A Celebration of Women Writers

"Elegy to the Memory of Werter " by Mary Darby Robinson (1758-1800)
From: Robinson, Mrs. M. Poems. London: J. Bell, 1791. pp. 80-81.

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[Page 80]

ELEGY

TO THE

MEMORY

OF

WERTER.

WRITTEN IN GERMANY, IN THE YEAR 1786.

"With female Fairies will thy tomb be haunted
"And worms will not come to thee." SHAKSPERE.

  WHEN from Day's closing eye the lucid tears
    Fall lightly on the bending lily's head;
    When o'er the blushing sky night's curtains spread,
  And the tall mountain's summit scarce appears;
    When languid Evening, sinking to repose,
    Her filmy mantle o'er the landscape throws;
  Of THEE I'll sing; and as the mournful song
  Glides in slow numbers the dark woods among;
  My wand'ring steps shall seek the lonely shade,
  Where all thy virtues, all thy griefs are laid !

  Yes, hopeless suff'rer, friendless and forlorn,
    Sweet victim of love's power; the silent tear
  Shall oft at twilight's close, and glimm'ring morn
    Gem the pale primrose that adorns thy bier,
  And as the balmy dew ascends to heaven,
  Thy crime shall steal away, thy frailty be forgiv'n.

[Page 81]

  Oft by the moon's wan beam the love-lorn maid,
    Led by soft SYMPATHY, shall stroll along;
  Oft shall she listen in the Lime-tree's * shade,
    Her cold blood freezing at the night-owl's song:
  Or, when she hears the death-bell's solemn sound,
  Her light steps echoing o'er the hollow ground;
  Oft shall the trickling tear adorn her cheek,
Thy pow'r, O SENSIBILITY ! in magic charms to speak !

For the poor PILGRIM, doom'd afar to roam
  From the dear comforts of his native home,
  A glitt'ring star puts forth a silv'ry ray,
  Soothes his sad heart, and marks his tedious way;
  The short-liv'd radiance cheers the gloom of night,
And decks Heaven's murky dome with transitory light.

So from the mournful CHARLOTTE's dark-orb'd lids,
    The sainted tear of pitying VIRTUE flows;
  And the last boon, the "churlish priest" forbids,
    On thy lone grave the sacred drop bestows;
  There shall the sparkling dews of Evening shine,
AND HEAVEN'S OWN INCENSE CONSECRATE THE SHRINE.

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* "At the corner of the church-yard are two Lime-trees, 'tis there I wish to rest."
SORROWS OF WERTER.

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[Notes were included in the original text by Mrs. Robinson, at the bottom of each individual page. They are given here at the end of each poem. ]

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