1798
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

An Elegy written on the Death of a Friend.

Aberdeen Magazine or Universal Repository 3 (December 1798) 612-13.

David Carey


A pastoral elegy in eighteen quatrains signed "D. C—, Arbroath." In this juvenile poem David Carey mixes heterogeneous pastoral modes with a degree of violence: one hears (possible) echoes of Spenser and Milton, and certainly echoes of pastoral ballad, Gray, and Ossian: "Darks seems the grove, where oft he usual trod; | In blacken'd majesty the day now rides | Hid is the sun behind yon envious cloud; | The winds to maniac tumult sweep the tides."

Carey was an untutored bard who made his first appearance in the Aberdeen Magazine in this closing number of its final volume. His poem was likely submitted by his friend Alexander Balfour, a mainstay of the poetry column of the Aberdeen Magazine. Carey would later remove to Edinburgh where he worked for Archibald Constable, the editor of the Edinburgh Magazine, before eventually emigrating to London to pursue a career as a man of letters. He is the author of the Pleasures of Nature, a long poem in Spenserian stanzas.



Once were these plains drest in the pride of May,
Once were these vales blest with a comely youth,
Whose smile was cheering as the genial ray,
Whose face beam'd radiance and celestial truth.

For him, we, sighing, here now pour the wail,
For him yon cavern'd cliffs in concert mourn;
Since, like the minutes, or the flying gale,
Gone is Leander, never to return.

Thine is the conquest, Oh relentless Fate!
Thine 'twas, Leander, to receive the spear;
Ours is to mourn it now, in strains replete
With tearing sorrow, horror to the ear.

Darks seems the grove, where oft he usual trod;
In blacken'd majesty the day now rides;
Hid is the sun behind yon envious cloud;
The winds to maniac tumult sweep the tides.

Again lamentful strike the unbrac'd lyre,
Again the woodlands shall return the sound,
Till ev'ry heart, and ev'ry soul, expire
In the sad extasy of pain profound.

Though, like the winds that now terrific blow,
Though, like the lion on wild Afric's plains,
O'er rising hills he chac'd the bounding roe,
Through dreary deserts led the wolfe in chains;

Yet he in swiftness could not outwit Death,
Nor his brave heart inspire with fear the Grave;
But, like a tree upon the blasted heath,
Declining gently, sank Fate's willing slave.

With thee, Leander, died fair Pleasure's train,
That skipt these vales, till now unknown to Care;
In thee is lost the glory of the plain,
The boast of Virtue, and her friend sincere.

Perhaps the dawning of some Morning's glow
Shall bid the heart some thoughts of comfort wear,
Perhaps the voice of Summer yet may show
Grief is a friend to Virtue, though severe.

Ah no! The heart, when baffled in its view,
To Hope, its last resource, nat'rally flies,
And fondly wishes, whilst she thinks it true,
The Morn will give whate'er the Day denies.

The Morn shall rise from out yon azure deep,
And Summer's voice along the valleys roll;
But where's the Morn that ends Leander's sleep?
Ah! where's the Summer's voice can wake his soul?

When done the labours of the sultry day,
Reclin'd in state, fast by yon old alcove,
No more shall Age behold Leander stray,
The gayest swain that through the dances move.

No more for him the heart-enchanting rose
Blossoms effulgent in the flow'ry vale;
No more the shade his charming pow'r avows
In echoes sweeter than the spicy gale.

No more to you, ye blushing Sons of Want,
Will young Leander stretch his lenient hand;
No more shall Mis'ry flee this peaceful haunt,
To spread her pinions o'er some other land.

Here, Oh ye winds! in pity blow less chill,
For here, beneath this sod, Leander lies;
Here bring, ye swains! your flow'ry incense still,
And sweep his grave with cypress and with sighs.

Here oft the children, now without a friend,
When in the pow'rs of man, if e'er they share,
Shall weeping say, while o'er his grave they bend,
"Here lies the man who snatch'd us from Despair."

Here, Oh ye shepherds! whose untainted tongue
Ne'er the true feelings of the heart bely'd;
Here, ye who sweetly o'er the pow'rs of song
Around these vales in charming state preside;

Sad, as the echo of yon lonely tow'rs,
Let the dire strains in melting accents flow;
Oh rouse to rapture the Pierian pow'rs,
And tear the soul with luxury of woe!

[pp. 612-13]