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Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard 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; 


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 Mem'ry o'er their tomb no trophies raise, 

Where thro' 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 wak'd 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 flow'r 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 hist'ry in a nation's eyes, 


Their lot forbade: nor circumscrib'd alone 

         Their growing virtues, but their crimes confin'd; 

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 craz'd 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 thro' the church-way path we saw him borne. 

Approach and read (for thou canst read) the lay, 

         Grav'd on the stone beneath yon aged thorn." 


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Passing Dynamic Arguments to Bash Scripts

It is possible to pass arguments to a bash script when it is called from the command line. This is the technique to use when you need to have your script carry out different actions each time it runs dependent on the input and the context. This is done by passing selected parameters to the file on the command line and these parameters are called arguments.

Lets look at an example, you may have a script called "" that performs a particular operation on an RRD file, such as extracting the data. If you want to be able to use that script on many RRD files in many different user directories, it is best to pass the file path as an argument, so that you can use the same script for all the files to be processed.

For instance, if the username to be graphed is "ASmith", you would enter the following command line:

sh ASmith

Any arguments passed to the file are accessed internally within the script by using variables $1, $2, etc. This denotes that $1 references the first argument, $2 the second, and so on. Lets illustrate this in an example:


rrdgraph $ASmith

in order to ensure readability, assign your variables with descriptive names and then call the graphing utility (rrdgraph) on this variable ($ASmith).

If the number of arguments is likely to change then you can use the "$@" variable, which creates an array of all the input parameters. This technique enables the use of a for-loop to iteratively process each one, as illustrated in the following example:

for $user in "$@"


 rrdgraph $user


Here is an example of how to call this script with arguments from the command line:

sh user1 user2 user3


What if your arguments have spaces?

If any of your arguments have spaces, you need to enclose the full argument in single quotes.

For example:

Let say you have a script that pulls information from your database using specific parameters, such as "uname", "todays date", and "description", and then produces a report in an "output format" of the users choice. Now you want to write your script so that you can pass in these parameters when the script is called. It might look like this: 

extractreport -u jsmith -d notebooks -td 10-20-2011 -of pdf

Bash enables this functionality with the "getopts" function. For the above example, you could use getopts as follows:

while getopts u:d:td:of: option


 case "${option}"


 u) USER=${OPTARG};;

 d) DATE=${OPTARG};;





This is a while-loop that uses the "getopts" function and a so-called "optstring", in this case "u:d:p:f:", to iterate through the arguments. The while-loop walks through the optstring, which contains the flags that can be used to pass arguments, and assigns the argument value provided for that flag to the variable "option". The case-statement then assigns the value of the variable "option" to a global variable that can used after all the arguments have been read.

The colons in the optstring mean that values are required for the corresponding flags. In the above example all flags are followed by a colon: "u:d:p:f:".

sh 'songlist 1' 'songlist 2' 'songlist 3'

Frequently a script is written such that the user can pass in arguments in any order using flags. With the flags method, you can also make some of the arguments optional.

This means, all flags need a value. If, for example, the "d" and "f" flags were not expected to have a value, the optstring would be "u:dp:f".

A colon at the beginning of the optstring, for example ":u:d:p:f:", has a completely different meaning. It allows you to handle flags that are not represented in the optstring. In that case the value of the "option" variable is set to "?" and the value of "OPTARG" is set to the unexpected flag. The allows you to display a suitable error message informing the user of the mistake.

Arguments that are not preceded by a flag are ignored by getopts. If flags specified in the optstring are not provided when the script is called, nothing happens, unless you specially handle this case in your code.

Any arguments not handled by getops can still be captured with the regular $1, $2, etc. variables.

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