1788 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Thomas Chatterton

Thomas Dermody, "Monody on Chatterton written by the late Thomas Dermody, in the 12th year of his Age" The Monthly Magazine 22 (August 1806) 43-44.



Daughters of Heav'n! blest sisters of sweet song,
Who nurse the seedlings of poetic rise
From Poesy's illustrious birth,
Firing some favor'd son of earth,
And lending to his breast a portion of the skies,
O! hither move along
In pensive pace,
Lead bright Imagination's seraph-throng
O'er the rude stones that frown uncouth—
In yon deep dell's oblivious gloom
Sadly sleeps a once-lov'd youth.
Ye wood-flow'rs, breath your wild perfume,
Ye shrouded warblers harmonize the gale,
Here, Autumn, fling thy brilliant bloom,
And fence from wayward winds the sacred vale:
Tread soft, ye infants of the air,
While in the mazy dance you turn,
Tread soft — and pause to mourn,
Mingling your mystic sports with sickly care,
For Genius slumbers here!

True Genius, prompt to mount the sphere
Of Fancy, thrid pure rapture's maze,
And view her with unshrinking gaze,
Prompt to veil in antique dress
What Ancientry could ne'er express,
Catch the buskin's lofty mien,
Or wooe the laughter-loving Queen.
Immortal Boy, thee angels fed
With Poesy's abstracted food,
Thy bowl was fill'd from Fancy's fountain-head,
Thy bowl with wond'rous extacies embu'd:
By Heaven's own chymic skill refin'd,
Thine was the manner of the mind.

Yet man ingrate thy labours view'd,
Unknown from Dullness motley brood!
O! next to him whose master hand
Could thrill the pang'd nerve of the heart,
Bid the quick tear of Pity start,
Or Terror, shudd'ring own his dread command!

Hated reverse to all divine,
See the matchless minstrel pine,
See the blooming wonder die,
Indignant death in his distracted eye!
What curses future aeras, yet unborn,
Shall lavish on the wretch's head
Who saw the tears fond Nature's darling shed
Yet in his bosom struck an aggravating thorn!
Barbarian Britain! could the choicest gem
Of Merit's radiant diadem
Sink in thy gloom, and waste in glorious glow!
Averse to bid neglected genius live,
Say, shalt thou share the fame a Chatterton can give?

Had he but gain'd his manhood's mighty prime,
Bright as the sun, and as the sun sublime,
His soaring soul had borne the awful wand
Of magic power, and o'er the fairy land
Of Fancy shed a new poetic race,
Lending creation to his favor'd place.
But oh! the dying sounds decay,
Ah! they fade away,
Melting, melting, melting,
Melting from the ear of day,
Despair assumes the Muse's lyre,
Damps each softly-sinking fire,
Presses the fury spirit down below,
And tells his stubborn soul the bitter tale of woe.

At last, superior to her chain,
He flies o'er Madness' wild domain,
Despis'd and dejected — he faints and he sighs!
Too rigorous Heav'n! — how ghastly his eyes!
Thus I triumph o'er all — lo! a Chatterton dies!
Spare, oh! spare, Almighty Pow'r!
His frenzy'd passion, spare!
Think upon his case distrest,
And of his soul's fine essence grant a share
To some pure breast!

Long did he brave Unkindness' gorgon eye,
Fell Famine's meagre lip, and Scorn's polluted breath;
He look'd to find a friend — he found no friend but Death!
He never look'd on high,
Or THOU hadst been his friend,
Despair had turn'd his sight below,
Despair had fix'd his home of woe,
Rashly rebellious fell the fatal blow,
God of Mercy! spare his end!
Perchance (to mortal audience still unknown)
In agony's keen parting groan,
No brother near to wrest his hand,
No sire to catch his last command,
No mother's mournful care, to dress his bier,
In hope's aethereal light he saw THEE shine,
And father, mother, brother, sister, all combine—
In the full pity of thy op'ning Heav'n,
His foibles and his faults forgiv'n.
Sweetest Child of Poesye,
May this meet thy soul on high,
Clear thy memory of this world,
And shew thy flag of future fame unfurl'd.