1808 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Henry Kirke White

Elizabeth Conder, "To the Memory of Henry Kirke White" 1808; The Associate Minstrels (1810) 87-90.



While in full choir the solemn requiem swells,
And bids the tranced thought sublimely soar;
While Sorrow's breath inspires responsive shells;
One strain of simple grief my reed would pour.
No splendid offering
Of lofty praise I bring;
Yet, sainted spirit! own the pensive tear,
Shed, in sad tribute, on thy early bier.

Soft as the airs that fan the waking Spring,
And o'er the margin of some melting rill
In music wild their sounds Aeolian fling,
When the pale North regains his empire chill,
And all his fury dies;
Thy touching minstrelsies
With magic sweetness on thy spring arose;
Then, faintly murmuring, sunk to deep repose.

For thee his glowing torch did Genius fire:—
Who now its meteor-brightness shall recal?
Too soon he bore it to thy funeral,
And bid, in drowning tears, its flame expire!—
For thee did Fancy weave a chaplet wild,
And from her woodland bower,
With many a forest flower,
Enwreathe the brows of her much-favoured child:—
Still they preserve a lasting bloom;
But, ah! they blossom on thy tomb!

Hushed is the melting cadence of the lyre,
That once could sweetest melodies impart:
Its softened echoes vibrate on the heart,
But dews of death have quenched the Poet's fire.
Sure 'twas a phoenix flame;
Kindled from heaven it came;
And with its native spark so closely blended,
That soon, to heaven impelled, it re-ascended.

As wandering through the waste of desert lands,
Some wearied pilgrim seeks a holy shrine,
And speeds him o'er the blaze of torrid sands,
To catch of parted worth some trace divine:
So to thy sacred turf would I repair;
And while on Fame's recording page I see
Thy polished graces, or thy virtues fair,
Thy wisdom mild, or heaven-taught piety;
The vestige of thy worth would share,
And thence some precious relic bear.

What though, no longer beaming here below,
Thy radiant star of life has ceased to burn,
Still shall its fire on Fancy's vision glow,
And Memory shed her moonbeam on thine urn.
Though early vanished hence, an angel band
Marked its swift progress o'er this realm of night,
Watched the last lustre of its fading light,
And hailed its rising on a fairer land.
Above the flaming zone of day,
Sparkling with exhaustless ray,
Fixed, shall it shine, in living glory bright,
When Time's last midnight long has rolled away.
Sept. 23, 1808.