1816
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

On Kenilworth Castle.

Juvenile Poems.

Chandos Leigh


Two ottava rima stanzas with a Spenserian alexandrine that reflect on the faded grandeur of history: "Still let me contemplate thy wasting walls, | Thy topless columns whence the owlet screams. | Those grass-worn mounds were once baronial halls | Whose pristine worth surpasseth fancy's dreams." Chandos Leigh, who was in the habit of printing his poems for private distribution, left a tangled bibliography. While the title page of this volume reads "1815" it contains poems dated 1816 and a preface dated 1817. The volume seen may have been a later printing. It was reissued in 1817 with the title "Juvenile Poems and other Pieces." If this poem was indeed "juvenilia" it might have antedated Byron's use of the stanza. This seems unlikely.

Advertisement: "The following verses were written at a very early age, and on that account plead indulgence, from the partiality of friendship, towards the many inaccuracies which are contained in them. Those, who know not the Authr, as accidentally they might cast their eyes over these 'Trifles,' will remember that these verses are not published" p. i.

Chandos Leigh became a great partisan of the Spenserian stanza, writing more poems in that measure than perhaps any other poet save Bernard Barton.



Mouldering away in desolated pride
Thy glory past; thy majesty remains.
Though time has torn thy pillar'd porches wide
Where echo sleeps; and horrid silence reigns.
Thus onward all things to destruction glide,
Whatever pageantries this world contains—
Decaying not o'erthrown! thou still art seen
A monumental wreck, of what thou erst hast been.

Still let me contemplate thy wasting walls,
Thy topless columns whence the owlet screams.
Those grass-worn mounds were once baronial halls
Whose pristine worth surpasseth fancy's dreams.
There chivalry presided o'er the balls,
The sun of beauty there shed forth its beams.
Now all is loneliness — reflection, say:
How long the works of man outlive man's little day!

[pp. 61-62]