1774 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Oliver Goldsmith

John Tait, The Druid's Monument (1774) 5-14.



The moon shone bright — I stray'd along,
Where Thames so sweetly flows,
And oft I rais'd the rustic song,
Impell'd by fancied woes.

I sung of love, and all its charms,
Of love with scorn repaid,
I sung of jealousy's alarms,
And blam'd th' inconstant maid.

"Farewell, I cried, ye giddy train,
So fickle and untrue,
And heav'n protect that hapless swain,
Who builds his hopes on you.

"These hopes, alas! will quickly fly,
Nor leave a shade behind,
And cold disdain shall arm that eye,
Which lately beam'd so kind.

"Yet to that slighted youth, the Spring
Smiles chearfully in vain,
And tho' the Linnets sweetly sing,
They cannot ease his pain."—

Thus flow'd my strain, as fancy bade,
I thought no mortal nigh—
I turn'd me to the sylvan shade,
A stranger caught my eye.

Grief mark'd his face, his locks were grey,
An ancient harp he bore,
And plain and rude was his array,
As that which Druids wore.

"Mortal, he said, thy cares are vain,
Such cares thou must forego;
It ill becomes thee to complain,
Or grieve at fancied woe.

"If grief you love, come follow me,
And where yon elms appear,
A mournful monument you'll see
That justly claims a tear.

"That monument the DRUIDS rais'd,
It bears a Poet's name,
Whom Britain's children long have prais'd,
A fav'rite son of fame.

"Oft have we seen him on these plains,
(He lov'd the calm retreat)
Oft have we heard his polish'd strains,
And every note was sweet.

"Say, Nature say, for thou canst tell,
Are not the words thy own,
When to the hermit's peaceful cell—
The poet leads us on.

"Do not thy thoughts appear,
Does not thy voice adorn,
When these sweet sounds salute the ear,
'Turn, gentle hermit, turn.'

"O! say what beauties grace the song,
What heavenly Ardor warms,
When ANGELINA, lost so long,
Is lock'd in EDWIN'S arms.

"This strain the Druids oft repeat
In some sequester'd grove,
Where with the Fairy train they met,
To hear the tales of love.

"For still the Druids haunt this isle,
And fairies oft are seen,
When sleep rewards the plowman's toil,
And shepherds leave the green.

"Oft hand in hand, in mirthful mood,
At night we tread the lawn,
And hide us in this lonely wood,
When day begins to dawn.

"And here with some bewitching strain,
We cheat the ling'ring hours,
Till the pale moon returns again,
And makes all nature ours.

"And oft in hearing GOLDSMITH'S lays,
These lays that touch the soul,
We've pass'd the longest Summer days,
And wonder'd how they stole.

"But ah! these strains we'll hear no more,
For to yon darksome dell,
This morn the weeping shepherds bore,
The bard we lov'd so well:

"With decent grace we saw them bend,
And lay in yonder grave,
The friend of man, the muse's friend,
Whom virtue could not save.

"And can we stay when he is gone?
Can we enjoy these plains?
Ah! no, their sweetest charms are flown,
They've lost their poet's strains.—

"Auburn farewell — no more we'll stray
'Mid thy deserted bow'rs,
T' applaud thy poet's plaintive lay,
And pluck thy withering flow'rs.

"No more the Druids shall appear,
But like thy hapless train,
Drop, as they pass, a silent tear,
And seek some happier plain.

"Yet on that plain, where'er it is,
We'll oft together join,
And fondly tell the scenes of bliss
The joys that once were thine.

"Ev'n there we'll crown thy bard with bays,
And give him just applause,
When we recall his pleasing lays,
And think what Auburn was.

"Perhaps where Alpine hills ascend,
We'll sit us down at last,
And see fair ITALY extend,
And think of pleasures past;

"Then turning, trace the various scenes
Where GOLDSMITH'S pencil drew,
And own, with tears, that all his strains
Are just, are strictly true.

"Yet ere we left our native land,
We rais'd this sacred stone,
Where SCULPTURE, with an artful hand,
The poet's worth hath shown.

"Then turn and read — nor rail at love,
Nor drop that useless tear,
Nor let unreal sorrow move,
But pay a tribute here."

I turned, I read, I heav'd a sigh,
My conduct who can blame,
For every bard that passes by
Will always do the same.

THE INSCRIPTION.
"Adieu sweet bard, to each fine feeling true,
Thy virtues many, and thy foibles few,
Those form'd to charm, ev'n vicious minds, and these
With harmless mirth the social soul to please,
Another's woe thy heart could always melt,
None give more free, for none more deeply felt.
Sweet bard adieu, thy own harmonious lays
Have sculptur'd out thy monument of praise.
Yes — these survive to time's remotest day,
While drops the bust, and boastful tombs decay.—
Reader, if number'd in the muse's train,
Go tune the lyre, and imitate his strain;
But, if no poet thou, reverse the plan,
Depart in peace, and imitate the man."