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"After this follows in Fraser MS.,
''The thoughtless World to Majesty may bow''And here,'' says Mason, ''the poem was originally intended to conclude, before the happy idea of 'the hoary-headed Swain &c.' suggested itself to him.''
Exalt the brave, and idolize Success
But more to Innocence their Safety owe
Than Power and Genius e'er conspired to bless
And thou, who mindful of the unhonour'd Dead
Dost in these Notes thy (their written above) artless Tale relate
By Night and lonely Contemplation led
To linger in the gloomy walks of Fate
Hark how the sacred Calm, that broods around
Bids ev'ry fierce tumultuous Passion cease
In still small Accents whisp'ring from the Ground
A grateful Earnest of eternal Peace [Footnote: ''see additional note, p. 292.'']
No more with Reason and thyself at Strife
Give anxious Cares and endless Wishes room
But thro the cool sequester'd Vale of Life
Pursue the silent Tenour of thy Doom''
Mason perhaps converted Walpole by a reference to the state of this MS., which no doubt establishes an interval between the first and second half of the poem. But he ante-dated, it maybe suspected, the composition of the first half.
The Fraser MS. (to judge from the facsimile) has a line drawn along the side of the last three, and possibly meant (as Sir W. Fraser's reprint interprets it) to include the first also of these four stanzas.
The stanzas which follow these four are: Far from the madding crowd's &c. as in the received text (with minor variations to be noted), down to 'fires,' .
All the MS. to the end of the four rejected Stanzas is in a much more faded character; and Mason must be at least so far right that the Poem from 'Far from the madding %c.' was resumed after a considerable interval.
But we have only Mason's authority for the statement that the Elegy was ever meant to end with these four stanzas, and it is very questionable. We may be biased by the completeness of the poem in its published form, - but surely without this contrast to assist our judgment it would have seemed to us to finish badly and abruptly with ''Pursue the silent Tenour of thy Doom.''
And if this ending would not satisfy us it could not have satisfied Gray. Again, it is probable from the MS. that down to 'Doom' the Elegy was all written much about the same time, or as the Germans say, in einem Guss. Suppose then it had reached that point in 1742, and this is probably what Mason means when he suggests that it may have been concluded then; is it conceivable that Gray, who had communicated to Walpole other completed poems of that date, and even the fragmentary , would have kept back the Elegy, which ex hypothesi he must have regarded as finished? Yet Walpole, as we have seen, is certain that Gray sent him only the first three stanzas, two or three years after the year 1742. Surely either these twelve lines were all that Gray had then written, or they were a specimen only of the unfinished poem."
Narrative Poems - Black Cat Poems
"Mason states that Gray originally gave the poem only ''the simple title of 'Stanzas written in a Country Church-yard.' I persuaded him first to call it an Elegy, because the subject authorized him so to do; and the alternate measure, in which it was written, seemed peculiarly fit for that species of composition. I imagined too that so capital a Poem, written in this measure, would as it were appropriate it in future to writings of this sort; and the number of imitations which have since been made of it (even to satiety) seem to prove that my notion was well founded.''
Mason delighted to pose as Gray's literary confrere and adviser; and when we remember that he was capable of inserting in his version of Gray's letters compliments to himself which never came from Gray, we must accept such statements of his, particularly those which refer to this early stage of the friendship between the two men, with great caution.
Johnson was thinking of this sentence of Mason's when (in the Life of Hammond) he said, ''Why Hammond or other writers have thought the quatrain of ten syllables elegiac it is difficult to tell. The character of the Elegy is gentleness and tenuity; but this stanza has been pronounced by Dryden, whose knowledge of English verse was not inconsiderable, to be the most magnificent of all the measures which our language affords.'[']
Since the name was invented there have been elegies and elegies; but the residuum of truth in Johnson's remark is that this measure, because of its stateliness, at once betrays, by mere force of contrast, 'tenuity' of thought. Take one of the three stanzas of Hammond which Johnson derides:
''Panchaia's odours be their costly feast,Even the few weak places of Dryden's Annus Mirabilis become through this mould the more obvious. It cannot therefore be successfully employed on trivial themes. It was used inter alios by Davenant for his heroic poem of Gondibert; by Hobbes for his curious translation of Homer; by Dryden for his Annus Mirabilis. The suggestion that the posthumous publication of Hammond's Love Elegies in 1745 had anything to do with Gray's choice of this measure may be dismissed; it comes oddly from those who affirm that the Elegy was begun in 1742."
And all the pride of Asia's fragrant year,
Give them the treasures of the farthest East,
And what is still more precious, give thy tear.''
The lead casket will not be dumb, nor will Dickinson accept her appointed role as deathmother through silence or concealment. Dickinson's revisionist rejection evolves out ofthe imperative to speak against the silent Father and the Mother who restrains her fromfulfilling her desire. Thus, the "I" is doubly dependent. Yearning for theunattainable Father, she discovers him within her psyche; his strength turns against theself, making her victim of what she most desires. Thus, Dickinson must encounter andcontinually reenact the struggle with the exclusionary male who prefers to withhold ratherthan confer. Refused the assurance of becoming the Christa of American poetry or the newChrist as Whitman might triumphantly proclaim himself, Dickinson does not inheritEmerson's powers unchallenged. She first must resolve through aggression her need forsupremacy in imaginatively murderous acts that recur because murder of the tradition is amost illusory triumph. Hers is a poetics as aggressive as any male oedipal struggle, yetcomplicated by an intensified vulnerability, a consciousness of perpetual exile, theawareness of the impossibility of winning adequate patriarchal recognition. With hercharacteristic astuteness, Dickinson once remarked, "When the subject is finished,words are handed away." But her words, though they may have slowed in her finalyears, were never discarded because her subject achieves no resolution. Conflict overdeath becomes, indeed, a form of poetic life. Unable to write without the"Father," yet forced to vanquish him in order to survive, Dickinson, withsubtlety, wit, and death-defying irony, practices her murderous poetics. Sharp assurgeon's steel, this very praxis redeems the dependence her poems counter andmagnificently, if sacrificially, destroy.