AVON. WRITTEN DURING THE STRATFORD JUBILEE.
From the clear stream that o'er her grotto flows
The silver-slipper'd Avon slowly rose,
And pensive on her crystal urn reclin'd,
Pour'd forth in notes like these her anxious mind.
What frantic train is this whose noise invades
The accustom'd stilness of my tranquil shades,
Whose swelling clamors float my banks along,
And drown the sweetness of each rural song,
Fill all the woods around with festal roar,
And fright the peaceful halcyons from my shore?
And see!from Italy's degenerate clime
The mottled hero fam'd in Pantomime,
Leads his exulting crew with impious tread
To soil the dust that pillows Shakespear's head:
With midnight sounds they break his sacred sleep,
And near his tomb opprobrious vigils keep.
Resounding axes give the solar beam
To scorch the borders of my lucid stream,
And, while around the weeping Dryads bleed,
The sons of riot praise the fatal deed:
Them it becomes to praise: but 'midst the throng
What honor'd voice is that which joins the song?
Canst thou whose powers could give this wondering age
To see the soul of Shakespear grace the stage,
Canst thou misjudging, praise each cruel blow
That lays the shade by Avon's current low,
Canst thou approve those trees untimely doom
That wave their foliage o'er thy Shakespear's tomb,
Or view the motley sons of Masquerade
Insult thy patron's venerable shade?
But hark! loud riot swells on every side,
And orgies dire pollute my virgin tide;
Ah! let my ear the unhallow'd revels fly,
Nor drink the sounds of midnight ribaldry.
She said, and plunging in the silver wave,
Sought the calm refuge of her silent cave.