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TO THE GENIUS OF SHAKSPEARE.
O SOVEREIGN Master, who with lonely state
Dost rule, as in some isle's enchanted land;
On whom soft airs and shadowy spirits wait,
Whilst scenes of faerie bloom at thy command !
On thy wild shores forgetful could I lie,
And list, 'till earth dissolved, to thy sweet minstrelsy.
Call'd by thy magic from the hoary deep,
Aërial forms should in bright troops ascend; And then a wonderous mask before me sweep, Whilst sounds, “ that the earth own'd not,” seem lo
blend Their stealing melodies, that when the strain Ceased, “ I should weep, and would so dream again."
The song is ceased. Ah who, pale shade! art thou,
Sad-raving to the rude tempestuous night?
Sure thou hast had much wrong, so stern thy brow,
So piteous thou dost tear thy tresses white,
So wildly thou dost cry, “ Blow, bitter wind;
Ye elements, I call not you unkind.”
Beneath the shade of nodding branches gray,
'Mid rude romantic woods and glens forlorn, The merry hunters wear the hours away;
Rings the deep forest with the joyous horn!..
Joyous to all but him, who with sad look
Hangs, idly musing, by the brawling brook.
But mark the merry elves of fairy land !
To the high moon's gleamy glance
They with shadowy morrice dance ;
Soft music dies along the desert sand :
Soon at peep of cold-eyed day,
Soon the numerous lights decay;
Merrily, now merrily
After the dewy moon they fly.
The charm is wound : I see an aged form,
In white robes, on the winding sea-shore stand;
O'er the careering surge he waves his wand. Hark! on the bleak rock bursts the swelling storm! Now from bright opening clouds I hear a lay, “ Come to these yellow sands, fair stranger, come
Saw ye pass by the weird sisters pale?
Mark'd ye the lowering castle on the heath?
Hark! hark! is the deed done? the deed of death? The deed is done :--Hail, king of Scotland, hail !
I see no more ;--to many a fearful sound,
The bloody caldron sinks, and all is dark around.
Pity, touch the trembling strings !
A maid, a beauteous maniac, wildly sings.
“ They laid him in the ground so cold;
Upon his breast the earth is thrown;
High is heap'd the grassy mould,
Oh! he is dead and gone.
The winds of the winter blew o'er his cold breast,
But pleasant shall be his rest.”
O Sovereign Master, at whose sole command
We start with terror, or with pity weep; 0! where is now thy all-creating wand ?
Buried ten thousand fathoms in the deep. The staff is broke, the powerful spell is fled, And never earthly guest shall in thy circle tread.
If dying excellence deserves a tear,
If fond remembrance still is cherish'd here,
Can we persist to bid our sorrows flow
For fabled sufferers and delusive woe?
Or with quaint smiles dismiss the plaintive strain,
Point the quick jest, indulge the comic vein;
Ere yet to buried Roscius we assign
One kind regret, one tributary line ?
His fame requires we act a tenderer part:
His memory claims the tear, you gave his art !
The general voice, the meed of mournful verse,
The splendid sorrows, that adorn’d his hearse,
The throng, that mourn'd as their dead favourite pass'd,
The graced respect, that claim'd him to the last,
While Shakspeare's image, from its hallow'd base,
Seem'd to prescribe the grave, and point the place;
Nor these, nor all the sad regrets, that flow
From fond fidelity's domestic woe,
So much are Garrick's praise, so much his due,
As on this spot one tear bestow'd by you.
Amid the arts, which seek ingenuous fame,
Our toil attempts the most precarious claija!
To him, whose mimic pencil wins the prize,
Obedient fame immortal wreaths supplies :
Whate'er of wonder Reynolds now may raise,
Raphael still boasts contemporary praise ;
Each dazzling light and gaudier bloom subdued,
With undiminish'd awe his works are view'd:
E'en beauty's portrait wears a softer prime,
Touch'd by the tender hand of mellowing time.
The patient sculptor owns a humbler part,
A ruder toil, and more mechanic art:
Content with slow and timorous stroke to trace
The ling’ring line, and mould the tardy grace:
But once achieved, though barbarous wreck o'erthrow
The sacred fane, and lay its glories low,
Yet shall the sculptur'd ruin rise to day,
Graced by defect, and worshipp'd in decay;
The enduring record bears the artist's name,
Demands his honours, and asserts his fame.
Superior hopes the Poet's bosom fire :
O proud distinction of the sacred lyre!
Wide as the inspiring Phoebus darts his ray,
Diffusive splendour gilds liis votary's lay.
Whether the song heroic woes rehearse,
With epic grandeur, and the pomp of verse ;
Or, fondly gay, with unambitious guile
Attempt no prize, but favouring beauty's smile;
Or bear dejected to the lonely grove
The soft despair of unprevailing love;
Whate'er the theme, through every age and clime,
Congenial passions meet the according rhyme;
The pride of glory, pity's sigh sincere,
Youth's earliest blush, and beauty's yirgin tear.
Such is their meed; their honours thus secure;
Whose arts yield objects, and whose works endure.
The actor only shrinks from time's award ;
Feeble tradition is his memory's guard;
By whose faint breath his merits must abide,
Unvouch'd by proof, to substance unallied !