1773 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John Hawkesworth

Elferina, "Verses occasioned by the Death of Dr. Hawkesworth" Edinburgh Magazine and Review 1 (April 1774) 308.



Pilgrim! to this solemn scene
Whom chance or choice hath brought;
With pensive eye the ravage view,
Destructive time hath wrought.

From truth that here resistless speaks,
Oh! turn thee not away;
Nor be a niggard of the tear
Which pity bids thee pay.

Bethink thee of the awful hour
Of retribution near;
For soon, full soon, alike forgot,
Thou too shalt slumber here.

Misfortune's children aid, for thou
Perhaps that path shall tread;
Nor to the clamant wretch deny
That morsel thou may'st need.

Reach forth Compassion's hand, to guide
Those that from virtue stray;
For thro' the same perplexed world
Lies thy uncertain way.

Youth's monitor and frailty's friend,
Doth here in silence rest;
And every vain and earthly care
Is banish'd from his breast.

Nor this alone — Cold is that heart,
Where heaven's own image glow'd;
And silent is that tongue from which
Celestial wisdom flow'd.

Dim is that eye, which wond'rous depths
Of Nature could explore;
And his pure energy of thought
Shall light the world no more.

Thro' mazy tales of soft distress
He led unthinking youth;
And flash'd on infidelity
The brightest beam of truth.

To point the shafts of ridicule,
He knew the happiest art;
And in religion's dearest cause
To wake the human heart.

He bade distress abandon fear;
And sense for faith forego;
And chearing hope support the while,
The weight of ev'ry woe.

From long oblivion and neglect
He call'd our harmless race,
And bade them occupy again
Their visionary space.

Invested with our antient rights,
Our spells and magic wand,
He taught our sprightly train to move
At Virtue's kind command.

Lo! to the humblest of our tribe
What high behests are given;
To counteract all ill, and work
The purposes of heaven.

And ah! will mortals of his worth
No frail memorial raise;
Nor send his fame to other lands,
In strains of honest praise?

To the remotest verge of heaven
Could my weak voice extend,
In more than mortal strains, his praise
To other lands I'd send;

But ah! 'tis softer than the brook
That murm'ring steals along;
And fainter than at distance heard,
The beetle's nightly song.

My sweetest notes, tho' taught to flow
Still sweeter by my theme,
Could only soothe some love-lorn maid,
Or prompt some shepherd's dream.

Yet better shall thy matchless lore
Thy memory enshrine,
The love that glow'd in ev'ry page,
The truth in ev'ry line.

And tho' no requiems to thy shade
Can Elferina sing,
To deck thy bier, I'll rosemary
And od'rous myrtle bring.

With sorrow, such as fairies feel,
Thy ashes I'll bedew;
And oft as Cynthia fills her horn,
These obsequies renew.

The weeping willow, o'er thy tomb
Its bended head shall wave;
And cowslip cups of freshest dew,
I'll sprinkle on thy grave.

The glow-worm beaming thro' the wood,
Shall lend her silver light;
And from thy solitary bed,
The savage race affright.

With thistles and with pointed thorn
I'll fence it all around;
And ev'ry rash unhallow'd foot
With lurking brambles wound.

Of snow-drop there, and primrose pale,
The spotless leaves I'll strow;
For this, to save thy fame, is all
That Elferine can do.