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TO THE MEMORY OF MR. GRA Y.
Extracted from the third book of
Closed is that curious ear by death's cold hand,
That mark'd each error of my careless strain
With kind severity ; to whom my muse
Still loved to whisper, what she meant to sing
In louder accent; to whose taste supreme
She first and last appeal'd, nor wish'd for praise,
Save when his smile was herald to her fame.
Yes, thou art gone; yet friendship’s falt'ring tongue
Invokes thee still; and still, by fancy soothed,
Fain would she hope her Gray attends the call.
Why then, alas ! in this my fav'rite haunt,
Place I the urn, the bust, the sculptured lyre,
Or fix this votive tablet, fair inscribed
With numbers worthy thee, for they are thine ?
Why, if thou hear'st me still, these symbols sad
Of fond memorial ? Ah ! my pensive soul!
He hears me not, nor ever more shall hear
The theme his candour, not his taste, approved.
Oft,' smiling as in scorn,' oft would he cry,
Why waste thy numbers on a trivial art,
That ill can mimic ev'n the humblest charms
Of all-majestic Nature ?' at the word
His eye would glisten, and his accents glow
With all the Poet's frenzy, ' Sov'reign queen!
Behold, and tremble, while thou viewost her state
Throned on the heights of Skiddaw: call thy art
To build her such a throne; that art will feel
How vain her best pretensions. Trace her march
Amid the purple crags of Borrowdale ;
And try like those to pile thy range of rock
In rude tumultuous chaos. See ! she mounts
Her Naiad car, and, down Lodore's dread cliff
Falls many a fathom, like the headlong bard
My fabling fancy plunged in Conway's flood;
Yet not like him to sink in endless night:
For, on its boiling bosom, still she guides
Her buoyant shell, and leads the wave along ;
Or spreads it broad, a river, or a lake,
As suits her pleasure ; will thy boldest song
E'er brace the sinews of enervate art
To such dread daring? will it ev'n direct
Her hand to emulate those softer charms
That deck the banks of Dove, or call to birth
The bare romantic crags, and copses green,
That sidelong grace her circuit, whence the rills,
Bright in their crystal purity, descend
To meet their sparkling queen ? around each fount
The hawthorns crowd, and knit their blossom'd sprays
To keep their sources sacred. Here, even here,
Thy art, each active sinew stretch'd in vain,
Would perish in its pride. Far rather thou
Confess her scanty power, correct, control,
Tell her how far, nor farther, she may go;
And rein with reason's curb fantastic taste.'
Yes, I will hear thee, dear lamented shade,
And hold each dictate sacred. What remains
Unsung shall so each leading rule select
As if still guided by thy judgment sage ;
While, as still modell’d to thy curious ear,
Flow my melodious numbers; so shall praise,
If aught of praise the verse I weave may claim,
From just posterity reward my song.
ON THE DEATH OF MR. GRAY.
Fair are the gardens of the Aonian mount,
And sweet those blooming flow'rs
Which paint the Maiden's bow'rs;
And clear the waters of the gurgling fount !
Swift they wind through chequer'd allies ;
Huddling down to th' open valleys ;
Where the quick ripple in the sunbeams plays,
Turning to endless forms each glance of twinkling
O’er the gay scene th' enamour'd inmates roam :
And gather fresh ideas as they rise
From Nature's manifold supplies.
Alas! for whom !
Many a gleam of sprightly thought,
Many a sad and sable mood,
Whether from dazzling lustre brought,
Or nursed by shades of darksome wood,
Keep death-like silence on their native shore.
Since he, that gave them speech, is heard no more.
Flown is the spirit of Gray,
Like common breath to mingle with the air:
Yet still those Goddesses' peculiar care,
That breathe harmonious lay.
Retired to yonder grassy mound
In leaves of dusky hue encompass'd round,
They bid their plaintive accents fill
The covert hollows of the bosom'd hill:
With liquid voice and magic hand
Calliope informs the band :
Hush'd are the warblers of the grove, attentive to the
• Soft and slow
Let the melting measures flow,
Nor lighter air disturb majestic woe.
And thou, sage Priestess of our holy fire,
Who saw'st the Poet's flame expire,
Thy precious drops profusely shed
O'er his well-deserving head.
Thou nurtur'dst once a grateful throng,
When Milton pour'd the sweets of song
On Lycidas sunk low.
Now wake the faithfullyre- -mute Dulness reigns :
Your echoes waft no more the friendly theme: Clogg'd with thick vapours from the neighb'ring plains, Where old Cam hardly moves his sluggard stream.
But when some public cause
Claims festive song or more melodious tear,
Discordant murmurs grate mine ear.
Ne'er modell’d by Pierian laws,
Then idly glares full many a motley toy,
Anacreontic grief, and creeping strains of joy.
• Far other modes were thine,
Victim of hasty fate,
Whom nuw the powers of melody deplore ;
Whether in lofty statet
Thou bad'st thy train divine
Of raptures on Pindaric pinions soar:
Or hoping from thyself to fly
To childhood's careless scenes,
Thou sent'st a warm refreshing eye
On Nature's faded greens :
Or when thy calm and steadfast mind
With philosophic reach profound Self-pleasing vanities resign'd,
Fond of the look, that loves the ground,
Discern'd by Reason's equal light,
How gaudy Fortune cheats the sight;
While the coarse maid, inured to pain,
Supports the lab’ring heart, and Virtue's happiest
* Cambridge University, where Gray died.
+ See Grav's Panziario Odes.
1 Ode on a distant Prospect of Eton College.
Hymn to Adversity.
• But most the music of thy plaintive moan*
With lengthen'd note detains the list’ning ear, As lost in thought thou wander'st all alone
Where spirits hover round their mansions drear. By Contemplation's eye serenely view'd,
Each lowly object wears an awful mien : 'Tis our own blindness veils the latent good :
The works of Nature need but to be seen. • Thou saw'st her beaming from the hamlet-sires Beneath those rugged elms, that yew-tree's shade ;
still faithful to their wonted fires,t Thy own dear ashes are for ever laid.'
ON THE DEATH OF MR. GRAY.
WHERE sleeps the Bard who graced Museus' hearse
With fragrant trophies by the Muses wove! Shall Gray's cold urn in vain demand the verse,
Oh! can his Mason fail in plaintive love? No; with the Nine inwrapp'd in social woe,
His lyre unstrung, sad vigil he must keep; With them he mourns, with them his eyes o'erflow,
For such a Bard immortal Maids can weep.
Their early pupil in the heavn'ly lore
Of sacred poesy and moral song,
They taught the youth on eagle wing to soar,
And bore him through aërial heights along.
Fancy, obedient to the dread command,
With brilliant Genius, marshall'd forth his way: They lured his steps to Cambria’s once-famed land, And sleeping Druids felt his magic lay.
# Church-yard Elegy.
+ Gray was buried at Stoke, the scene of the Elegy.