[Page 83]

This elegy is written on the supposition that an indigent young woman had been addressed by the son of a wealthy yeoman, who resenting his attachment, had driven him from home, and compelled him to have recourse for subsistence to the occupation of a pilot, in which, attempting to save a vessel in distress, he perished.
The father dying, a tomb is supposed to be erected to his memory in the churchyard mentioned in Sonnet the 44th. And while a tempest is gathering, the unfortunate young woman comes thither; and courting the same death as had robbed her of her lover, she awaits its violence, and is at length overwhelmed by the waves.

1 'DARK gath'ring clouds involve the threat'ning skies,
2 ' The sea heaves conscious of th'impending gloom,
3 'Deep, hollow murmurs from the cliffs arise;
4 ' They come the Spirits of the Tempest come!
5 'Oh! may such terrors mark th' approaching night
6 ' As reign'd on that these streaming eyes deplore!
7 'Flash, ye red fires of Heav'n, with fatal light,
8 ' And with conflicting winds, ye waters roar!
9 'Loud, and more loud, ye foaming billows burst!
10 ' Ye warring elements more fiercely rave!
11 'Till the wide waves o'erwhelm the spot accurst,
12 "Where ruthless Avarice finds a quiet grave!"
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13 Thus with clasp'd hands, wild looks and streaming hair,
14 While shrieks of horror broke her trembling speech,
15 A wretched maid the victim of Despair,
16 Survey'd the threat'ning storm and desert beech;
17 Then to the tomb where now the father slept,
18 Whose rugged nature bade her sorrows flow,
19 Frantic she turn'd and beat her breast and wept,
20 Invoking vengeance on the dust below.
21 'Lo! rising there above each humbler heap,
22 ' Yon cypher'd stones his name and wealth relate,
23 'Who gave his son remorseless to the deep,
24 ' While I, his living victim, curse my fate.
25 'Oh! my lost love! no tomb is plac'd for thee,
26 ' That may to strangers' eyes thy worth impart;
27 ' Thou hast no grave, but in the stormy sea,
28 'And no memorial, but this breaking heart.
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29 'Forth to the world, a widow'd wand'rer driv'n,
30 ' I pour to winds and waves th' unheeded tear,
31 'Try with vain effort to submit to Heav'n,
32 ' And fruitless call on him "who cannot hear."


And fruitless calls on him who cannot hear.
I fruitless mourn to him who cannot hear,
And weep the more because I weep in vain.
Gray's exquisite Sonnet:

in reading which it is impossible not to regret that he wrote only one.

33 'Oh! might I fondly clasp him once again,
34 ' While o'er my head th' infuriate billows pour,
35 'Forget in Death this agonizing pain,
36 ' And feel his father's cruelty no more!
37 'Part, raging waters, part, and shew beneath,
38 ' In your dread caves, his pale and mangled form;
39 'Now, while the demons of Despair and Death
40 ' Ride on the blast, and urge the howling storm!
41 'Lo! by the light'ning's momentary blaze,
42 ' I see him rise the whitening waves above,
43 'No longer such as when in happier days
44 ' He gave th' enchanted hours to me and love.
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45 'Such, as when daring the enchafed sea,
46 ' And courting dang'rous toil, he often said,
47 'That every peril, one soft smile from me,
48 ' One sigh of speechless tenderness, o'erpaid.
49 'But dead, disfigur'd, while between the roar
50 ' Of the loud waves his accents pierce mine ear,
51 'And seem to say Ah! wretch, delay no more,
52 ' But come, unhappy mourner meet me here.
53 'Yet, powerful Fancy, bid the phantom stay,
54 ' Still let me hear him! 'Tis already past;
55 'Along the waves his shadow glides away,
56 ' I lose his voice amid the deaf'ning blast.
57 'Ah! wild Illusion, born of frantic Pain!
58 ' He hears not, comes not from his wat'ry bed;
59 'My tears, my anguish, my despair are vain,
60 ' Th' insatiate ocean gives not up its dead.
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61 ''Tis not his voice! Hark! the deep thunders roll;
62 ' Up heaves the ground; the rocky barriers fail;
63 'Approach, ye horrors that delight my soul,
64 ' Despair, and Death, and Desolation hail!'
65 The ocean hears th' embodied waters come
66 Rise o'er the land, and with resistless sweep
67 Tear from its base the proud aggressor's tomb,
68 And bear the injured to eternal sleep!


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About this text

Title (in Source Edition): Elegy.
Genres: elegy; heroic quatrain

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Source edition

Smith, Charlotte Turner, 1749-1806. Elegiac sonnets, and other poems. By Charlotte Smith. The first Worcester edition, from the sixth London edition, with additions. Printed at Worcester [Mass.]: by Isaiah Thomas, sold by him in Worcester, and by said Thomas and Andrews in Boston, 1795, pp. 83-87. xix,[2],22-126,[2]p.,[5] leaves of plates: ill.; 15 cm. (12mo) (OTA N22357)

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The text has been typographically modernized, but without any silent modernization of spelling, capitalization, or punctuation. The source of the text is given and all editorial interventions have been recorded in textual notes. Based on the electronic text originally produced by the TCP project, this ECPA text has been edited to conform to the recommendations found in Level 5 of the Best Practices for TEI in Libraries version 4.0.0.

Other works by Charlotte Smith (née Turner)