1808
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Julia's Tomb.

The Comic Works in Prose and Poetry of G. M. Woodward, author of Eccentric Excursions in England, The Caricature Magazine, &c.

George Murgatroyd Woodward


A pastoral elegy in twelve quatrains in the manner of Gray. The poem sketches the character of a village maiden who died young: "Oft' have I seen her, when a sparrow fell, | Weep o'er the bird full many a crystal tear; | Then in soft strains its fate to Stella tell, | Or deck with flowers the little funeral bier" p. 54. G. W. Woodward, who mentions William Shenstone and Thomas Gray as the elegiac poets he wishes to emulate, rings some interesting lyric changes on the graveyard elegy, for example, evoking the "friendly epitaph" at the beginning of the poem and positioning the speaker of the poem as its addressee at the conclusion.

Anti-Jacobin Review: "Mrs. Woodward's Muse has every characteristic not only of good humour, but of good sense. Her effusions are artless, simple, and chaste. She seldom fails to please, and never offends. The prose articles are lively and amusing. The Usurer's Diary and the Man of Fashion's Journal are highly humorous" 29 (April 1808) 409.



Slow through the church-yard's mazy paths I stray,
There seek the yew-tree's melancholy gloom,
Where spirits beckoning seem to point the way,
The lonely walk that leads to JULIA'S TOMB.

And lo! the friendly epitaph display'd,
Adorns the bosom of the sculptor's urn,
Telling the shepherd and the rural maid,
What Julia was — who never shall return.

Forgive the bard, although the effort's vain,
Who dares to raise the sympathetic lay,
Tho' lost with Shenstone is the elegiac strain,
And loose, unstrung, reclines the lyre of Gray.

Yet, when fair Virtue animates the line,
Say, shall the Muse withhold her wonted fire?
When cherubs drooping o'er the urn recline,
Shall she unwilling stroke the golden lyre?

Here rests a maid, who erst the village charm'd,
From whose remains the virgin lily springs,
Emblem of her, who Envy's power disarm'd,
While round her turf the tender Robin sings.

Chaunt your sweet vespers thro' the ambient air,
Ye wild companions of the tufted grove,
Sing how your Julia once was heavenly fair,
Form'd of compassion, tenderness, and love.

Oft' have I seen her, when a sparrow fell,
Weep o'er the bird full many a crystal tear;
Then in soft strains its fate to Stella tell,
Or deck with flowers the little funeral bier.

And shall no fostering hand one chaplet weave,
To deck, sweet maid, thy peaceful marble shrine?
From Edwin's hand this cypress wreath receive,
This, round thy tomb, thy Edwin shall entwine.

Yet what avails the Muse's plaintive song?
Can she to life these lov'd remains restore?
These mould'ring relics, to the earth belong,
The young, the lovely Julia is no more!

Her placid eye, bright as the orient day,
Too finely wrought for such a world as this,
Was clos'd by Saints who bore her far away,
Serenely gliding through the realms of bliss.

By Fancy form'd, I view her from above,
Bending from clouds, her lover to implore,
Breathing rich fragrance of seraphic love,
And soft pronouncing, "Edwin, sigh no more."

"Look o'er Religion's wide extended page,
Where Faith, triumphant, shews th' up-lifted cross;
Let hope of future bliss thy grief assuage,
Think Julia lives, nor more deplore thy loss."

[pp. 53-55]