowsy tinklings lull the distant folds;

Save that from yonder ivy-mantled tow’r
The moping owl does to the moon complain
Of such as, wand’ring near her secret bow’r,
Molest her ancient solitary reign.

Beneath those rugged elms, that yew-tree’s shade,
Where heaves the turf in many a mould’ring heap,
Each in his narrow cell for ever laid,
The rude Forefathers of the hamlet sleep.

The breezy call of incense-breathing Morn,
The swallow twitt’ring from the straw-built shed,
The cock’s shrill clarion, or the echoing horn,
No more shall rouse them from their lowly bed.

For them no more the blazing hearth shall burn,
Or busy housewife ply her evening care:
No children run to lisp their sire’s return,
Or climb his knees the envied kiss to share.

Oft did the harvest to their sickle yield,
Their furrow oft the stubborn glebe has broke:
How jocund did they drive their team afield!
How bow’d the woods beneath their sturdy stroke!

Let not Ambition mock their useful toil,
Their homely joys, and destiny obscure;
Nor Grandeur hear with a disdainful smile
The short and simple annals of the poor.

The boast of heraldry, the pomp of pow’r,
And all that beauty, all that wealth e’er gave,
Awaits alike th’ inevitable hour:
The paths of glory lead but to the grave.

Nor you, ye Proud, impute to These the fault,
If Memory o’er their Tomb no Trophies raise,
Where through the long-drawn aisle and fretted vault
The pealing anthem swells the note of praise.

Can storied urn or animated bust
Back to its mansion call the fleeting breath?
Can Honour’s voice provoke the silent dust,
Or Flatt’ry soothe the dull cold ear of death?

Perhaps in this neglected spot is laid
Some heart once pregnant with celestial fire;
Hands, that the rod of empire might have sway’d,
Or waked to ecstasy the living lyre.

But Knowledge to their eyes her ample page
Rich with the spoils of time did ne’er unroll;
Chill Penury repress’d their noble rage,
And froze the genial current of the soul.

Full many a gem of purest ray serene
The dark unfathom’d caves of ocean bear:
Full many a flower is born to blush unseen,
And waste its sweetness on the desert air.

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.

Th’ applause of list’ning senates to command,
The threats of pain and ruin to despise,
To scatter plenty o’er a smiling land,
And read their history in a nation’s eyes,

Their lot forbade: nor circumscribed alone
Their glowing virtues, but their crimes confined;
Forbade to wade through slaughter to a throne,
And shut the gates of mercy on mankind,

The struggling pangs of conscious truth to hide,
To quench the blushes of ingenuous shame,
Or heap the shrine of Luxury and Pride
With incense kindled at the Muse’s flame.

Far from the madding crowd’s ignoble strife,
Their sober wishes never learn’d to stray;
Along the cool sequester’d vale of life
They kept the noiseless tenor of their way.

Yet ev’n these bones from insult to protect
Some frail memorial still erected nigh,
With uncouth rhymes and shapeless sculpture deck’d,
Implores the passing tribute of a sigh.

Their name, their years, spelt by th’ unletter’d muse,
The place of fame and elegy supply:
And many a holy text around she strews,
That teach the rustic moralist to die.

For who, to dumb Forgetfulness a prey,
This pleasing anxious being e’er resign’d,
Left the warm precincts of the cheerful day,
Nor cast one longing ling’ring look behind?

On some fond breast the parting soul relies,
Some pious drops the closing eye requires;
Ev’n from the tomb the voice of Nature cries,
Ev’n in our Ashes live their wonted Fires.

For thee, who, mindful of th’ unhonour’d dead,
Dost in these lines their artless tale relate;
If chance, by lonely contemplation led,
Some kindred spirit shall inquire thy fate,

Haply some hoary-headed Swain may say,
‘Oft have we seen him at the peep of dawn
Brushing with hasty steps the dews away
To meet the sun upon the upland lawn.

‘There at the foot of yonder nodding beech
That wreathes its old fantastic roots so high,
His listless length at noontide would he stretch,
And pore upon the brook that babbles by.

‘Hard by yon wood, now smiling as in scorn,
Mutt’ring his wayward fancies he would rove,
Now drooping, woeful wan, like one forlorn,
Or crazed with care, or cross’d in hopeless love.

‘One morn I miss’d him on the custom’d hill,
Along the heath and near his fav’rite tree;
Another came; nor yet beside the rill,
Nor up the lawn, nor at the wood was he;

‘The next with dirges due in sad array
Slow through the church-way path we saw him borne.
Approach and read (for thou canst read) the lay
Graved on the stone beneath yon aged thorn:’

THE EPITAPH

Here rests his head upon the lap of Earth
A Youth to Fortune and to Fame unknown.
Fair Science frown’d not on his humble birth,
And Melancholy mark’d him for her own.

Large was his bounty, and his soul sincere,
Heav’n did a recompense as largely send:
He gave to Mis’ry all he had, a tear,
He gain’d from Heav’n (’twas all he wish’d) a friend.

No farther seek his merits to disclose,
Or draw his frailties from their dread abode,
(There they alike in trembling hope repose,)
The bosom of his Father and his God.

Thomas Gray

“The Surreal Adventures of Anthony Zen” by Cameron Straughan.

Today I am very pleased to introduce another guest post, this time by author Cameron Straughan. I will certainly be taking a look at his book myself.. Take it away Cameron…!

Hello! I am an autistic author. I use absurd, surreal humour to help me cope. I use it to communicate how I feel, how I view the world around me and to reach out with the hopes of finding some common ground – shared experiences. After all, that’s the basis of laughter – recognition of shared experiences. I prefer using this method to all the negativity I see swirling around in contemporary society. I’d rather not criticize; instead, I’d rather have some fun. Sound good? Then you might like this news!

On July 1, 2020, I will officially release my collection of 23 interconnected, humorous short stories entitled “The Surreal Adventures of Anthony Zen” (paperback). It is currently available as an Amazon ebook.

My motivation for publishing this book is to help dispel the misconception that autistic people “have no sense of humour” and to suggest, in a fun way, how people can survive these chaotic times with their individuality in tact. Also, “horrifyingly absurd” millennial comedy seems ready for Anthony Zen; hit shows like BoJack Horseman and Rick and Morty suggest widespread acceptance of my particular brand of wild humour.

My writing style doesn’t preach – I facilitate; this is writing you can interpret. The reader can dig deeper (e.g. satirical elements, Buddhist teachings, absurdism, autistic features) or simply enjoy it as a fun, humorous read; I’m OK with either response. Anyway, the book certainly lives up to its name! If this sounds good to you, then please check it out!

https://cameronstraughan.com/

Cartagena port oasis.

Cartagena port oasis, the sustainable zoo, is located on the Cartagena cruise port grounds. It is a government initiative showcasing a variety of the country’s natural resources and Colombia’s desire for a sustainable environment. The animals are not ‘wild’ as such, but many- the monkeys and parrots- appear to be free to come and go. Entry is free- you just walk through the zoo out of the port. The Cartagena port oasis initiative won the Organisation of American States’ First America’s Maritime Award in the category of Sustainable Tourist Destination Port.

The port is fun and informative and a fabulous surprise.

Bell Hammers:The True Folk Tale of Little Egypt, Illinois by Lancelot Shaubert.

So today I have a Guest Post from NYC author & producer Lancelot Schaubert, talking about his debut novel, Bell Hammers.

“The novels that stick with me stick with me because of beautiful moments, good characters, true themes, and the hilarious reality of life. And because I felt that way about the novels that stick with me, I wanted to write a novel that did those four things. I think you’ll find BELL HAMMERS does all four.”

1. Beautiful Moments. I tried my best to create moments in this novel you will encounter nowhere else. Nowhere else will you encounter the world’s largest hippo crapping all over a church lady dressed in bleach white Sunday clothes, only to get literally hosed off by her country club drunk husband. Nowhere else will you encounter small children trying to bring a small town online using barbed wire telephone lines. Nowhere else will you find six carpenters staging a sit-in because their forman won’t give them beer. There are some beautiful little trees and beautiful vistas involving meteor strikes and medieval sieges and castles in the small town of Bellhammer, Illinois.

2. Good Characters. Authors overthink characters too often. The thing that makes a good character good is, quite clearly, goodness. And I tried to highlight the goodness of my main character Remmy so that you fall in love with him forever. He takes great care of his neighbors, he sticks up to bullies, he loves his wife in an arm wrastling sort of way. Even when he’s weak or mischievous, you’ll find him strong in goodness and therefore BELL HAMMERS will stick with you long after you put it down.

3. True Themes. The lost father. The utopia of friends. The harmless prank. The big bad wolf. All of these show up in the story and create a third rail that gives deep and true meaning to the events of the plot of BELL HAMMERS. 

4. Hilarious Reality. The sheer unfathomable givenness of things like hammers, cigarettes, poop, and music covers the pages of this novel. You’ll find yourself, when you’re done, wondering about the really real.

It’s a book about four generations of carpenters staging a siege of practical jokes upon a major oil company. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll be looking for volume two, guaranteed. 

___

Two excerpts of Lancelot Schaubert’s debut novel BELL HAMMERS sold to The New Haven Review (Yale’s Institute Library) and The Misty Review, while a third excerpt was selected as a finalist for the last Glimmer Train Fiction Open in history. He has also sold poetry, fiction, and nonfiction to TOR (MacMillan), The Anglican Theological Review, McSweeney’s, Poker Pro’s World Series Edition, The Poet’s Market, Writer’s Digest, and many similar markets.

Spark + Echo chose him for their 2019 artist in residency, commissioning him to write four short stories on top of the seven others he sold them.

He has published work in anthologies like Author in Progress, Harry Potter for Nerds, and Of Gods and Globes — the last of which he edited and featured stories by Juliet Marillier (whose story was nominated for an Aurealis award), Anne Greenwood BrownDr. Anthony CirillaLJ CohenFC Shultz, and Emily Munro. His work Cold Brewed reinvented the photonovel for the digital age and caught the attention of the Missouri Tourism Board who commissioned him to write and direct a second photonovel, The Joplin Undercurrent, in partnership with award-winning photographer, Mark Neuenschwander. He edits The Showbear Family Circus, which has some resources for writers over at http://lanceschaubert.org/resources/ and you can find him on Goodreads as well.

To preorder you can go to: