1803 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Alexander Thomson

Jessie Stewart, "On the Death of Alexander Thomson" Edinburgh Magazine or Literary Miscellany NS 22 (December 1803) 453-54.



The moon emerging from the sparkling waves,
Flings her wan lustre o'er yon dewy graves;
Where shivering phantoms, as the pale beam falls,
Shrink to the gloom that shades yon hoary walls.
There the green turf, by widow'd Beauty bless'd,
Waves its chill'd verdure o'er her Poet's breast—
Their viewless forms on whispering wings shall come,
When starry midnight lights her vaulted dome,
And pour the mournful music of the sky,
Where pale in death the unconscious relics lie.

Ah! in that hour when Friendship's watchful eye,
Saw o'er his cheek the transient hectics fly,
Still Love believed — the fitful struggle past—
The palsied bosom might revive at last:
That life's pure stream might warm each frozen vein,
And chase the heavy stupor of the brain;
The pale damp brow, the cold convulsed frame;
The eye, where trembled life's expiring flame
Bade the fond wish that fluttered round her heart,
In the last sigh of dying Hope depart.

Unwearied Friendship watched the labouring breast,
Close the dim'd eye in everlasting rest,
And hush'd the widow'd mourner's piercing cry,
While throbbed her heart in tearless agony.
To her sad beast her babes unconscious clung,
While transient grief each guileless bosom wrung;
Tho' deep the sob, and keen the bitter sigh,
Light pass the woes of playful infancy;
But can revolving Time, can Fancy's beam
Restore the bliss of youth's romantic dream,
Or bid the soul, by secret anguish worn,
Own the warm transports of her early morn?
Even the gay flowers, by youthful genius wove,
A votive chaplet for the shrine of Love,
Glows for a while in heaven's celestial bloom,
Then fades and sickens in sepulchral gloom!

Oh! did thy soul in Deanston's classic bower,
Presage the anguish of this lonely hour?
Say, lovely mourner! when the varying gale,
Blew from the mountain cliffs that shade the vale;
Or when the pine tree bow'd its stately form,
Flung its strong branch, and struggled with the storm,
Oh! didst thou dream, that from the storms would rave,
And thy sad heart beat o'er the gloomy grave!
When Genius woke for Thee the living lyre,
And hovering Fancy gave her holiest fire;
While glowing scenes rush'd on thy Poet's eye,
Bright in the changing colours of the sky,
Thou sawest the fairy groves of Hope arise,
Peopled with forms from opening paradise,
And while she sung of blissful years to come,
Spread her light wings, and veiled the yawning tomb!
Edinburgh, Dec. 24, 1803.