1823 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. John Langhorne

Anonymous, "Langhorne's Poems" The Star (20 August 1823).



The Poems of Langhorne are very little read and never quoted at the present time. They have been long since consigned to that sepulchre of genius the "Complete Works of British Poets," in whose "ponderous and marble jaws" they repose, "peaceably and quietly inhumed." Yet did the Muse of Langhorne, in her happier moments, paint with an exquisite pencil, and with "colours dipped in HEAVEN that never die." His characteristics, at such intervals, are delicious sweetness, an harmonious flow of diction, tender and lovely sentiment, and a pathos, mild, delicate, and, if we may be allowed this expression, graceful and elegant. Witness the opening stanzas of "Owen of Carron," one of the most original Poems in our language, full of beauties and defects.

On Carron's side the primrose pale,
Why does it wear a purple hue?
Ye maidens fair of Marlivale,
Why stream your eyes with Pity's dew?

'Tis all with gentle OWEN'S blood
That purple grows the primrose pale;
That Pity pours the tender flood
From each fair eye in Marlivale!

The evening star sate in his eye,
The sun his golden tresses gave;
The North's pure morn her orient dye,
To him who rests in yonder grave!

Beneath no high historic stone,
Though nobly born, is OWEN laid,
Stretch'd on the green-wood's lap alone,
He sleeps before the waving shade!

There many a flow'ry race hath sprung,
And fled before the mountain gale,
Since first his simple dirge ye sung—
Ye maidens fair of Marlivale!

Yet still, when May, with fragrant feet,
Hath wander'd o'er your meads of gold,
That dirge I hear, so simply sweet,
Far echo'd from each evening fold!