1775 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Robert Fergusson

A Young Lady, "Epitaph intended for Mr. Robert Fergusson" Weekly Magazine or Edinburgh Amusement 27 (26 January 1775) 143-44.



Is DAMON dead! let every eye o'erflow,
A loss so great demands a gen'ral woe;
For Nature's fav'rite has resign'd his breath,
And fall'n a victim to the tyrant Death.

Hark, Nature groans! — her grief strikes ev'ry ear,
In sable mourning see her now appear:
Quick from the vale she 'as pull'd th' enliv'ning green,
And gen'ral sadness thro' the grove is seen.

No more the lark, sweet songster of the dale!
Attunes her throat — She's mute at sorrow's tale:
Ev'n flow'rs and trees in drooping seem to mourn,
And strew their leaves promiscuous o'er his urn.

The lofty pine, who tow'rs above the rest,
And stately oak, who rears to heav'n his crest,
In solemn sorrow each reclines his head,
And strives to pay just honours to the dead.

Sad Philomela chants his fun'ral song,
And the soft breeze wafts the sad sound along.
Shall Nature's face be seen to smile no more?
In frantic grief does she his loss deplore?

And shall proud man neglect to act his part?
Or blush to shew the feelings of his heart?
No sure — some ears will ope to sorrow's cry,
Some gen'rous bosom heave the tender sigh.

This, gratitude proclaims, is justly due
To him who sung, who felt, who wept for you.
A bard so sweet sure Albion ne'er could boast;
A gem so precious ne'er enrich'd her coast.

Who now with festive song our hearts shall chear?
DAMON is dead! when will his like appear?
Come, Beauty! come, weep o'er his early urn:
Let his sad fate inform you how to mourn.

Tho' fortune kept what merit made his due,
Blush, haughty lordlings! blush, ye fopling crew!
Ye in your dress and titles hope to shine,
He like a di'mond sparkled in the mine.

He scorn'd vain pomp — to grandeur laid no claim,
Nor could a title dignify his name:
On him rich Nature lavish'd all her store,
All he could wish, till she could give no more.

And when she had this finish'd pattern made,
Straight to Edina her lov'd darling led:
Behold, she cry'd — Ye hoary sages see,
In all your schools can any teach like me?

Your pedant rules I taught him to despise;
His genuine wit shall ever gain the prize:
He like a meteor shall give dazzling light,
Attract your wonder, and enchant your sight.

Thus did he shine, all lovely to our view,
Great as its blaze but like it transient too.
He gain'd all hearts — so matchless were his lays,
They taught ev'n Envy's serpent tongue to praise.

But short the time allotted him to charm,
To chear all hearts, and ev'ry bosom warm;
Like blooming flow'r, whose sweets are quickly past,
That cannot bear the bleak, the northern blast.

Neither could he the blasts of Fortune stand,
He droop'd a while, then left th' ungrateful land.
Ye men of genius, who admir'd his parts,
Draw near his grave, and vent your grief-swoln hearts!

And thou, Edina, should'st thou fail to raise
A lasting trophy to thy DAMON'S praise,
Fame shall resound his name from shore to shore,
And make him live when thou art known no more.