Henry James Pye

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

Elegy IV


The solemn hand of sable-suited night
Enwraps the silent earth with mantle drear;
Thick gathering clouds obscure fair CYNTHIA's light;
Nor shines one star the dusky scene to chear.
O'er the sad mansion, hid in aweful gloom,
The Æthiop darkness spreads her ebon sway;
Save that alone from yonder studious room
The wasting taper sheds a trembling ray.
Now, while the tenants of this sacred dome
Turn the grave page, or sink to soft repose,
Along the Gothic cloisters let me roam,
And, deep in thought, the tedious moments lose.
Now breathes the whistling wind a mournful song,
And pattering drops the drizzly tempest tell;
While Echo stalks the gloomy vaults among,
Sadly-responsive to the midnight bell.
And hark!—the staring owl with boding strain
Shrieks notes of terror from the learned grove.
Ah horrid sounds! full well ye soothe my pain!
Full well your music greets despairing love!
No longer now around the social bowl
I join the festive laugh, or sprightly lay;
But pour in ceaseless sighs my lovesick soul,
Till fades the lamp at bright AURORA's ray.
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 lilly hangs its drooping head,
When frosts untimely blast the ripening year.
Philosophy, thou guardian of the heart,
O come in all thy rigid virtue dressed!
With manly precept ease my killing smart,
And drive this tyrant from my wounded breast.
Oft would my eyes, disdaining balmy sleep,
The aweful labors of thy sons explore,
Fathom with restless toil each maxim deep,
And hang incessant o'er the sacred lore:
Alas! opposed 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 asswage.
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 sealed 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 lies 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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