1822 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Julius Mickle

Thomas Gillett, "Lines written on visiting the Grave of Mickle, in Forest-Hill Church-yard, near Oxford" The Star (5 July 1822).



'Tis good, at times, in solemn mood to stray
'Mid mansions where the silent dead decay;
Till thence, inspir'd, the soul begins to rise,
Spurn the low earth, and claim her kindred skies!
This lonely Church-yard, where the peasant race
From age to age have found a resting place,
Presents such varied objects to the sight
As strike the gazer with a sad delight!

Mere honour'd age, no more with pain oppress'd,
Lies, like the infant by his side, at rest.
There noblest worth, the virtuous, friendly, just,
With youth and beauty moulder into dust.
But lo! what heap 'mid yonder mounds appears
Crown'd with the dewy morning's frozen tears!
'Tis MICKLE'S Grave! — Let heaven-born Sympathy
Pause o'er the spot and heave a pensive sigh;
Let Pity weep, and let the Muse be near
To tune the sigh, and register the tear;
And let fond Genius suing once more the lyre
To sound his dirge, then bid its strains expire!

Oh, gentlest MICKLE! once 'twas thine to feel
In Virtue's cause the noblest, manliest zeal;
When subtle Sophistry, with fiend-like guile,
Essay'd to cloud fair Truth's unfading smile;
Thy daring genius check'd with bold attempt,
And on the base contemner brought contempt!

But when meek Pollio, bright in youth's fair morn,
From country, friend, and life itself was torn,
'Twas thine to weave his worth in wreaths sublime,
That bloom o'er Death, and mock the rage of Time.
Pourtray'd by thee still lives the deathful scene
Where youthful Mary, Scotland's beauteous Queen,
Long doom'd to linger in the gloomy cell,
To jealous rage at last a victim fell.
We see the ball in dreary black array'd,
Where the fair sufferer rear'd her injur'd head;
View the huge block, and mark the keen axe glow,
Till sad descends the vengeful murd'rous blow!

With Ulla now we to the cavern hie,
To learn her absent lover's destiny;
Behold the hag her potent charms prepare,
The blue flame rise, the spectre glide through air:
Then hear thee "pour the strong poetic tide"
O'er Britain's shores in Lusitanian pride!"

Enchanting Poet! long thy nervous strains
Shall charm the scholar, and delight the swains;
But more thy virtues shall excite their praise,
For these alone were lovelier than thy lays.
What! though remov'd, then, far from vaults of State,
Thou rest not with the titled and the great;
Though no carv'd urn or spirit-breathing bust
Smile o'er the spot where steeps thy sacred dust;
Here Peace shall wave her guardian wing around,
And still thy grave with blooming sweets be crown'd:
Remembrance, sad, shall bid her pensive train
Long on the turf in museful mood remain;
While that sweet siren, ever-fair Renown,
Decks with thy laurels her resplendent crown!