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AN ELEGYaa Tradition holds, that the catastrophe alluded to in this elegy happened about two centuries ago; of which the sculpture is yet to be seen at the above-mentioned bridge, near South-Petherton, Somerset.. INSCRIBED TO THE REV. MR. BEAN, OF STOKE-SUB-HAMDON, SOMERSET.
1 O Bean! whose fond connubial days
2 A beauteous infant-race attend;
3 Say, wilt thou once more aid my lays,
4 And join the patron to the friend?
5 But not o'er bright Aonian plains,
6 Enraptur'd as we us'd to roam:
7 The Muse each joyous thought restrains,
8 And calls her wing'd ideas home.
9 The wedded pair for children pray;
10 They come — fair blessings from the skies:
11 What raptures gild the haleyon day!
12 What joys in distant azure rise!
13 But ah! enamour'd as they view
14 The smiling, hopeful, infant-train,
15 Unseen, misfortune marks his due,
16 Unheard, he threats the heart with pain.
17 Had sad disaster ne'er ensnar'd
18 The soft, the innocent, and young,
19 The tender Muse had gladly spar'd
20 The little heroes of her song.
21 See'st thou the limpid current glide
22 Beneath yon bridge, my hapless theme,
23 Where brambles fringe its verdant side,
24 And willows tremble o'er the stream?
25 From Petherton it takes its name,
26 From whence two smiling infants stray'd:
27 Led by the stream they hither came,
28 And on the flowery margin play'd.
29 Sweet victims! must your short-liv'd day
30 So soon extinguish in the wave;
31 And point the setting sun his way,
32 That glimmer'd o'er your watry grave!
33 As each by childish fancy led,
34 Cropt the broad daisies as they sprung;
35 Lay stretch'd along the verdant bed,
36 And sweetly ply'd the lisping tongue;
37 Lo! from the spray-deserted steep,
38 Where either way the twigs divide,
39 The one roll'd headlong to the deep,
40 And plung'd beneath the closing tide.
41 The other saw, and from the land,
42 (While nature imag'd strange distress)
43 Stretch'd o'er the brink his little hand,
44 The fruitless signal of redress.
45 The offer'd pledge, without delay,
46 The struggling victim rose and caught;
47 But ah! in vain — their fatal way,
48 They both descended swift as thought.
49 Short was the wave-oppressing space;
50 Convuls'd with pains too sharp to bear,
51 Their lives dissolv'd in one embrace;
52 Their mingled souls flew up in air.
53 Lo! there yon time-worn sculpture shews
54 The sad, the melancholy truth;
55 What pangs the tortur'd parent knows,
56 What snares await defenceless youth.
57 Here, not to sympathy unknown,
58 Full oft the sad Muse wandering near,
59 Bends silent o'er the mossy stone,
60 And wets it with a willing tear.
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Title (in Source Edition): PETHERTON-BRIDGE. AN ELEGY. INSCRIBED TO THE REV. MR. BEAN, OF STOKE-SUB-HAMDON, SOMERSET.
Author: John Gerrard
Themes: children; death; landscapes
References: DMI 32672
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Pearch, G. A collection of poems in four volumes. By several hands. Vol. IV. [The second edition]. London: printed for G. Pearch, 1770, pp. 282-285. 4v. ; 8⁰. (ESTC T116245; DMI 1137; OTA K093079.004) (Page images digitized from a copy in the Bodleian Library [(OC) 280 o.791].)
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