1806
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Dirge.

The Morning Chronicle (27 August 1806).

Leigh Hunt


Eight octosyllabic couplets in the manner of William Collins's "How Sleep the Brave"; the poem is signed "Leigh Hunt." There is no memory here of the political context of the original poem: "A little sod, a few sad flow'rs, | A tear for long departed hours, | Is all that feeling hearts request | To hush their weary thoughts to rest." Leigh Hunt's contributions to the Morning Chronicle were becoming less common by this point; it was not the common thing to sign one's name to newspaper verses.

Leigh Hunt: "For some time after I left school, I did nothing but visit my schoolfellows, haunt the bookstalls, and write verses. My father collected my verses, and published them with a large list of subscribers, numbers of whom belonged to his old congregations. I was as proud perhaps of the book at that time, as I am ashamed of it now. The French Revolution had not then, as afterwards, by a natural consequence, shaken up and refreshed the sources of thought all over Europe. At least, I was not old enough, perhaps was not able, to get out of the trammels of the regular imitative poetry and versification taught in the schools. My book was a heap of imitations, some of them clever enough for a youth of sixteen, but absolutely worthless in every other respect. However, the critics were very kind; and as it was unusual at that time to publish at so early a period of life, my age made me a kind of 'Young Roscius' in authorship" in Lord Byron and Some of his Contemporaries (1828) 80-81.



Blest is the turf, serenely blest,
Where throbbing hearts may sink to rest,
Where life's long journey turns to sleep,
Nor ever pilgrim wakes to weep.
A little sod, a few sad flow'rs,
A tear for long departed hours,
Is all that feeling hearts request
To hush their weary thoughts to rest.
There shall no vain Ambition come
To lure them from their quiet home;
Nor Sorrow lift with heartstrings riven
The meek imploring tear to Heaven;
Nor sad Remembrance stoop to shed
His wrinkles on the slumb'rer's head;
And never, never Love repair
To breathe his idle whispers there!

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