1755
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

St. Mungo's in Glasgow.

Scots Magazine 17 (April 1755) 195.

Anonymous


A descriptive ode in fourteen ababcc stanzas, addressed "Glasgow, from the Grove." The poet wanders to St. Mungo's, "ancient pile," where he encounters a spectral figure and a Christian moral. This elegiac poem, in the full-dress gothic manner, is variously indebted to Milton's Il Penseroso, Parnell's Night Piece on Death, and Gray's Elegy written in a Country Churchyard: "What's this? a creeping horror thrills | Through ev'ry vein, o'er ev'ry limb: | My mind a fear unwonted fills, | And phantoms seem across to skim: | In vain my resolution all, | In vain philosophy I call."



Hence the light dance, the comic page,
The social laugh, the idle song,
Your charms can only fools engage,
And me you have engag'd too long;
Away ye pains, disguis'd like joys,
Deluding, empty idle toys.

Thou musing, sable-mantled dame,
O point me out some lonely glade,
Where the loud roar of mirth ne'er came,
Nor Comus e'er his revels made,
Some lone recess, and all thy own,
Divinest Contemplation.

I see, I see the sacred place,
The mountain crown'd with nodding pines,
On whose green tops, with quiv'ring rays,
The pale-fac'd moon serenely shines:
I hear the water tumbling down,
O'er the old rock, and wave-worn stone.

Ha! with what awe that antique pile
Bears full upon my aching sight:
The cloud capt spire for many a mile
Directs the lonely wand'rer right;
Who, nighted, journeys sad along,
Or strives to chear him with a song.

The swelling column clad with moss,
The specious window's Gothic sweep,
The roof, which half in air I lose,
And, straining, half in view can keep,
With mingled passions fill my breast,
By terror and delight possest.

But Melancholy wafts me on,
Slowly I pass o'er many a grave,
Whose dust's once name, the chissel'd stone,
(Poor monument!) a while doth save:
But soon the letters will decay,
The stone itself soon wear away.

The bat flits by on leathern wings,
His dismal vespers screams the owl,
The shard-born beetle drowsy sings,
And village-dogs at distance howl:
The bell beats one — rous'd by the sound
Unnumber'd ravens croak around.

What's this? a creeping horror thrills
Through ev'ry vein, o'er ev'ry limb:
My mind a fear unwonted fills,
And phantoms seem across to skim:
In vain my resolution all,
In vain philosophy I call.

What hideous frantic form art thou,
With sunken eye and tear-mark'd cheek?
'Tis Grief — I feel her influence now,
These heaving sighs her presence speak:
She paints to view a female shade;
Valesia! — dear, ill-fated maid!

And could not then thy form divine
A longer date of life obtain?
Why wast thou form'd so bright to shine,
And, yet alas! to shine in vain!
O my lost love! — She fades away,
Though gushing tears implore her stay.

Ye heavens! cruel and unjust,
How could ye strike so good a heart,
Crumble perfection into dust,
And such a soul and body part?
How could ye bid us virtue love,
And her chief seat so soon remove?

But, hush! I hear a voice begin,
Softer than summer's ev'ning-breeze:
Cease, thou fond youth, cease thus to sin,
Nor dare arraign high heav'n's decrees;
For know they all are good and wise,
Though hid from mortals darken'd eyes.

In the fair nymph you mourn, you saw
The pow'r omnipotent display'd,
Display'd to teach your minds that awe,
You owe the being all things made;
Then loos'd from earth she upward flew,
To endless pleasures ever new.

Then impious say not Heav'n's unjust,
And all in vain Velusia born;
Nor need'st thou grieve that she is lost,
For ever lost to thee forlorn!
She is not lost, but gone before—
Then be resign'd, — and adore.

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