1802 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Cowper

W. T., "Elegy, to the Memory of William Cowper, Esq." Gentleman's Magazine 72 (November 1802) 1044.



To thee, great Bard, each grateful Muse would pay
The last sad tribute to thy mem'ry due;
For thee would cull the sweetest flow'rs of May,
And o'er thy hallow'd bier rich garlands strew.

For thou wast dear alike to all the Nine,
Rich in each grace of poesy to please,
The "thoughts that breathe, and words that burn," were thine,
Thine, Sweetness, Force, Simplicity, and Ease.

Themes of sublimest sort were thy regard,
Correctly studious of great Nature's plan,
And while Taste bids us to admire the Bard,
Virtue compels us to revere the Man.

Still as we read, th' enraptur'd soul doth own,
'Tis Heav'n-born genius marks each glowing line;
'Tis Fancy hails thee as her fav'rite son,
Fraught with rich stores from her exhaustless mine.

To Virtue dear thyself, in Virtue's praise,
Oft as the theme thy fond regard did claim,
Grac'd by the magic sweetness of thy lays,
Exalted higher seem'd her spotless name.

Religion too, sweet balm of ev'ry ill,
Her doctrines pure thy tuneful strains impress'd,
E'en with as fervent, with as fix'd a zeal,
As ever fir'd a Saint's or Martyr's breast.

While Vice and Folly felt thy keen rebuke,
Their semblance vile, pourtray'd in tints so true,
That honest Shame succeeds Effront'ry's look,
Appall'd themselves, and frighted at the view.

This humble trophy, to record thy worth,
No venal Eulogist essays to rear,
Now, that thy purer spirit quits this earth,
Can Flatt'ry's voice offend thy modest ear?

But what avails the Poet's feebler aim?
Though simple Truth adorn his artless lay;
Since thy own verse shall stamp a deathless name,
And give thee down to Time's remotest day.
Beachampton, Oct. 21.