1816 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Francis Noel Clarke Mundy

C. A. H., "To the Memory of Francis Noel Clarke Mundy Esq." Gentleman's Magazine 86 (August 1816) 158.



Fast fade the flowers, that lingering yet awhile
On Needwood's banks, recall her days of pride;
Winter's rude blast hath chas'd the transient smile
That seem'd the memory of her wrongs to hide;
Fresh stream the tears which Time had well-nigh dried,
As the lone Wood-nymph views the wilderness,
Once blooming land, whose leafless waste doth chide
The hand that work'd thy ruin past redress;
And aim'd its deadliest blow when seeming to caress.

Where are the gentle tenants that so long
Rang'd thy free pastures, and securely fed
Beneath thy Swilcar's arms, a peaceful throng?
All, all in that inhuman slaughter bled,
When Uproar to the chace her blood-hounds led;
And the raised tube, with frequent volleys hot,
Stopp'd their wild flight with barriers of the dead.
Ah! injur'd race, your birth-right was forgot,
Vain were your piercing cries, your tyrants heard them not.

Blithe were thy woods, wild region of delight;
They rung with many a carol to the morn,
Ere yet thy outrag'd warblers took their flight
From their old bowers of woodbine, oak, and thorn.
No more the early ranger's bugle-horn
Rouses the peasant at his morning toil;
No more he breathes that fragrance, which the dawn
Stole from the treasures of thy bounteous soil,
Ere man's cold heart forbade thy forest flowers to smile.

No truant school-boy loves to wander now
Amid thy wooded dingles and thy glades;
Rich with the spoil of many a hazel-bough,
He little recks how fast the day-light fades,
And leaves him yet bewilder'd in thy shades,
Till every rustling leaf becomes a sprite,
And Fancy hears a thousand phantom-blades
Clash on the shields of Fairy-warriors bright,
Wheeling their marshall'd ranks beneath the moon's pale light.

Ah! Forest, past is that blithe halcyon time
When Elfin feet, in many a circling maze,
Danc'd to the Fairy-minstrel's midnight chime,
In groves that sparkled with the glow-worms rays.
Fled are thy Nymphs, thy Dryads, and thy Fays;
Fled from the haunts where once they lov'd to dwell;
Save when by chance some lingering Wood-nymph pays
A fond but fearful visit to the dell,
Which was the world to her ere Needwood's honours fell.

Yet though the hand of innovating toil
Hath stript the loveliest wild-flowers from thy brow,
Shall we forget the bloom that cloth'd thy soil,
Chang'd as it is, and outrag'd by the plough,
When 'neath his Sycamore's secluding bough,
Thy Mundy's pipe delighted every ear?
Shall we forget those woods, deserted now,
Which once he fill'd with many an echo clear,
That rous'd the skulking fox, or chas'd the bounding deer?

Happy wert thou, sweet Needwood, in the Bard
Who sang thy blooming summer, and thy fall;
For when blind Havock had thy beauties marr'd,
He touch'd a chord that wrung the hearts of all,
And dew'd with tears of fond regret thy pall:
He wove a chaplet of thy fading flowers,
Which memory long her loveliest wreath shall call:
He woke a note of mourning in thy bowers,
Whose cadence still doth soothe these listening ears or ours.

Ah, Needwood! Winter o'er thy form hath cast
His mantle, wove in Sorrow's darkest loom:
Those lips that mourn'd for thee have breath'd their last,
And would'st thou glitter in thy summer bloom?
Who shall the silent pipe again resume,
That from thy Mundy's had unheeded fell?
Mute must it lie beside its master's tomb,
For who shall teach it with those notes to swell,
Which hail'd thy forest bloom, and bade that bloom farewell?