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Reason tortur'd, scripture twisted,
Into every form of fancy:
Will contribute their souse
Hark! hark !-his cry resounds,
Or the devil, I swear,
Whoever gives, unto the Lord he lends.
Why blooms the radiance of the morning sky?
Why spring the beauties of the season round? Why buds the blossom with the glossy dye?
Ah! why does nature beautify the ground?
Whilst softly floating on the zephyr's wing,
The melting accents of the thrushes rise ; And all the heavenly music of the spring,
Steal on the sense, and harmonize the skies.
When the rack'd soul is not attuned to joy,
When sorrow an internal monarch reigns : In vain the choristers their powers employ,
'Tis hateful music, and discordant strains.
The velvet mantle of the skirted mead,
The rich varieties of Flora's pride,
Disgusts the eye, and bids the big tear glide.
Once, ere the gold-hair'd sun shot the new ray
Through the grey twilight of the dubious morn, To woodlands, lawn, and hills, I took my way,
And list'ned to the echoes of the horn ;
• This poem was printed in the Town and Country Magazine for February, 1770, and was signed with Chatterton's initials, and dated Shoreditch.
Dwelt on the prospect, sought the varied view,
Traced the meanders of the bubbling stream : From joy to joy, uninterrupted flew,
And thought existence but a fairy dream.
Now through the gloomy cloister's length’ning way,
Through all the terror superstition frames, I lose the minutes of the lingering day,
And view the night light up her pointed flames.
I dare the danger of the mould'ring wall,
Nor heed the arch that totters o'er my head : O! quickly may the friendly ruin fall,
Release me of my love, and strike me dead.
M. -! cruel, sweet, inexorable fair,
0! must I unregarded seek the grave! Must I from all my bosom holds repair,
When one indulgent smile from thee would save.
Let mercy plead my cause; and think, oh! think!
A love like mine but ill deserves thy hate : Remember, I am tottering on the brink,
Thy smile or censure seals my final fate.
CLIFTON.* Clifton, sweet village ! now demands the lay, The lov'd retreat of all the rich and gay ; The darling spot which pining maidens seek, To give health's roses to the pallid cheek. Warm from its fount the holy water pours, And lures the sick to Clifton's neighbouring bowers. Let bright Hygeia her glad reign resume, And o’er each sickly form renew her bloom. Me, whom no fell disease this hour compels To visit Bristol's celebrated wells, Far other motives prompt my eager view ; My heart can here its fav’rite bent pursue ; Here can I gaze, and pause, and muse between, And draw some moral truth from ev'ry scene. Yon dusky rocks, that, from the stream arise In rude rough grandeur, threat the distant skies, Seem as if nature in a painful throe, With dire convulsions, lab'ring to and fro, (To give the boiling waves a ready vent) At one dread stroke the solid mountain rent ; The huge cleft rocks transmit to distant fame, The sacred gilding of a good saint's name. Now round the varied scene attention turns Her ready eye-my soul with ardour burns ;
• From a copy in Chatterton's hand-writing in the British Museum.
For on that spot my glowing fancy dwells,
Here as I musing take my pensive stand, Whilst evening shadows lengthen o'er the land, O'er the wide landscape cast the circling eye, How ardent mem'ry prompts the fervid sigh ; O’er the historic page my fancy runs, Of Britain's fortunes-of her valiant sons. Yon castle, erst of Saxon standards proud, Its neighbouring meadows dyed with Danish blood. Then of its later fate a view I take: Here the sad monarch lost his hope's last stake ;