1799
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

A Dirge.

Edinburgh Magazine or Literary Miscellany NS 14 (December 1799) 453-55.

David Carey


A pastoral elegy in 34 elegiac quatrains, signed "D. C., Arbroath." In this sober and elegant elegy the poet conjoins two poetic modes, both in quatrains: in metrics, the elegy in the manner of Gray, and in imagery, the pastoral ballad in the manner of Shenstone: "But ah! for me no fields shall ever smile, | Tho' spring enamel every valley free; | Tho' Autumn give the dear reward of toil; | The winter's gloom alone accords with me." At this time David Carey would have been employed in his father's counting-house at Arbroath, where he was acqauinted with Alexander Balfour, a regular contributor to the Edinburgh Magazine.



Oh! come, ye shepherds, while the note severe
Of yonder death-bell tears the peaceful grove,
Let us surround the lov'd Lucinda's bier,
And pay the debt of friendship and love.

Nor let the proud with high-wrought wrath disdain
The sad oblation breathing in the gale,
But o'er the heart, with sadly pleasing pain,
Let sacred Heav'n-born sympathy prevail.

Oh! bless'd be he who feels another's woe,
Whose tears at friendship's calls are freely given;
Who, train'd himself in sorrow's ways below,
Bids mis'ry raise her wandering thoughts to Heav'n.

Blest Guardian Angels, watch around his head,
Who heaves Lucinda one sad sigh for thee;
Who bids the pious starting tear be shed
At the inexorable, stern, decree.

And sleep'st thou, dearest maid! to wake no more?
To wake no more though nations wide should sigh!
Fled are those smiles that, blissful, charm'd before,
And quench'd the living lustre of thine eye.

And shall I never more thy form behold,
Each transport swallow'd in confused amaze?
Alas no more! beneath the hallow'd mould
Thou shun'st my penetrating, eager gaze.

Then lightly lie the green sod on thy breast,
Nor howl the blast, surcharged with fury near;
Sound be thy slumber, soft thy bed of rest,
And first born flowerets breathe their fragrance here.

What blushing glories paint the happy grove
When spring, with early songs of tender care,
Wakes the blest swarm to artless tasks of love,
And opes the soft all-beauteous flow'ry year!

But ah, how transient is the flushy reign!
Quick as the lightning's short liv'd blaze it flies!
And fleeting, wandering, as the dream serene
That sports before the wretch's streaming eyes!

But yesterday, in fading pomp array'd,
Saw pleasure lead the jocund hours around,
Heard melody beneath th' auspicious shade;
Exalt her self-taught, pure, celestial song.

The evening came, sad evening wrapt in death!
And broad display'd the dark ensign of woe;
Heard deep despair her killing accents breathe,
And saw these widely streaming tears that flow—

Tears that shall ever bathe, in dewy flood,
The breast bewilder'd in severest grief;
And bleed the heart, though vain each drop of blood,
Since nature gives no hope of sweet relief!

Soft rolls thy plaint, dear silver winding stream!
And soft thy waters murmur by her grave,
While sweetly in the inconstant, lunar beam,
The myrtles float that hide thy flowing wave!

Soft stream! within whose wave of dusky blue,
Regardless of the hour, a child I play'd;
Along whose banks, as evening shadows grew,
I wander'd oft with the departed maid:

Where now I pour the plaintive song of grief,
Where now I wander with prophetic dread;
The breeze, scarce stirring the umbrageous leaf,
Playing sadly querulous around my head.

Still softly blow, thou ever-fanning gale!
And bear the deep-drawn sigh to yonder shore,
And with the voice of vernal Zephyr, tell
The gay, the dear Lucinda is no more!

For oft thy breath has swept with wild excess
The cheek with pure vermilion lightly spread,
And as you wanton'd in each auburn tress,
Receiv'd a tenfold fragrance as you fled.

But ah! sweet gale, thy whisper mild and clear,
Profuse of balm, no more the vale revives,
It wakes it but to misery severe,
Since oh! no more the queen of beauty lives.

Or lives in bright idea but to pour
Resistless o'er the heart affliction's stream;
To tell my deeply wounded soul, no more
The grateful thrilling ray of health shall beam.

And thou, my lute! that, to the Zephyr's sigh
Calmly responsive, oft her name would raise,
Thus let me throw thee mute neglected by,
For thou shalt never found another's praise.

The tender whisper of the votive lay
Shall never labour in thy liquid note;
Nor the light air that chac'd pale Care away,
And o'er the sylvan scene bade pleasure float.

Thy melting plaint alone, my flock! shall please,
Shall sadly social calm my lab'ring breast,
But ah, it cannot, ne'er shall whisper peace,
For O! no voice calls back the Heav'nly guest!

Feed on, my flock! nor heed thy master's woe,
The valley yet a fairer green shall wear;
Feed on, my sheep! no heed these tears that flow,
The spring shall yet awake the impurpled year.

But ah! for me no fields shall ever smile,
Tho' spring enamel every valley free;
Tho' Autumn give the dear reward of toil;
The winter's gloom alone accords with me.

Oh, gentle spirit! whither dost thou fly?
To what far region speeds thy airy flight!
Assist me Heav'n, I'll climb the vaulted sky!
And hail with thee th' eternal realms of light!

But still I linger, where th' unfriendly chains
Of earth belov'd mortality enslave:
For silent is the way to yonder plains,
And dark and deep the windings of the grave.

Just Heavens, to whom my heart has fondly glow'd,
Has eager sprung, impatient to be free!
Say why Adversity, with blasting rod,
Pursues his steps that fondly hop'd in thee?

Is the mild flower of beauty, hapless fair!
Born but to perish when the storm shall low'r?
Or fraught with vengeance, whizzing in the air,
Bursts the dread thunder but to show thy pow'r?

But whence that strain, malignant breathing round,
That warbles careless from the forest drear?
Hail, charming bird! that break'st the gloom profound
Chanting the song of sorrow in my ear.

Sweet nightly murmur! still thy woes rehearse,
Still bid thy plaint along the valleys roll;
It mildly flows in friendship with my verse,
It suits the melancholy of my soul.

Oh! here, dear warbler, fix thy blest abode,
Together let our mournful notes complain;
We'll raise the solemn echo of the wood,
And B—s gentle stream shall aid the strain.

'Twas the last accents trembled from her tongue:
"When from these happy, peaceful vales, I flee,
Lay me where yonder river rolls along,
And there, my faithful Thyrsis! mourn for me!"

Oh hear, Lucinda! hear thy Thyrsis vow:
By the green turf that blossoms round thy head,
By this pale willow waving on my brow,
I'll ne'er forsake this mansion of the dead!

The beauteous rose that captivates the eye,
The cheerful nymph, or lightsome pipe of glee,
Shall never, never wake my heart to joy:
The wanton seasons ne'er shall laugh at me.

[pp. 453-55]