1826 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Henry Kirke White

Richard Ryan, in Poetry and Poets: being a Collection of the choicest Anecdotes relative to the Poets of every Age and Nation (1826) 3:290-91.



Henry Kirke White is a name that will be imperishable in the records of precocious talent. Pious, amiable, and learned, yet struggling against numerous evils which his limited means could not fail to entail on him, his fate awakens our regret, while the variety and the solidity of his acquirements excites exhaustless admiration for his genius, and the profoundest respect for his unwearied application and moral virtues.

His effusions breathe the pure spirit of Poetry. Many of his Poems are sacred, and eminently distinguished by fervent piety. He contemplated, and indeed, commenced, a long Divine Poem, entitled The Christiad, in the Spenserian stanza; and, from the specimen before us, we regret he did not live to conclude what he so well begun.

If we may judge from the few productions which he left behind him, his genius was of the highest order, and he promised to be one of the brightest ornaments of British literature. The following short Poem possesses great beauty and simplicity.

It is not that my lot is low,
That bids the silent tear to flow;
It is not this that makes me moan,—
It is that I am all alone.

In woods and glens I love to roam
When the tired hedger hies him home;
Or by the woodland pool to rest,
When pale the star looks on its breast.

Yet, when the silent ev'ning sighs,
With hallowed airs and symphonies,
My spirit takes another tone,
And sighs that it is all alone.

The autumn leaf is sear and dead:
It floats upon the water's bed.
I would not be a leaf to die
Without recording sorrow's sigh.

The woods and winds, with sullen wail,
Tell all the same unwearied tale.
I've none to smile when I am free,
And, when I sigh, to sigh with me.

Yet, in my dreams, a form I view,
That thinks on me, and loves me, too;
I start, and when the vision's flown,
I weep that I am all alone.