1810 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Collins

Elijah Waring, "Lines, composed on paying a visit to the tomb of Collins, in Chichester Cathedral" Poetical Magazine 3 (1810) 252-54.



Lone Genius, that from winding Arun's side
Fancy thro' wildest scenes was fond to guide,
What time Enchantment's vision-working pow'rs
Amus'd and sooth'd to rest thy listless hours,
With groves and palaces of airy form,
And guardian Genii, wrestling with the storm:
Or, cull'd in Persia's warmly fertile clime,
Bade Eastern morals bloom in British rhyme:
Or taught the Passions moody strains to swell,
In vary'd guise, round Music's "magic cell:"
Ah! didst thou vainly all that fire possess?
Would Heav'n had spar'd thee more, or granted less!
Pour'd on thy birth less intellectual light,
Or spar'd thee more from Melancholy's night!
Yet cheerless, 'mid the gloom of sadd'ning years,
Thou didst not wander thro' a vale of tears;—
Religion's day-star beaming on the way,
The saint's firm footsteps bade her lamp display;
Full on the page of holy record shone,
And prov'd each word of promise there thine own!
Believing still, tho' dim thy mental view,
The promise faithful, and the record true.
Nor didst thou pine, to sullen Thought resign'd,
Unsought, unfelt for, by the tuneful kind.
No! where pale Death hung ghastly o'er thy bed,
There pitying Science bow'd her laurel'd head:
When thither from the crush of Learning came
Th' illustrious brethren of no vulgar name.
This Winton's venerable halls rever'd,
Where Merit lov'd him much, as Dulness fear'd:
In him (to find the parallel, how hard!)
Join'd the mild critic, and the nervous bard.
In friendship generous (this Collins prov'd),
In tenet liberal, in all belov'd.
Of that old Thames to confluent Isis told,
How pleas'd he saw the royal wreath enfold
Those brows, which long had worn the choicest bays
That Science on her banks was proud to raise.
This well on Fancy's classic plains had sung;
That deep in Melancholy's cave had strung
His ready lyre; and both together stray'd,
By Spenser's music lur'd, thro' many a fairy shade.
Such, Collins, were the two, whose kindred zeal
Strove thy soul-sick'ning malady to heal;
Cheer'd the dim ev'ning of thy earthly day,
And pray'd — "God speed thee" on thy heav'nward way.
O then, when Time, swift sailing for the land,
Had well nigh borne thee to th' eternal strand;
When Doubt, dark-brooding, hid the prospect there,
And Hope, half-fearful, trod she knew not where;
Didst thou not see "the star of Bethlehem" rise,
Kind beacon! bright in Faith's inviting skies?
Then did it not on that high pathway shine,
Which ransom'd Israel treads to life divine?
Did not its lustre gild thy dubious way,
And shine and brighten unto "perfect day?"
Yes! cries some seraph's peace-proclaiming voice,
Then learnt his soul, while trembling, to rejoice:
With secret aid o'erpass'd the gloomy wave,
Nor dropp'd th' unbending staff which Mercy gave,
Till, glad, ungirding at his journey's close,
He found salvation where its star arose.