1786
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Elegy to the Memory of Werter.

The Poetical Works of the late Mrs. Mary Robinson: including many Pieces never before published. In Three Volumes.

Mary Robinson


Five irregular stanzas (all but the first irregular Spenserians) "Written in Germany, in the year 1786." In this early poem Mary Robinson imagines Charlotte weeping over the tomb of her dead lover: "Yes, hopeless suff'rer, friendless and forlorn, | Sweet victim of love's pow'r! the silent tear | Shall oft at twilight's close and glimm'ring morn | Gem the pale primrose that adorns thy bier." The poet, separated from a husband she disliked and abandoned by a royal lover to make her way in the world, might well identify herself with Goethe's sentimental heroine. Robinson's posthumous Poetical Works attracted very little attention when published in 1806.



When from day's closing eye the lucid tears
Fall lightly on the bending lily's head;
When o'er the blushing sky night's curtains spread,
And the tall mountain's summit scarce appears;
When languid evening, sinking to repose,
Her filmy mantle o'er the landscape throws;
Of THEE I'll sing; and as the mournful song
Glides in slow numbers the dark woods among,
My wand'ring steps shall seek the lonely shade
Where all thy virtues, all thy griefs are laid!

Yes, hopeless suff'rer, friendless and forlorn,
Sweet victim of love's pow'r! the silent tear
Shall oft at twilight's close and glimm'ring morn
Gem the pale primrose that adorns thy bier;
And as the balmy dew ascends to heaven,
Thy crime shall steal away, thy frailty be forgiv'n.

Oft by the moon's wan beam the love-lorn maid,
Led by soft SYMPATHY, shall stroll along;
Oft shall she listen in the Lime-tree's shade,
Her cold blood freezing at the night-owl's song;
Or, when she hears the death-bell's solemn sound,
Her light steps echoing o'er the hollow ground,
Oft shall the trickling tear adorn her cheek,
Thy pow'r, O SENSIBILITY! in magic charms to speak!

For the poor PILGRIM, doom'd afar to roam
From the dear comforts of his native home,
A glitt'ring star puts forth a silv'ry ray,
Soothes his sad heart, and marks his tedious way;
The short-liv'd radiance cheers the gloom of night,
And decks Heav'n's murky dome with transitory light.

So from the mournful CHARLOTTE'S dark-orb'd lids
The sainted tear of pitying VIRTUE flows;
And, the last boon the "churlish priest" forbids,
On thy lone grave the sacred drop bestows;
There shall the sparkling dews of evening shine,
AND HEAV'N'S OWN INCENSE CONSECRATE THE SHRINE.

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