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Henry James Pye

(20 February 1745 – 11 August 1813 / London, England)

Elegy III


The dewy morn her saffron mantle spreads
High o'er the brow of yonder eastern hill;
Each blooming shrub a roseate fragrance sheds,
And the brisk sky-lark sings his carol shrill.
Not all the sweets that scent the morning air,
Not all the dyes that paint the vernal year,
Can from my breast divert it's weighty care,
Can from my pale cheeks charm the trickling tear.
Here, where the willows to the rivulet bend,
That winds it's channel thro' the enamell'd mead,
I'll o'er the turf my waining form extend,
And rest on sedges dank my listless head.
In vain the stream o'er pebbles glide along,
And murmurs sweetly-lulling as it flows;
In vain the stock-dove chaunts her gurgling song,
Inviting slumber soft and calm repose.
How at the fragrant hour of rising morn
Would eager transport throb in ev'ry vein,
To hear the swelling shout and jocund horn
Invite the hunter to the sportive plain!
But, ah, the gay delights of youth are fled!—
In sighs and tears my fading life I wear;
So the pale lily hangs it's drooping head,
When frosts untimely blast the opening year.
Philosophy, thou guardian of the heart,
O come in all thy rigid virtue dress'd!
With manly precept ease my killing smart,
And drive this tyrant from my wounded breast.
Oft would my eyes, disdaining balmy sleep,
The awful labors of thy sons explore,
Fathom with restless toil each maxim deep,
And hang incessant o'er the sacred lore:
Alas! oppos'd to love how weak, how frail
Is all the reasoning of the unfeeling sage!
No forceful arm can o'er his power prevail,
No lenient hand the wounds he gives assuage.
Yes, tyrant, yes; thou must retain thy power,
Till my torn bosom yields to stronger Death:
Still must I love, even in that fatal hour,
And call on Delia with my latest breath.
And when all pale my lifeless limbs extend,
And fate has seal'd the irrevocable doom,
May then my memory find a faithful friend,
To write these votive numbers on my tomb:
‘Here rests a youth, who Love and Sorrow's slave,
‘Gave up his early life to pining care,
‘Till worn with woe he sought, in this calm grave,
‘A safe retreat from comfortless Despair.’
So, when the stone lays o'er my clay-cold head,
If chance fair Delia to the place draw near,
With one sad sigh she may lament me dead,
And bathe the senseless marble with a tear.

Submitted: Monday, September 27, 2010

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