Henry James Pye

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

Elegy IX


From the clear stream that o'er her grotto flows
The silver-slipper'd Avon slowly rose,
And pensive on her crystal urn reclin'd,
Pour'd forth in notes like these her anxious mind.

‘What frantic train is this whose noise invades
‘The accustom'd stilness of my tranquil shades,
‘Whose swelling clamors float my banks along,
‘And drown the sweetness of each rural song,
‘Fill all the woods around with festal roar,
‘And fright the peaceful halcyons from my shore?—

‘And see!—from Italy's degenerate clime
‘The mottled hero fam'd in Pantomime,
‘Leads his exulting crew with impious tread
‘To soil the dust that pillows Shakespear's head:
‘With midnight sounds they break his sacred sleep,
‘And near his tomb opprobrious vigils keep.
‘Resounding axes give the solar beam
‘To scorch the borders of my lucid stream,
‘And, while around the weeping Dryads bleed,
‘The sons of riot praise the fatal deed:—
‘Them it becomes to praise: but 'midst the throng
‘What honor'd voice is that which joins the song?
‘Canst thou whose powers could give this wondering age
‘To see the soul of Shakespear grace the stage,
‘Canst thou misjudging, praise each cruel blow
‘That lays the shade by Avon's current low,
‘Canst thou approve those trees untimely doom
‘That wave their foliage o'er thy Shakespear's tomb,
‘Or view the motley sons of Masquerade
‘Insult thy patron's venerable shade?
‘But hark! loud riot swells on every side,
‘And orgies dire pollute my virgin tide;
‘Ah! let my ear the unhallow'd revels fly,
‘Nor drink the sounds of midnight ribaldry.’
She said, and plunging in the silver wave,
Sought the calm refuge of her silent cave.

Submitted: Monday, September 27, 2010

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