1825 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Thomas Chatterton

M., "Fragment found in the Room in which Chatterton died" Dublin and London Magazine 1 (September 1825) 300.



— Arm'd for death, I wait the coming hour;
Sure God approves, or He'd deny the power;
For life unasked He gave me ere I knew
'Twas boon or curse, or aught which might ensue;
No choice was left, did not his justice give
The means of death, when I dislike to live;
Yet, ere on death's dark dreary path I go,
And quit a world which gave me nought but woe,
I must indulge a few regrets, that still,
Like human duties, act against the will
They would persuade — that yet protracted days
Might find reward in fortune and in praise—
That youth's first dreams (alas! how grand and frail)
Might be fulfilled, and better hopes prevail.
So when the raft on angry waves is tossed,
And hope and life appear together lost,
Some master mind still grasps the useless oar,
And cheers his messmates with the hopes of shore;
But hopes are vain, new storms around them sweep
Till wretched life finds refuge in the deep.
Live me! ah, no! my youthful hopes are dead—
My prospects fade, and every joy is fled.
Relief I've sought — unless withheld by shame;
Yet three days hunger still oppress my frame.

Conscious of merit, my unsuspecting mind
Thought in each name I should a patron find;
To show my worth I fancied would obtain
Applause from wits, and from the wealthy gain;
But Greatness heard not though I various sung,
And jealous Learning whisper'd "He is young;"
Nay, some defamed me — though I did no more
Than Walpole's self and others did before;
I wronged no merit and aspersed no name,
My crime was but defrauding self of fame;
But, worthless wits, I know indeed too late
How small your praises, but how large your hate!
Ignoble foes, I scorn, but envy not,
For Chatterton shall live, when you're forgot!