1784 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Michael Bruce

Anonymous, "Verses written at the Grave of Michael Bruce" Caledonian Mercury (4 October 1784).



Ye moul'dring monuments of rustic state
That guard the ashes sacred from the great;
Historic piles that mark th' unletter'd name;
Vaults that re-echo to ignoble fame!
New to your Gothic gloom, I press the bier
Of Daphnis lost, and wet with many a tear;
His ashes cold; in youth and fancy's bloom
Consign'd the tenant of an early tomb!

Ah! was the mind that felt celestial fire,
The heart that glow'd with elegant desire,
The genius self-inspir'd, the native rage
That match'd the beauties of the classic page,
Giv'n for a moment to th' enamour'd light,
Then snatch'd for ever to the shades of night?

What now avails th' ambition wildly great
That broke the barriers of a vulgar fate?
The noble thirst to rear an honour'd name,
Fair and conspicuous in the rolls of fame?
High in thy hopes, with noblest wishes warm,
The tyrant of the tomb has broke the charm;
Hush'd in repose thy ever-aching head,
Thou lost companion of the vulgar dead!

How oft, relenting to the vernal ray,
When trembling nature lends the landscape gay,
New winter from the pole, with ruffian storms,
The spring, and all its lovely scenes, deforms,
Blasts the untimely blossom of the bow'rs,
And sweeps the infant family of flow'rs?
Ah! Daphnis! such the killing blast of time
That marr'd the golden promise of thy prime;
Thy vernal bloom to one short hour confin'd,
And ever cast in shades the morning of thy mind!

O'er thy lone couch no love-devoted train
Hung to diffuse the lenitives of pain;
No soothing accent hush'd thy mourning cries,
No friendly features met thy dying eyes;
Far from thy friends, from each connection dear,
No form congenial dropt the tender tear;
'Twas thine, the orphan of despair, to groan,
Left in the dreary wilderness alone.

Ah! will the Muses nor protect their son,
Nor shield their favourite till he race be run?
Will no kind patron his protection lend,
And in the poet recognise the friend;
On learning's rising honours build his own,
Proud to adopt the children of renown?

In vain I call: Their aid no patrons send;
Nor wit nor beauty ever found a friend.
From Homer, father of poetic fire,
To Chatterton who strung the recent lyre,
See, want and wretchedness their steps betray,
And Fate, grim-smiling, mark his destin'd prey.
See Milton, favour'd of th' immortal nine,
Creator of a Paradise divine,
Obscure, abandon'd, indigent, and blind,
Forsake the world, nor cast one look behind.
Ill-fated Otway! at thy tragic urn
All future ages shall admire and mourn.

Ambitious Britain, in her boundless mind,
The vast Maecenas of the human kind,
Now from the prison, now from Bedlam brings
The honour'd ashes that repose with Kings.

The classic head, with living laurel crown'd,
Went naked to the storm when winter frown'd;
The heart, whose feelings glow to times unborn,
Was left to throb unpitied and forlorn.
Fame's hundred tongues his funeral song proclaim,
Whose ear is torpid to the voice of fame;
And proud Mausoleums in rich pomp arise,
When merit finds his mansion in the skies.