1785
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

The Sorrows of Werter.

Public Advertiser (31 May 1785).

Anonymous


The story of Goethe's novel is cleverly done into three double-quatrain stanzas in the Pastoral Ballad mode, not signed. The lyric was "sung by Mrs. Kennedy, at Vauxhall." The Sorrows of Werther (1774) was extremely popular, attracting a number of periodical poems and doubtless, along with the true history of Thomas Chatterton, contributing to the fascination with suicide that was so prominent in this era.

In the same measure, see "The Sorrows of Charlotte at the Tomb of Werter," which had appeared in the Daily Universal Register for 12 April 1785, and "Gabriel appearing to Charlotte at the Tomb of Werter," printed in the Public Advertiser 25 March 1786. Compare also this Shenstone poem with an imitation of Gray: "Werter, an Elegy," published in the Morning Herald and Daily Advertiser (24 October1785).



When Werter fair Charlotte beheld,
As she danc'd with the nymphs on the green,
He thought ev'ry maid she excell'd,
And he prais'd the soft grace of her mien;
But all her accomplishments known,
Gentle Werter began to adore,
He sighs for a heart not her own,
And the joys of poor Werter are o'er.

Tho' vows the fair Charlotte engag'd,
As a friend gentle Werter was dear;
Her smiles oft his sorrows asswag'd,
While pity has dropt a soft tear;
Urg'd by love, he grew bold, and she cry'd,
Werter leave, and see me no more—
He sigh'd — he obey'd — and he dy'd,
Then the sorrows of Werter deplore.

Ye nymphs let not Cupid deceive,
Under pity's soft garb hide his dart,
Werter's sorrows are laid in the grave,
While pity still wrings Charlotte's heart;
And oft o'er his grave has she cry'd,
While with flow'rets she deck't it all o'er—
He saw me — he lov'd — and he dy'd,
Then the sorrows of Werter deplore.

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