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ELEGY.

OCCASIONED BY THE DEATH OF A LADY.

1 STILL shall unthinking Man substantial deem
2 The forms that fleet thro' life's deceitful dream!
3 On clouds, where Fancy's beam amusive plays,
4 Shall heedless Hope his towering fabric raise!
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5 Till at Death's touch th' ideal glories fly,
6 And real scenes rush dismal on the eye;
7 And, from the bowers of Beauty torn,
8 The startled soul awakes to think and mourn.
9 O Ye, whose hours in jocund train advance,
10 Whose spirits to the song of gladness dance;
11 Who flowery scenes in endless view survey,
12 Glittering in beams of visionary day!
13 O! yet while Fate delays th' impending woe,
14 Be rous'd to thought, anticipate the blow;
15 Lest, like the light'ning's glance, the sudden ill
16 Flash to confound, and penetrate to kill:
17 Lest, thus encompass'd with funereal gloom,
18 Like me ye bend o'er some untimely tomb,
19 Pour your wild ravings in night's frighted ear,
20 And half pronounce Heaven's sacred doom severe.
21 Wise! Beauteous! Good! O every grace combin'd,
22 That charms the eye, that captivates the mind!
23 Fair as the flowret opening on the morn,
24 Whose leaves bright drops of liquid pearl adorn!
25 Sweet, as the downy-pinion'd gale, that roves
26 To gather fragrance in Arabian groves!
27 Mild, as the strains, that, at the close of day
28 Warbling remote, along the vales decay!
29 Yet, why with those compar'd? What tints so fine,
30 What sweetness, mildness can be match'd with thine?
31 Why roam abroad? since still, to Fancy's eyes,
32 I see, I see thy lovely form arise!
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33 Still let me gaze, and every care beguile,
34 Gaze on that cheek, where all the Graces smile;
35 That soul-expressing eye, benignly bright,
36 Where Meekness beams ineffable delight;
37 That brow, where Wisdom sits enthron'd serene,
38 Each feature forms, and dignifies the mien:
39 Still let me listen, while her words impart
40 The sweet effusions of the blameless heart;
41 Till all my soul, each tumult charm'd away,
42 Yields, gently led, to Virtue's easy sway.
43 By thee inspir'd, O Virtue, Age is young,
44 And music warbles from the faultering tongue;
45 Thy ray creative chears the clouded brow,
46 And decks the faded cheek with rosy glow,
47 Brightens the joyless aspect, and supplies
48 Pure heavenly lustre to the languid eyes:
49 Each look, each action, while it awes, invites,
50 And Age with every youthful grace delights.
51 But when Youth's living bloom reflects thy beams,
52 Resistless on the view the glory streams,
53 Th' ecstatic breast triumphant Virtue warms,
54 And Beauty dazzles with angelic charms.
55 Ah, whither fled! ye dear illusions stay!
56 Lo pale and silent lies the lovely clay!
57 How are the roses on that lip decay'd,
58 Which Health in all the pride of bloom array'd!
59 Health on her form each sprightly grace bestow'd;
60 With active life each speaking feature glow'd.
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61 Fair was the flower, and soft the vernal sky;
62 Elate with hope we deem'd no tempest nigh;
63 When lo! a whirlwind's instantaneous gust
64 Left all its beauties withering in the dust.
65 All cold the hand that sooth'd Woe's weary head!
66 All quench'd the eye the pitying tear that shed!
67 All mute the voice whose pleasing accents stole,
68 Infusing balm into the rankled soul!
69 O Death, why arm with cruelty thy power,
70 And spare the weed, yet lop the lovely flower!
71 Why fly thy shafts in lawless error driven!
72 To Virtue then no more the care of Heaven!
73 But peace, bold thought! be still, my bursting heart!
74 We, not ELIZA, felt the fatal dart.
75 Scap'd the dark dungeon does the slave complain,
76 Nor bless the hand that broke the galling chain?
77 Say, pines not Virtue for the lingering morn,
78 On this dark wild condemn'd to roam forlorn?
79 Where Reason's meteor-rays, with sickly glow,
80 O'er the dun gloom a dreadful glimmering throw;
81 Disclosing dubious to th' affrighted eye
82 O'erwhelming mountains tottering from on high,
83 Black billowy seas in storms perpetual tost,
84 And weary ways in wildering labyrinths lost.
85 O happy stroke that bursts the bonds of clay,
86 Darts thro' the rending gloom the blaze of day,
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87 And wings the soul with boundless flight to soar,
88 When dangers threat and fears alarm no more.
89 Transporting thought! here let me wipe away
90 The falling tear, and wake a bolder lay;
91 But ah! afresh the swimming eye o'erflows
92 Nor check the tear that streams for human woes.
93 Lo! o'er her dust, in speechless anguish, bend
94 The hopeless Parent, Husband, Brother, Friend!
95 How vain the hope of Man! But cease thy strain,
96 Nor Sorrow's dread solemnity prophane;
97 Mix'd with yon drooping mourners, o'er her bier
98 In silence shed the sympathetic tear.

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Title (in Source Edition): ELEGY. OCCASIONED BY THE DEATH OF A LADY.
Author: James Beattie
Themes: death
Genres: elegy
References: DMI 25897

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Source edition

A collection of poems in four volumes. By several hands. Vol. IV. [The second edition]. London: printed for G. Pearch, 1770, pp. 86-90. 4v. ; 8⁰. (ESTC T116245; DMI 1137; OTA K093079.004)

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