1778 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Thomas Chatterton

Hannah Cowley, "Monody on the Death of Chatterton" Morning Post and Daily Advertiser (24 October 1778).



O CHATTERTON! for thee the pensive song I raise,
Thou object of my wonder, pity, envy, praise!
Bright star of genius! — torn from life and fame,
My tears, my verse, shall consecrate thy name!
Ye muses! who around his natal bed
Triumphant sung, and all your influence shed;
APOLLO! thou who wrapt his infant breast,
And, in his daedal numbers, shone confest,
Ah! why, in vain, such mighty gifts bestow—
Why give fresh tortures to the child of woe?
Why thus, with barb'rous care, illume his mind—
Adding new sense to all the ills behind?

Thou haggard! Poverty! whose cheerless eye
Transforms young rapture, to the pondrous sigh;
In whose drear cave no Muse e'er struck the lyre,
Nor Bard e'er madned with poetic fire;
Why all thy spells for CHATTERTON combine—
His thought, creative, why must thou confine?
Subdu'd by thee, his pen no more obeys,
No longer gives the song of ancient days;
Nor paints in glowing tints from distant skies,
Nor bids wild scen'ry rush upon our eyes—
Check'd in her flight, his rapid genius cowers,
Drops her sad plumes, and yields to thee her powers.

Behold him, Muses! see your fav'rite son
The prey of Want, ere manhood is begun!
The bosom ye have fill'd, with anguish torn—
The mind you cherish'd, drooping and forlorn!

And now Despair her sable form extends,
Creeps to his couch, and o'er his pillow bends.
Ah see! a deadly bowl the fiend conceal'd,
Which to his eye with caution is reveal'd—
Seize it APOLLO! — Seize the liquid snare!
Dash it to earth, or dissipate in air!
Stay, hapless youth! refrain, — abhor the draught,
With pangs, with racks, with deep repentance fraught!
Oh, hold! the cup with woe ETERNAL flows,
More — more than Death the pois'nous juice bestows!
In vain! — he drinks — and now the searching fires
Rush through his veins, and writhing he expires!
No sorrowing friend, no sister, parent, nigh,
To ease his pangs, or catch his parting sigh;
Alone, unknown, the Muses darling dies,
And with the vulgar dead, unnoted lies.
Bright star of genius! — torn from life and fame,
My tears, my verse, shall consecrate thy name!