1816 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Collins

E. Walgrave, "The Tomb of Collins, in Chichester Cathedral" The Monthly Magazine 42 (December 1816) 429-30.



Here Collins sleeps, whose tender breast
With Pity's softest touch was bless'd;
Bless'd with those joys that only spring
When Pity stoops her balmy wing,
And from the skies, a welcome guest,
Thrills through the kindred mourner's breast.
Aye, Collins, such the joys you knew,
Whilst Pleasure's roses round thee blew;
But, ah! how dread thy latter doom,
That brought thee to this hallow'd tomb.
The laurel'd wreath, the myrtles gay,
Whose bloom had deck'd thy better day,
And e'en thy high-inspir'd mind:
Brush'd by the rude and ruffian sweep
Of black Misfortune's hand;
Gone is the myrtle's brilliant hue, the mind decays, the laurel'd band,
That erst so well thy temples bound,
Now twines thy broken lute around,
Whose notes, soft sighing to the breeze, lament thy lot unkind.
Gone is the bard whose mighty strains could give,
In wildest train,
The passions of the mind,
The fire that bade dun flickering visions live,
Ta'en.
In light Fancy's web, by eloquence refin'd,
Gone! gone! gone!
To that lone house confin'd,
The dread dark bourne of thee and all mankind.
And didst thou mourn thy hapless brother's fate,
Bid Pity weeping tell her votary's tale,
And shall no bard, in plaintive strains relate,
The sorrows of thy doom, and bid the wild harp wail?

Yes, Collins, to thy sacred tomb,
A bard, to Fame's loud voice unknown,
Has come to gaze, to sigh, to moan,
Then pass unnotic'd and alone,
Sad musing on thy doom.
Hark, how the pillar'd aisle along,
Pours the loud voice of sacred song;
Now gently sinking, murmuring, dying,
Like cherub choir, on some wild cloud flying;
Now swelling, thrilling, thundering round,
Awful sweeps the echoing sound;
Down the aisles triumphant flowing,
Strains with hope and rapture glowing,
To the Eternal's throne our praises bear.
But list! it flies,
It sinks, it dies,
In a slow majestic fall,
Whose long vibrations shake the lofty wall,
Till distant heard, one solemn note
Comes with sweet undulating float,
Upon the soft wings of the charmed air.

Great bard, thus where thy ashes sleep
The varied streams of music roll,
On Fancy's ear they wildly sweep,
And renovate the soul.
Say! Heard ye not that magic strain,
That mingled with the mortal choir,
'Twas Collins self that spoke again,
And touch'd the impassion'd lyre;
See rising at the thrilling sound,
Wild terror breaks the silent tomb,
Begirt with shadowy monsters round,
And veiled in murky gloom.
Varying with the chanting strain,
Airy shapes in tumult rise,
Anger fierce, distorted pain,
That rends the vault with hideous cries.
Once again the notes breathe slow,
Strains symphonious melt in air;
Sudden flies the pageant shew,
Back recoils, half seen, Despair.

Lo! what form divinely bright
Floats in streams of purple light;
Moving to the dulcet measure,
Breathing awe and chastest pleasure;
'Tis the mortal-loving maid,
Last to fly, and first to aid,—
Hope, enchanting Hope, 'tis thou,
By the gently smiling brow,
By thy glass, whose shadows shew
Future joys, midst present woe;
By thy golden waving hair,
Vernal cheek, and bosom fair:
This is the goddess of thy praise,
Collins, in thy halcyon days.

Again! again, the uproar loud
Bursts upon the startled ear;
Again returns the yelling croud,
Led on by frantic Fear.
He starts, he shrinks, at every wind,
And strives, but dare not, look behind.

But, O! what yell terrific burst
From the mansions of the dead?
'Twas moody Madness' laugh accurs'd,
By wild Remorse and Horror led.
Such, Collins, was the fearful guest
That led, through agony, thy soul to rest.

They melt, they vanish, from my view,
The unsubstantial vision's fled,
The shades of those his pencil drew.
Peace to the manes of th' immortal dead.