1797 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Gifford

Anonymous, in "The Author of the Baviad and Maeviad" The True Briton (4 August 1797).



That this Gentleman is a POET, the world has long confessed; but he has been chiefly distinguished as a Satyrist, to whose labours we are principally indebted for the exposure, and consequent punishment, of that false and vicious taste in Poetry, which some of our would-be Poets created, through the medium of the frivolous Papers of that day. In the tender and pathetic, however, Mr. GIFFORD has equal claims to our admiration and our praise, as in his spirited and nervous imitations of Horace and Persius. The following beautiful little Poem, which appears, for the first time, in a note in the new edition of his Satires, was written some years ago.

I wish I was where ANNA lies,
For I am sick of lingering here,
And every hour Affection cries,
"Go, and partake her humble bier."

I wish I could! for when she died
I lost my all; and life has prov'd,
Since that sad hour, a dreary void—
A waste unlovely, and unlov'd.

But who, when I am turn'd to clay,
Shall duly to her grave repair,
And pluck the ragged moss away,
And weeds that have "no business there?"

And who with pious hand shall bring
The flowers she cherish'd, snow-drops cold,
And violets that unheeded spring,
To scatter o'er her hallow'd mold?

And who, while Memory loves to dwell
Upon her name, for ever dear,
Shall feel his heart with passion swell,
And pour the bitter, bitter tear?

I DID IT; and, would Fate allow,
Should visit still, and still deplore—
But health and strength have left me now,
And I, alas! can weep no more.

Take then, sweet Maid! this simple strain,
The last I offer at thy shrine;
Thy grave must then undeck'd remain,
And all thy memory fade with mine.

And can thy soft persuasive look,
Thy voice, that might with music vie,
Thy air, that ever gazer took,
The matchless eloquence of eye.

Thy spirits, frolicksome, as good,
Thy courage, by no ills dismay'd,
Thy patience, by no wrongs subdu'd,
Thy gay good-humour — can they "fade?"

Perhaps — but sorrow dims my eye;
Cold turf, which I no more must view,
Dear name, which I no more must sigh,
A long, a last, a sad adieu!