1827 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Jeremiah Holmes Wiffen

William Howitt, "To J. H. Wiffen" Howitt, Desolation of Eyam (1827) 86-88.



Nay, tell me not of tears and sighs,
I will, that grief mar not delight;
For once, thy lyre's glad tones shall rise,
And joy shall be our word to-night.
And taste, and wit, and song shall shower
A radiance o'er our parting hour.

I know that they, when last we met,
Who smiled amongst us, are not here;
I know that grief has been, but yet—
I ban the sigh, debar the tear;
To weave the parting hour a braid,
We'll choose the sunshine, not the shade.

Turn to the past, it will not seem
All desert, or delusive ray;
Though many a flower, and many a beam
Have passed to darkness and decay,
A splendour shines — an amaranth flower
Has bloomed through life's most wintry hour.

I know that what we love the most
Fades fleetest from before our eyes,
The richest gems are soonest lost;
And death takes first whom best we prize.
Yet, not for this shall sorrow gloom,
For flowers will flourish o'er a tomb.

Think of thy youth, the light that came
In vision for thy future day;
Thy dream of song; thy hope of fame;
And the bright charm of many a lay;
And how thy youthful fancy wove
An iris-woof of light and love.

Unfolding years may prove how vain
The hopes we nurture in our youth
But, fleeting some — do none remain
To prove our soul's aspiring, truth?—
Think of thy sweet harp's dearest tone
As it made Tasso's lay thine own.

For song has been a sacred fire
Within thy soul, unquenched, undimmed.
So we, to-night, will pledge thy lyre,
And joy's cup shall be fully brimmed,
For come what may of good or ill,
Thy lyre is thine, unchanging still.

So tell me not of tears and sighs,
I will, that grief mar not delight;
Our hearts shall withering care despise,
And joy our watchword be to-night.
And song, and taste, and wit shall shower
A radiance o'er our parting hour.