1812 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Thomas Chatterton

William Henry Ireland, "Thomas Chatterton" Neglected Genius (1812) 57-58.



Last of my mis'ry-blighted train I sing,
A soaring genius of life's op'ning spring;
The child of fancy beams in boyhood's guise,
Astounding sense, and dazzling human eyes:
Thy bard, drear Bristol, now proclaims my lyre,
In childhood nerv'd with true poetic fire;
Great Chatterton awakes my pensive song,
Sublimest stripling of the muse's throng;
Prolific prodigy of fancy's womb,
Born but to blaze, then moulder in the tomb.
Unus'd to genius, and too dull to know
Its dawning impulse and enkindling glow,
Repulsive Bristol banish'd thence its pride,
While sorrowing fancy turn'd her head aside,
Saw him depart, her true adopted son,
Doom'd to expire ere youth's career was run.
Senseless Bristolians, ye at once infuse
The damning spirit of the vengeful Jews;
Ye doom'd your child of wonder to the grave,
They crucified their God, who came to save;
Your idol's gain, all merit ye despise,
Pelf is the beacon Juda's children prize:
Thus link'd in sordid amity ye move,
Talent is martyr'd for the god ye love.
Enough of Bristol's shame, a future flight
Shall paint that region of chaotic night;
Let other themes engage the muse's lyre,
And scare dull folly with her beamy fire;
Or as the mighty youth in nobler lays
Wou'd clothe a Rowley in his heav'nly blaze,
With humbler fancy thus I wake the strings,
To pluck one feather from his soaring wings.