Farewell, wild Harp!

Literary Gazette, and Journal of the Belles Lettres (7 October 1820) 652.

Henry Neele

Henry Neele concludes the second edition of his Odes (1821) with these three Spenserian stanzas, which originally appeared in the Literary Gazette, signed "Henry Neele, Sept. 27, 1820." While Neele suggests that this will be a "last" farewell, his verse continued to appear in the annuals and his poems were republished in 1827 with a second volume added. Neele imitates Walter Scott's Spenserians addressed to the "Harp of the North" in Lady of the Lake (1810).

William Jerdan, the editor of the Literary Gazette, describes the success of the periodical: "the Gazette climbed quickly to such a degree of authority and influence in the literary world, and generally with the public, that it would be very difficult to form an idea of it now, when great changes have been wrought on periodical and serial literature. Abroad, it was all sunshine and flourishing; and at home all gratulation and harmony. My co-proprietors were reaping a golden harvest from my exertions, and the powerful house of Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, Brown, and Green threw in its help cordially to promote the common interest" William Jerdan, Autobiography (1852-53) 4:16-17.

Epes Sargent: "Henry Neele (1798-1828) ... was a native of London, who published two volumes of poems, and wrote The Romance of English History. Just after his thirtieth birthday he committed suicide in a fit of despondency" Harper's Cyclopaedia of British and American Poetry (1882) 533.

Farewell, wild Harp! whose slumbering melody
With venturous touch I have essayed to wake;
Harp, which high bards to notes of ecstasy
Have struck, till Heaven's blue archway seem'd to shake:
And some a softer tone have bid thee take,
While numbers passing sweet, yet wild and lorn
As their own fate, they pour'd from hearts that brake.
So the bird leans her bosom on the thorn,
And warbles sweetliest then, when most her breast is torn.

And not in vain, oh! not in vain the lay,
Tho' Fame should ne'er upon her votary glance;
Tho' he go down to darkness and decay,
Unwept, unhonour'd, 'mid the world's mad dance,
Where wealth, pomp, pleasure, mightier claims advance;
Yet it may loose him from care's subtle ties,
And soothe his soul; like incense, which perchance
Will not majestically mount the skies,
Yet scents the altar still whence first it strove to rise.

Farewell! there's misery in the word, yet how,
With eager ear upon the sound we dwell;
Farewell! it dims the eye, and clouds the brow,
Yet the heart breaks, unless we say "Farewell!"
And oh! my harp, unbidden notes will swell,
Saddening my song, as o'er thy strings I cast
A trembling hand; and broken accents tell
My heart is throbbing as I say, "'Tis past,"
And breathe to thee a long farewell, perchance a last.

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