1762
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Verses written at Dunwich, in Suffolk.

Royal Magazine or Gentleman's Monthy Companion 7 (July 1762) 42-43.

Henry Dell


Eight quatrains signed "Henry Dell" after Gray's Elegy written in a Country Churchyard. Dunwich, a metropolis in medieval times, was a coastal town that over the centuries had been washed away by the North Sea, as Dell notes in an allusion to Shakespeare: "All sublunary things thus pass away, | Old ocean's self, shall thus a period find; | The cloud-capt tow'rs, the pompous domes decay, | All, all dissolve, nor leave a wreck behind." Henry Dell was a London bookseller and author of a poem called The Booksellers (1766).

Author's note: "Dunwich is a place of great antiquity, was formerly a sea-port town, and the chief in Suffolk; graced with many magnificent buildings, well peopled, opulent, and of good renown. This once flourishing place is now, by the irresistible fury of the devouring sea, almost overflowed, and lost; a forest of twelve miles extent is entirely washed away, and of seven churches only one is left, with about twenty houses, and the ruinous remains of several abbeys, chapels, &c. whose solemn appearance gave birth to the above poem. — For further particulars, see Gardiner's History of Dunwich" 42n.



Ye venerable walls, with ivy crown'd,
The sad remains of ancient Gothic state,
Whose scatter'd honours strew the hallow'd ground;
The spoils of time and unrelenting fate.

Thy pomp, thy pow'r, O Dunwich, now's no more;
Lost is thy splendor, sunk in endless night,
Fair trade and commerce have forsook thy shore,
And all thy pristine glory's vanish'd quite.

Thy pleasant hills, thy vales, thy rich domains,
The sea's devouring surge hath wash'd away;
Disclos'd the graves, and gave their last remains
To the remorseless waves, the fated prey.

Ah! what avails that once those sacred dead,
Supreme in arts, and arms, or glory shone?
Alas how vain! — each high distinction's fled,
And all their blooming honours now are gone.

All sublunary things thus pass away,
Old ocean's self, shall thus a period find;
The cloud-capt tow'rs, the pompous domes decay,
All, all dissolve, nor leave a wreck behind.

Here oft the muse with rapture loves to stray,
And o'er these ruins, far from noise and folly,
Thro' solitary glooms, she takes her way;
In pensive mood, indulging melancholy.

Beneath these moss-grown stones, the waste of years,
Lies many a heart, now moulder'd into dust,
Whose kindred spirits grace the angelic spheres;
Completely blest, and perfect with the just.

Like me, they flourish'd once in youthful bloom,
Now cold and silent in the peaceful urn;
Like them, I soon must pass death's chearless gloom,
And earth to earth, and dust to dust return.

[pp. 42-43]