1783 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Thomas Chatterton

Albert, "Epitaph, to the Memory of Chatterton" European Magazine 4 (November 1783) 389.



Beneath this stone a hapless bard is laid,
In the dark mansions of the silent dead!
Heir to no riches, from an early age,
For praise and profit long he penn'd the page,
'Till cheerless poverty began her reign,
And damp'd the ardour of his tuneful strain;
Then death releas'd him from this world of pain,
Where long he sought for happiness in vain—
Had W— led the aspiring youth to fame,
Immortal honours would have crown'd his name!
But he ne'er found a patron in the great,
And future bards shall oft with grief relate,
That Chatterton, the wonder of the age,
Sunk under poverty's resistless rage;
Oppress'd with misery, sought poison's aid,
And the last tribute much too early paid.—
No longer sway'd by avarice appear,
But learn compassion's ever lovely way,
And cherish genius with a fostering ray;
Reward the poet who can pleasure give,
And bid the muses' offspring joyful live;
So shall posterity your names adore,
And sing your praise till time shall be no more.
Sept. 21, 1783.