1809 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Henry Kirke White

Lord Byron, in English Bards and Scotch Reviewers (1809); Poetical Works, ed. E. H. Coleridge (1898-1904) 1:363-64 & n.



Unhappy WHITE! while life was in its spring,
And thy young Muse just waved her joyous wing,
The Spoiler swept that soaring Lyre away,
Which else had sounded an immortal lay.
Oh! what a noble heart was here undone,
When Science' self destroyed her favourite son!
Yes, she too much indulged thy fond pursuit,
She sowed the seeds, but Death has reaped the fruit.
'Twas thine own Genius gave the final blow,
And helped to plant the wound that laid thee low:
So the struck Eagle, stretched upon the plain,
No more through rolling clouds to soar again,
Viewed his own feather on the fatal dart,
And winged the shaft that quivered in his heart;
Keen were his pangs, but keener far to feel
He nursed the pinion which impelled the steel;
While the same plumage that had warmed his nest
Drank the last life-drop of his bleeding breast.

Henry Kirke White died at Cambridge, in October 1806, in consequence of too much exertion in pursuit of studies that would have matured a mind which disease and poverty could not impair, and which Death itself destroyed rather than subdued. His poems abound in such beauties as must impress the reader with the livliest regret that so short a period was allotted to talents, which would have dignified even the sacred functions he was destined to assume.