1806 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Henry Kirke White

Cornelius Webbe, "Elegiac Lines on the Death of Henry Kirke White, written in 1806" New Monthly Magazine 3 (June 1815) 434-35.



Oh death, thy cruel and insensate pow'r
Has robb'd sad genius of her brightest flow'r!
Soon to the grave the form will be consign'd
Of one, the blazing lustre of whose mind
Shone like the stars in heav'n's blue firmament—
As bright, as cheering, and as innocent!
To him her stores rich nature open laid;
And Learning's self, a wise, instructive maid,
Taught him to climb the tow'ring height of fame;
His own approval, and her warm acclaim,
Still urg'd him on, till cold consumption's hand
(Ere that the world well had his genius scann'd)
Froze the warm blood that flow'd around a heart
As free from guilt, and as devoid of art
As the pure-soul'd, heav'n-serving cherubim!
The little aims of this low world by him
Were spurn'd, as clogs to his high-soaring wings.
Oh that the humble youth who feels and sings
His great deservings, and their just reward,
Could tread fame's path with him, and win regard
As high; then should his fingers' latest touch
Bid the harp speak his worth, in breathings such
As heav'nly minstrels draw from Eol's lyre;
But ah! to him the Muse denies her fire.

Let him be laid beneath the cypress gloom!
The Nine, with sobbing breast, shall haunt his tomb.
Her lyre unstrung, Erato most shall mourn;
Down-looking, melancholy, inward-worn,
Her face shall yellow shew as autumn leaf,
There Friendship oft shall bend, and wet-ey'd Grief;
And Genius' self, whose furrow'd face and brow,
Now sadness wearing — admiration now,
For ever quickly-varying, shall show
A mother's pride conqu'ring a mother's woe.
There Learning's sons, through ev'ning's sombre hours,
With heart-born sighs, and wreaths of blooming flow'rs,
By tears bedew'd, shall hover round his urn,
Till time shall be no more, and chaos shall return.

Who does not wish to live a life like his,
So full of virtue, which alone is bliss?
Oh, there are some his early death who weep,
Might envy peaceful him his happy sleep!
May my life be like his — my death the same;
As sure of heav'n, and next to heav'n, of fame!