1796
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Pastoral Elegy, on the Death of Mr. Robert Fergusson.

Columbian Herald or, the New Daily Advertiser (10 March 1796).

Gavin Turnbull


An elegy for the Scottish poet Robert Fergusson "by Mr. G. Turnbull, of the Church-street Theatre." The five double-quatrain stanzas are part of the series imitating John Cunningham's Elegy for William Shenstone. Turnbull would have acquired a taste for Fergusson from his early acquaintance with Robert Burns. The Edinburgh poet is imagined living in convivial company: "Mirth still at his banquet was found, | He delighted each guest with his lore; | Who, now pensive sit weeping around, | And lament that the bard is no more!" Turnbull seems to have offered his second volume of poems to the Charleston newspapers, for his verse had been appearing on a regular basis for several weeks.



Why hangs on yon willow the lyre,
Which erst by the muses was strung?
To which, what themselves did inspire,
Sweet notes were by Fergusson sung:
Why droops the blyth lark in her nest?
Ye lambkins, why bleat ye so sore?
Ye shepherds, why are ye distress'd?
Alas! the sweet bard is no more!

On Fortha's green banks, where the swain
First caroll'd his pastoral song,
The Naiades, dejected, complain
As they glide the sad vallies along.
The wind that howls over the heath
Bids the woods the disaster deplore;
And the grottoes, responsive beneath,
Repeat, "the sweet bard is no more!"

The genius of Scotia was glad,
Though her Ramsay was laid in the ground,
When she smil'd on the heav'n favour'd lad,
Who once more should her beauties resound:
Now, reclin'd o'er the rude rocky steep,
Where the billows, hoarse murmuring, roar,
Her tears falling fast to the deep,
She laments that the bard is no more!

Though wealth never dwells in his cot,
Though grandeur was never his care,
The little that fell to his lot,
With his friends he could willingly share.
Mirth still at his banquet was found,
He delighted each guest with his lore;
Who, now pensive sit weeping around,
And lament that the bard is no more!

Arise, his companions so true,
And wipe from your eyes the sad tear;
With garlands of death-loving yew
Adorn our young Fergusson's bier!
Behold! where he joins a bright throng,
The honey tongu'd poets of yore,
And his name shall remain in the song,
Though the Bard, the sweet Bard is no more.

[unpaginated]