1815 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Thomas Chatterton

G. H. T., "Thomas Chatterton. Written on the Banks of the Avon" 1815; New Monthly Magazine 5 (February 1816) 48.



Where Avon winds his gentle stream,
And harvests bless the lab'ring swain;
The rockly glen, the flow'ry plain,
The Alpine hills, the shelt'ring grove—
His native scenes in boyhood's dream!
Th' inspired boy did oft in rapture rove!

Keen the fix'd eye, sublime of soul,
No cold, dull caution, barr'd the way—
But he, in blaze of Genius' day,
Essay'd the steepest heights of Fame!
As mountain flood disdain'd control—
And gain'd th' immortal wreath in Aella's deathless name!

Visions of glory! early fled,
Transient as summer's golden morn!
And lo! around terrific borne,
The lucid tempest wing'd its course
Impetuous on th' unshelter'd head!
Scath'd by the storm, he fell a livid corse!

O Chatterton! thy hapless fate
Mocks the weak effort of the lyre—
Nor may the humble muse aspire,
Though admiration points thy flight!
Genius, with ardent hopes elate,
In youth's bright dawn quench'd in the shades of night!

Beam of the soul, that led astray;
Radiance, too strong for mortal ken;
By thee Life's ev'ning path was seen—
Dazzling, with golden hopes, the boy!
Enchantress! by thy powerful ray
He soar'd, nor deem'd that aught could happiness destroy!

Yes, Poesy! thou wast the cause—
Unfitted with Life's useful aim,
He, impious, dar'd the deed of shame—
Thou wooed'st him to thy native sphere!
For heaven he spurn'd at Nature's laws—
And thou alone may'st plead his flight from sorrow here!

And thou — for harmony is thine—
Wilt plead in sacred strains above!
Heaven and creative power are Love!
Immortal! to thy God restor'd,
Beam of thy God, and light divine—
Thou art in heaven, and still by all ador'd!

Still on the cliff, in frowning skies,
That were to thee with rapture fraught,
Awakening the solemn thought,
Spirits of song! is seen thy form,
Thy shadowy car in clouds t' arise,
And oft, in thunder loud, thy voice is in the storm!

Spirit of song! in glory drest,
Whose sun beams gild the mountain's brow,
And cheer with smiles the vales below—
To thee the hymn the peasants raise,
Thy beams the teeming harvest blest!
The universal song, eternal, chants thy praise!

Where Avon winds her hallow'd tide,
The laughing plains and hills between—
Radcleeve! thy column points the scene,
And Sculpture mourns the Minstrel's doom!
Yet though in life of fame denied,
Th' unfading wreath immortal decks his tomb!
Blackheath, Oct. 10, 1815.