1789
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

The Ruin.

Miscellaneous Poems by the Reverend Luke Booker, Minister of St. Edmund's, Dudley, Worcestershire.

Rev. Luke Booker


Thirteen quatrains, after Gray's Elegy written in a Country Churchyard. Luke Booker imagines the remains of ancient fortress becoming its own monument: "Departed Grandeur! — cou'd these stones assume | Historic pow'r to tell thy pristine fame, | The torch of Truth shou'd thy dark reign illume, | And bright Description kindle from the flame" p. 47. Since the stones remain stubbornly silent, the poet is compelled to point the moral. This poem is part of a busy sequence of ruin poems developed out of Thomas Gray's original, frequently illustrated by engravings of the gothic cast found here.

Booker appends a notable passage on ruins from Samuel Johnson's Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland (1775) concluding "That man is little to be envied, whose Patriotism would not gain force upon the Plain of Marathon, or whose Piety would not grow warmer among the Ruins of Iona" 46n.



TIME — AN AUTUMNAL EVENING.
Sunk is the Sun, and cool the passing gale,
Wither'd each charm which Nature gave to Spring;
The russet spoil lies scatter'd o'er the dale
Where Silence sits to hear the Red-breast sing.

Far other music boast these Time-worn Tow'rs;
The wind harsh whistles thro' their chinky walls,
Where Ivy creeps 'midst faded wild-born flow'rs,
And, echoing round, the Screech-Owl's note appalls.

Resounding hoarsely, from a neighb'ring wood
The falling Torrent foams its hasty way
O'er rugged stones, which break th' impetuous flood,—
But vainly strive its bellowing waves to stay.

Fal'n from its rocky eminence sublime,
Lies the huge Pile, which War's rude shock defied,
A formless mass, — the work of mighty Time,
The Monument and Monitor of Pride.

Where loathed Vermin, in their murky cells,
Pass, unmolested, their inglorious day;
Where, wrapt in sleep, the Bat securely dwells,
Or idly wings her ev'ning hour away.

Departed Grandeur! — cou'd these stones assume
Historic pow'r to tell thy pristine fame,
The torch of Truth shou'd thy dark reign illume,
And bright Description kindle from the flame.

Then each mute witness, hasting to decay,
Might tell what scenes were whilom here display'd:
What ancient Dames here sung t' heroic lay,
Mov'd in the dance, or nightly masquerade:

What titled Warriors grac'd the splendid Ball,
In all the pride of Chivalry and Show;
What Trophies hung within the sounding Hall,
The blood-stain'd Spoil of some illustrious Foe:

What am'rous vows, express'd in courtly guise,
The list'ning Fair to wretchedness have led;
What doughty Champion of gigantic size
Sent the Despoiler to the mighty Dead.

What rich Possessors fed the neighb'ring Poor;
What Tournaments they sought, and how they fell:
—These, with innum'rous tales and deeds of yore,
The moss-grown Reliques of the Pile might tell.

But, sadly silent, they keep mouldring on,
Shaken full oft by RUIN'S palsied hand;
And, when some fleeting seasons more are gone,
No wreck of Pride and Grandeur here shall stand.

Thus, worn with Age, must thou, O Man! become
A WALKING RUIN, on Life's shelving shore,
At last to perish in th' oblivious Tomb;
But summon'd thence, thou shalt decay no more.

Then, the stupendous Fabrick of the World,
The starry frame, the air, the earth, the sea,
Shall, to chaotic Ruin, all be hurl'd,
And wearied Time rest in Eternity.

[pp. 45-49]