1773 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Thomas Gray

Anonymous, "On the Death of Mr. Gray" London Magazine 42 (May 1773) 250.



Enough of fabling, and th' unhallow'd haunts
Of Dian' and of Delia, names profane,
Since not Diana nor all Delia's train
Are subjects that befit a serious song;
For who the bards among
May but compare with the lamented Gray!
Whose pensive solemn lay
Drew all the list'ning shepherds in a ring,
Well pleas'd to hear thee sing
Thy moving notes, on sunny hill or plain,
And catch new grace from thy immortal strain.

O wood-hung Meinai, and ye sacred groves
Of Delphi, we still venerate your names,
Whose awful shades inspir'd the Druids dreams.
Your recess, tho' imagin'd, Fancy loves,
And thro' these long-lost scenes delighted roves;
So future bards perhaps shall sing of Thames,
And as they sing shall say,
'Twas there of old where mus'd illustrious Gray!
By Isis' banks his tuneful lays would suit
To Pindar's lofty lyre, or Sappho's Lesbian lute.

Oft would he sing, when the still eve came on,
Till sable Night resum'd her ebon throne,
And taught us, in his melancholic mood,
To scorn the great, and love the wise and good;
Told us 'twas virtue never dies,
And to what ills frail mankind open lies;
How safe thro' life's tempestuous sea to steer,
Where dang'rous rocks and shelves and whirlpools oft appear.

And when fair Morn arose again to view,
A fairer landscape still he drew,
That blooms like Eden in his charming lays,
The hills and dales, and heav'n's caerulean blue,
Brighten'd o'er all by Sol's resplendent rays.
The musky gale, in rosey vale,
And gilded clouds on azure hills,
The fragrant bow'rs, and painted flow'rs,
And tinklings of the silver rills;
The very insects, that in sun-beams play,
Turn useful monitors in his grave moral lay.

But, ah! sad Melancholy intervenes,
And draws a cloud o'er all theses shining scenes.
'Tis her, alas! we often find,
The troubler of each great unbounded mind,
And leagu'd with her associate Fear,
Will tremble lest the turning sphere,
And sinking earth, and reeling planets run
In dire disorder with the falling sun.

But now, great bard, thy life of pain is o'er;
'Tis we must weep, tho' thou shalt grieve no more.
Thro' other scenes thou now dost rove,
And cloath'd with gladness walk'st the courts
And listen'd to the heav'nly choir,
Hymning their God, while seraphs strike the lyre.
Safe with them in these radiant climes of bliss,
Thou now enjoy'st eternal happiness.
Dundee.