1807 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Henry Kirke White

Samuel Egerton Brydges, "Original Poems by the late Henry Kirke White" Censura Literaria 5 (1807) 84-86.



Mr. Southey's intention to publish the Life and Poetical Remains of the late Mr. Henry Kirke White, has already been announced. I am not a little proud to record my gratitude to that great poet for the communication of the following most exquisite specimens, which I am sure every reader of sensibility or fancy will read with as much delight as I have done. They have never before been printed, and are a treasure, which, while they adorn my pages, will necessarily raise the expectations of the public very high for the appearance of the work, in which Mr. Southey has so amiably engaged. What must be the charm of a life of such a writer written by another of such endowments s Mr. Southey? But I will not by my pen detain the reader any longer from these most beautiful relics.

Penton, May 24, 1807.

Poetical Relics of Henry Kirke White.
SONNET.
Yes, 'twill be over soon. This sickly dream
Of life will vanish from my feverish brain,
And death my wearied spirit will redeem
From this wild region of continual pain.
You brook will glide as softly as before,
Yon landscape smile, yon golden harvest grow,
Yon sprightly lark on mounting wing will soar
When Henry's name is heard no more below.
I sigh when all my youthful friends caress,
They laugh in health and future evils brave;
Them shall a wife and smiling children bless
While I am mouldering in my silent grave.
God of the just I thou gav'st the bitter cup,
I bow to thy behest and drink it up.

SONNET.
Gently, most gently, on thy victim's head,
Consumption, lay thine hand! Let me decay
Like the expiring lamp, unseen, away,
And softly go to slumber with the dead.
And if 'tis true what holy men have said,
That strains angelic oft foretel the day
Of death, to those good men who fall thy prey,
O let the aerial music, round my bed,
Dissolving slow in dying symphony,
Whisper the solemn warning to mine ear;
That I may bid my weeping friends good-bye,
Ere I depart upon my journey drear;
And, smiling faintly on the painful past,
Compose my decent head, and breathe my last.

SOLITUDE.
It is not that my lot is low
That bids this silent tear to flow:
It is not grief that bids me moan,
It is that I am all alone.

In woods and glens I love to roam,
When the tired hedger hies him home;
Or by the woodland pool to rest,
When pale the star looks in its breast.

Yet when the silent evening sighs
With hallowed airs and symphonies,
My spirit takes another tone
And sighs that it is all alone.

The autumn leaf is sear and dead,
It floats upon the water's bed;
I would not be a leaf to die
Without recording sorrow's sigh!

The woods and winds with sullen wail
Tell all the same unvaried tale:
I've none to smile when I am free,
And when I sigh to sigh with me.

Yet in my dreams a form I view
That thinks of me and loves me too,—
I start, — and when the vision's flown,
I weep that I am all alone.