1808 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Henry Kirke White

Philammon, "Elegy on the Death of Henry Kirke White" Gentleman's Magazine 78 (Supplement 1808) 1176.



What solemn sound disturbs the midnight air,
And o'er my spirits holds such dread controul?
What haggard form, with torch of deadly glare,
Illumes the regions of the Northern Pole?

I hear it still, but now the lapwing's scream
Swells on the breezes of the Arctic spheres:
'Tis — 'tis the confirmation of my dream,
The grand event foretold by holy seers!

Yet whence yon Demon, that in black array,
So wildly rushes on ensanguin'd wing?
His hideous features certainly convey
The gloomy semblance of th' infernal King!

Tell me, ye powers, who with a rapid flight
Roam through the realms coerulean afar;
What Demon rushes with portentous light,
Beneath the precincts of the Polar star?

"Peace, peace! sad Muser! — mark yon weeping train,"
A voice replied, "that wind thro' yonder shade;
'Tis they who raise the melancholy strain,
Whose torches glimmer in the midnight shade."

Struck with the sound, I turn'd, and saw the train,
O'erwhelm'd in sorrow, wind devoutly slow;
Beheld four youths the sacred corse sustain,
And heard them chaunt their madrigals of woe.

Within the walls of an ensculptur'd tomb,
Too soon I saw him number'd with the dead;
Whilst Virtue, scattering incense thro' the gloom,
Embalm'd the laurels that adorn'd his head.

Thus were his relics given to the earth—
Thus pass the pageantries of life away!
Ah! where's the greatness of imperial birth,
When even here the Monarch must obey?

Yet round thy grave, sweet Moralist! shall spread,
The earliest flowrets of the bashful spring;
And there at eve shall Melancholy tread,
Save when the winds their hollow dirges fling.
January 1808.