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 glimm’ring 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;
Full many a gem of purest ray serene,
         The dark unfathom’d caves of ocean bear:
Full many a flow’r is born to blush unseen,
         And waste its sweetness on the desert air.
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.
Apparently this is the first time the word twitt’ring was ever used in a poem.  Does this surprise you?
The Cock’s shrill clarion, or echoing horn is the most beautiful line in English poetry.
Do you agree?
I certainly do not.  The first two versus are much greater favourites of mine.
Catharine McKenty

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