« PreviousContinue »
When the great Shepherd of the Mantuan plains*
His deep majestic melody 'gan roll:
Fain would I sing, what transport storm’d his soul,
How the red current throbb’d his viens along,
When, like Pelides, bold beyond control,
Gracefully terrible, sublimely strong,
Homer rais'd high to Heaven the loud, th' impetuous
And how his lyre, though rude her first essays,
Now skill'd to sooth, to triumph, to complain,
Warbling at will thro' each harmonious maze,
Was taught to modulate the artful strain,
I fain would sing :—but ah! I strive in vain.
Sighs from a breaking heart my voice confound.
With trembling step, to join yon weeping train
I haste, where gleams funereal glare around,
And, mix'd with shrieks of wo, the knells of death re-
Adieu, ye lays, that Fancy's flowers adorn,
The soft amusement of the vacant mind!
He sleeps in dust, and all the Muses mourn,
He, whom each Virtue fir'd, each Grace refind,
Friend, Teacher, pattern, darling of mankind !-*
He sleeps in dust.-Ah, how should I pursue
My theme !—To heart-consuming grief resign'd,
Here on his recent grave I fix my view,
And pour my bitter tears.—Ye flowery lays adieu!
t 'This excellent person died suddenly, on the 10th of February 1773. The conclusion of the poem was written a few days afte
Art thou, my G*******
**, for ever fled! And am I left to unavailing wo! When fortune's storms assail this weary head, Where cares long since have shed untimely snow, Ah! now for comfort whither shall I go? No more thy soothing voice my anguish cheers : Thy placid eyes with smiles no longer glow,
My hopes to and allay my fears. 'Tis meet that I should mourn: flow forth afresh my
The house appointed for all living. JOB.
WAILST some affect the sun, and some the shade,
Some flee the city, some the hermitage,
Their aims as various as the roads they take
In journeying through life; the task be mine
To paint the gloomy horrors of the tomb ;
The appointed place of rendezvous, where all
These travellers meet. Thy succours I implore,
Eternal King! whose potent arm sustains
The keys of hell and death.—The Grave, dread thing!
Men shiver when thou’rt nam'd: Nature appall’d
Shakes off her wonted firmness. Ah! how dark
Thy long-extended realms and rueful wastes;
Where nought but silence reigns, and night, dark night,
Dark as was Chaos ere the infant Sun
Was rolld together, or had tried its beams
Athwart the gloom profound! The sickly taper,
By glimmering thro’thy low-brow'd misty vaults,
Furred round with mouldy damps, and ropy slime,
Lets fall a supernumerary horror,
And only serves to make thy night more irksome.
Well do I know thee by thy trusty yew,
Cheerless, unsocial plant ! that loves to dwell
'Midst sculls and coffins, epitaphs, and worms;
Where light-heel'd ghosts, and visionary shades
Beneath the wan cold moon (as fame reports)
Embodied thick, perform their mystic rounds.
No other merriment, dull tree! is thine.
See yonder hallow'd fane! the pious work
Of names once fam’d, now dubious or forgot,
And buried ’midst the wreck of things which were :
There lie interr'd the more illustrious dead.
The wind is up: hark! how it howls! Methinks,
Till now, I never heard a sound so dreary ;
Doors creak, and windows clap, and night's foul bird
Rook'd in the spire screams loud; the gloomy ailes
Black plaster'd, and hung round with shreds of
scutcheons, And tatter'd coats of arms, send back the sound Laden with heavier airs, from the low vaults, The mansions of the dead. Rous'd from their slumbers, In grim array the grisly spectres rise, Grin horrible, and obstinately sullen Pass and repass, hush'd as the foot of night. Again! the screech owl shrieks: ungracious sound ! I'll hear no more ; it makes one's blood run chill.
Quite round the pile, a row of rev'rend elms, Coeval near with that, all ragged show, Long lash'd by the rude winds: some rift half down Their branchless trunks; others so thin a-top, That scarce two crows could lodge in the same tree. Strange things, the neighbours say, have happen'd here: While shrieks have issued from the hollow tombs, Dead men have come again, and walk'd about; And the great bell has tolld, unrung, untouch'da
Such tales their cheer, at wake or gossiping,
When it draws near to witching-time of night.
Oft in the lone church-yard at night I've seen,
By glimpse of moon-shine, cheq'ring thro' the trees,
The school-boy, with his satchel in his hand,
Whistling aloud to bear his courage up,
And lightly tripping o'er the long flat stones
(With nettles skirted, and with moss o'ergrown)
That tell in homely phrase who lie below;
Sudden he starts! and hears, or thinks he hears,
The sound of something purring at his heels:
Full fast he flies, and dares not look behind him,
Till out of breath he overtakes his fellows;
Who gather round, and wonder at the tale
Of horrid apparition, tall and ghastly,
That walks at dead of night, or takes his stand
O’er some-new open'd grave: and, strange to tell !
Evanishes at crowing of the cock.
The new-made widow too I've sometimes spied; Sad sight! slow-moving o'er the prostrate dead! Listless she crawls along in doleful black, While bursts of sorrow gush from either eye, Fast-falling down her now untasted cheek. Prone on the lonely grave of the dear man She drops : while busy meddling memory In barbarous succession, musters up The past endearments of their softer 'hours, Tenacious of its theme. Still, still she thinks. She sees him, and indulging the fond thought, Clings yet more closely to the senseless turf, Nor heeds the passenger who looks that way.