1791 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Michael Bruce

Albert, "Elegy on Michael Bruce" Morning Chronicle (2 June 1791).



Of the young Man, Author of a small volume of Poems, who is the subject of this Elegy; an account is given in the Thirty-sixth Number of the Mirror. He died of a consumption, in the twenty-first year of his age. These lines were suggested by a visit to the place of his residence.

Why vainly bid the animated bust,
Why bid the monumental pile to rise?
Too often Genius doomed by fate unjust,
Unnoticed lives, unwept — unhonour'd dies!

Too oft the Poet, in whose sacred breast
With ardour glow the Muse's purest fires,
Contemned by pride, by penury opprest,
In anguish lives, and in neglect expires!

Too oft, alas! in some sequester'd ground,
Silent and cold, the Poet's ashes sleep;
No pomp of funeral is seen around,
No kindred Bard to praise, no Friend to weep!

Such, BRUCE, the feelings in my breast that rise,
While guided by the Muse, I wander near;
Mark the lone spot where youthful Genius lies,
And give thy fate the tribute of a tear.

Obscure thy birth, yet in thy early breast
How deep and ardent glow'd the Muse's flame;
How strongly in thy bosom was imprest
The Poet's genius, and the Poet's fame!

Such was thy mind, but, ah! upon thy frame
Disease relentless urg'd its envious way;
Fled was each joy of health, each hope of fame,
And thou the victim of a slow decay.

Like some fair flower, that owes the desert birth,
Whose buds foretel the beauty of its prime,
That sinks unsheltered, sinks unseen to earth,
Chilled by the blast, or cropt before its time.

Perhaps thus blasted by unfriendly doom,
Thy genius foster'd in a milder air,
Matur'd by age, in all the pride of bloom,
Had spread luxuriant, and had flourish'd fair!

But, ah! no more the Poet now remains,
Cold is the breast that glow'd with sacred fire,
Mute is the tongue that flow'd in tuneful strains,
Check'd is the hand, and silent is the lyre!

For him, who now laments thy early tomb,
Like thee inspir'd with youthful love of lays,
Though now he mourn, he soon may share thy doom,
May soon require the tribute which he pays.