1803 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Dr. Erasmus Darwin

Anonymous, "Elegy on the Death of Dr. Darwin" City Gazette and Daily Advertiser [Charleston] (8 October 1803).



Heard you that knell, which, tremulously slow,
Bespoke the parting of a fated shade?
Know you for whom this messenger of woe
Sent its deep notes throughout the darkened glade?

Not one, whose life insipidly became
Of ease and idleness the torpid prey;
Who smil'd at glory and immortal fame,
And vegetating pass'd the listless day.

DARWIN'S no more! the tributary due
To death once paid, his soul has sped the flight;
Spurn'd the dense ether, realized the view
Of heavenly regions and eternal light.

Gladly his dawning genius science hail'd,
And bade philosophy his mind engage;
Reluctant nature saw her shrine unveil'd,
And fear'd his knowledge, tho' she lov'd the sage.

To turn the pail tyrant's fatal dart,
To soothe the pang of agonizing pain,
To heal the sorrows of a bleeding heart,
And lead Hygeia to her seat again—

Such was his task; insidious to wound,
His shafts in vain the grisly monarch aim'd,
'Till one sad melancholy moment found,
His rival long, but now his victim claim'd.

To melt the list'nig soul to him 'twas given,
The muses favorite, the friend of man;
Eager he grasp'd the partial boon of heaven,
And wak'd to melody his course began.

The gnomes and sylphs, who, with a poet's fire,
He chose the theme of his mellifluous lays,
When with a master's hand he swept the lyre,
And gain'd Britannia's everlasting praise—

On airy pinions soon shall hasten here,
His lov'd remains from injury to save,
To kind remembrance drop a pitying tear,
And deck with flowery wreaths their poet's grave.