Best Famous Thomas Chatterton Poems

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12
Written by Thomas Chatterton | Create an image from this poem

February

 Begin, my muse, the imitative lay, 
Aonian doxies sound the thrumming string; 
Attempt no number of the plaintive Gay, 
Let me like midnight cats, or Collins sing.
If in the trammels of the doleful line The bounding hail, or drilling rain descend; Come, brooding Melancholy, pow'r divine, And ev'ry unform'd mass of words amend.
Now the rough goat withdraws his curling horns, And the cold wat'rer twirls his circling mop: Swift sudden anguish darts thro' alt'ring corns, And the spruce mercer trembles in his shop.
Now infant authors, madd'ning for renown, Extend the plume, and him about the stage, Procure a benefit, amuse the town, And proudly glitter in a title page.
Now, wrapt in ninefold fur, his squeamish grace Defies the fury of the howling storm; And whilst the tempest whistles round his face, Exults to find his mantled carcase warm.
Now rumbling coaches furious drive along, Full of the majesty of city dames, Whose jewels sparkling in the gaudy throng, Raise strange emotions and invidious flames.
Now Merit, happy in the calm of place, To mortals as a highlander appears, And conscious of the excellence of lace, With spreading frogs and gleaming spangles glares.
Whilst Envy, on a tripod seated nigh, In form a shoe-boy, daubs the valu'd fruit, And darting lightnings from his vengeful eye, Raves about Wilkes, and politics, and Bute.
Now Barry, taller than a grenadier, Dwindles into a stripling of eighteen; Or sabled in Othello breaks the ear, Exerts his voice, and totters to the scene.
Now Foote, a looking-glass for all mankind, Applies his wax to personal defects; But leaves untouch'd the image of the mind, His art no mental quality reflects.
Now Drury's potent kind extorts applause, And pit, box, gallery, echo, "how divine!" Whilst vers'd in all the drama's mystic laws, His graceful action saves the wooden line.
Now-- but what further can the muses sing? Now dropping particles of water fall; Now vapours riding on the north wind's wing, With transitory darkness shadow all.
Alas! how joyless the descriptive theme, When sorrow on the writer's quiet preys And like a mouse in Cheshire cheese supreme, Devours the substance of the less'ning bays.
Come, February, lend thy darkest sky.
There teach the winter'd muse with clouds to soar; Come, February, lift the number high; Let the sharp strain like wind thro' alleys roar.
Ye channels, wand'ring thro' the spacious street, In hollow murmurs roll the dirt along, With inundations wet the sabled feet, Whilst gouts responsive, join th'elegiac song.
Ye damsels fair, whose silver voices shrill, Sound thro' meand'ring folds of Echo's horn; Let the sweet cry of liberty be still, No more let smoking cakes awake the morn.
O, Winter! Put away the snowy pride; O, Spring! Neglect the cowslip and the bell; O, Summer! Throw thy pears and plums aside; O, Autumn! Bid the grape with poison swell.
The pension'd muse of Johnson is no more! Drown'd in a butt of wine his genius lies; Earth! Ocean! Heav'n! The wond'rous loss deplore, The dregs of nature with her glory dies.
What iron Stoic can suppress the tear; What sour reviewer read with vacant eye! What bard but decks his literary bier! Alas! I cannot sing-- I howl-- I cry--
Written by Thomas Chatterton | Create an image from this poem

The Advice

 Revolving in their destin'd sphere, 
The hours begin another year 
As rapidly to fly; 
Ah! think, Maria, (e'er in grey 
Those auburn tresses fade away
So youth and beauty die.
Tho' now the captivating throng Adore with flattery and song, And all before you bow; Whilst unattentive to the strain, You hear the humble muse complain, Or wreathe your frowning brow.
Tho' poor Pitholeon's feeble line, In opposition to the nine, Still violates your name; Tho' tales of passion meanly told, As dull as Cumberland, as cold, Strive to confess a flame.
Yet, when that bloom and dancing fire, In silver'd rev'rence shall expire, Aged, wrinkled, and defaced; To keep one lover's flame alive, Requires the genius of a Clive, With Walpole's mental taste.
Tho' rapture wantons in your air, Tho' beyond simile you're fair, Free, affable, serene; Yet still one attribute divine Should in your composition shine-- Sincerity, I mean.
Tho' num'rous swains before you fall, 'Tis empty admiration all, 'Tis all that you require; How momentary are their chains! Like you, how unsincere the strains Of those who but admire! Accept, for once, advice from me, And let the eye of censure see Maria can be true; No more for fools or empty beaux, Heav'n's representatives disclose, Or butterflies pursue.
Fly to your worthiest lover's arms, To him resign your swelling charms, And meet his gen'rous breast; Or if Pitholeon suits your taste, His muse with tattr'd fragments graced, Shall read your cares to rest.
Written by Thomas Chatterton | Create an image from this poem

A Hymn for Christmas Day

 Almighty Framer of the Skies! 
O let our pure devotion rise, 
Like Incense in thy Sight! 
Wrapt in impenetrable Shade 
The Texture of our Souls were made 
Till thy Command gave light.
The Sun of Glory gleam'd the Ray, Refin'd the Darkness into Day, And bid the Vapours fly; Impell'd by his eternal Love He left his Palaces above To cheer our gloomy Sky.
How shall we celebrate the day, When God appeared in mortal clay, The mark of worldly scorn; When the Archangel's heavenly Lays, Attempted the Redeemer's Praise And hail'd Salvation's Morn! A Humble Form the Godhead wore, The Pains of Poverty he bore, To gaudy Pomp unknown; Tho' in a human walk he trod Still was the Man Almighty God In Glory all his own.
Despis'd, oppress'd, the Godhead bears The Torments of this Vale of tears; Nor bade his Vengeance rise; He saw the Creatures he had made, Revile his Power, his Peace invade; He saw with Mercy's Eyes.
How shall we celebrate his Name, Who groan'd beneath a Life of shame In all Afflictions tried! The Soul is raptured to concieve A Truth, which Being must believe, The God Eternal died.
My Soul exert thy Powers, adore, Upon Devotion's plumage sar To celebrate the Day; The God from whom Creation sprung Shall animate my grateful Tongue; From him I'll catch the Lay!
Written by Thomas Chatterton | Create an image from this poem

A New Song

 Ah blame me not, Catcott, if from the right way 
My notions and actions run far.
How can my ideas do other but stray, Deprived of their ruling North-Star? A blame me not, Broderip, if mounted aloft, I chatter and spoil the dull air; How can I imagine thy foppery soft, When discord's the voice of my fair? If Turner remitted my bluster and rhymes, If Hardind was girlish and cold, If never an ogle was got from Miss Grimes, If Flavia was blasted and old; I chose without liking, and left without pain, Nor welcomed the frown with a sigh; I scorned, like a monkey, to dangle my chain, And paint them new charms with a lie.
Once Cotton was handsome; I flam'd and I burn'd, I died to obtain the bright queen; But when I beheld my epistle return'd, By Jesu it alter'd the scene.
She's damnable ugly, my Vanity cried, You lie, says my Conscience, you lie; Resolving to follow the dictates of Pride, I'd view her a hag to my eye.
But should she regain her bright lustre again, And shine in her natural charms, 'Tis but to accept of the works of my pen, And permit me to use my own arms.
Written by Thomas Chatterton | Create an image from this poem

The Resignation

 O God, whose thunder shakes the sky, 
Whose eye this atom globe surveys, 
To thee, my only rock, I fly, 
Thy mercy in thy justice praise.
The mystic mazes of thy will, The shadows of celestial light, Are past the pow'r of human skill,-- But what th' Eternal acts is right.
O teach me in the trying hour, When anguish swells the dewy tear, To still my sorrows, own thy pow'r, Thy goodness love, thy justice fear.
If in this bosom aught but Thee Encroaching sought a boundless sway, Omniscience could the danger see, And Mercy look the cause away.
Then why, my soul, dost thou complain? Why drooping seek the dark recess? Shake off the melancholy chain.
For God created all to bless.
But ah! my breast is human still; The rising sigh, the falling tear, My languid vitals' feeble rill, The sickness of my soul declare.
But yet, with fortitude resigned, I'll thank th' inflicter of the blow; Forbid the sigh, compose my mind, Nor let the gush of mis'ry flow.
The gloomy mantle of the night, Which on my sinking spirit steals, Will vanish at the morning light, Which God, my East, my sun reveals.
Written by Thomas Chatterton | Create an image from this poem

Sly Dick

 Sharp was the frost, the wind was high 
And sparkling stars bedeckt the sky 
Sly Dick in arts of cunning skill'd, 
Whose rapine all his pockets fill'd, 
Had laid him down to take his rest 
And soothe with sleep his anxious breast.
'Twas thus a dark infernal sprite A native of the blackest night, Portending mischief to devise Upon Sly Dick he cast his eyes; Then straight descends the infernal sprite, And in his chamber does alight; In visions he before him stands, And his attention he commands.
Thus spake the sprite-- hearken my friend, And to my counsels now attend.
Within the garret's spacious dome There lies a well stor'd wealthy room, Well stor'd with cloth and stockings too, Which I suppose will do for you, First from the cloth take thou a purse, For thee it will not be the worse, A noble purse rewards thy pains, A purse to hold thy filching gains; Then for the stockings let them reeve And not a scrap behind thee leave, Five bundles for a penny sell And pence to thee will come pell mell; See it be done with speed and care Thus spake the sprite and sunk in air.
When in the morn with thoughts erect Sly Dick did on his dreams reflect, Why faith, thinks he, 'tis something too, It might-- perhaps-- it might be true, I'll go and see-- away he hies, And to the garret quick he flies, Enters the room, cuts up the clothes And after that reeves up the hose; Then of the cloth he purses made, Purses to hold his filching trade.
Written by Thomas Chatterton | Create an image from this poem

Song from Aella

 O SING unto my roundelay, 
O drop the briny tear with me; 
Dance no more at holyday, 
Like a running river be: 
 My love is dead, 
 Gone to his death-bed 
All under the willow-tree.
Black his cryne as the winter night, White his rode as the summer snow, Red his face as the morning light, Cold he lies in the grave below: My love is dead, Gone to his death-bed All under the willow-tree.
Sweet his tongue as the throstle's note, Quick in dance as thought can be, Deft his tabor, cudgel stout; O he lies by the willow-tree! My love is dead, Gone to his death-bed All under the willow-tree.
Hark! the raven flaps his wing In the brier'd dell below; Hark! the death-owl loud doth sing To the nightmares, as they go: My love is dead, Gone to his death-bed All under the willow-tree.
See! the white moon shines on high; Whiter is my true-love's shroud: Whiter than the morning sky, Whiter than the evening cloud: My love is dead, Gone to his death-bed All under the willow-tree.
Here upon my true-love's grave Shall the barren flowers be laid; Not one holy saint to save All the coldness of a maid: My love is dead, Gone to his death-bed All under the willow-tree.
With my hands I'll dent the briers Round his holy corse to gre: Ouph and fairy, light your fires, Here my body still shall be: My love is dead, Gone to his death-bed All under the willow-tree.
Come, with acorn-cup and thorn, Drain my heartes blood away; Life and all its good I scorn, Dance by night, or feast by day: My love is dead, Gone to his death-bed All under the willow-tree.
Written by Thomas Chatterton | Create an image from this poem

Heccar and Gaira

 Where the rough Caigra rolls the surgy wave, 
Urging his thunders thro' the echoing cave; 
Where the sharp rocks, in distant horror seen, 
Drive the white currents thro' the spreading green; 
Where the loud tiger, pawing in his rage, 
Bids the black archers of the wilds engage; 
Stretch'd on the sand, two panting warriors lay, 
In all the burning torments of the day; 
Their bloody jav'lins reeked one living steam, 
Their bows were broken at the roaring stream; 
Heccar the Chief of Jarra's fruitful hill, 
Where the dark vapours nightly dews distil, 
Saw Gaira the companion of his soul, 
Extended where loud Caigra's billows roll; 
Gaira, the king of warring archers found, 
Where daily lightnings plough the sandy ground, 
Where brooding tempests bowl along the sky, 
Where rising deserts whirl'd in circles fly.
Heccar.
Gaira, 'tis useless to attempt the chace, Swifter than hunted wolves they urge the race; Their lessening forms elude the straining eye, Upon the plumage of macaws they fly.
Let us return, and strip the reeking slain Leaving the bodies on the burning plain.
Gaira.
Heccar, my vengeance still exclaims for blood, 'Twould drink a wider stream than Caigra's flood.
This jav'lin, oft in nobler quarrels try'd, Put the loud thunder of their arms aside.
Fast as the streaming rain, I pour'd the dart, Hurling a whirlwind thro' the trembling heart; But now my ling'ring feet revenge denies, O could I throw my jav'lin from my eyes! Heccar.
When Gaira the united armies broke, Death wing'd the arrow; death impell'd the stroke.
See, pil'd in mountains, on the sanguine sand The blasted of the lightnings of thy hand.
Search the brown desert, and the glossy green; There are the trophies of thy valour seen.
The scatter'd bones mantled in silver white, Once animated, dared the force in fight.
The children of the wave, whose pallid face, Views the faint sun display a languid face, From the red fury of thy justice fled, Swifter than torrents from their rocky bed.
Fear with a sickened silver ting'd their hue; The guilty fear, when vengeance is their due.
Gaira.
Rouse not Remembrance from her shadowy cell, Nor of those bloody sons of mischief tell.
Cawna, O Cawna! deck'd in sable charms, What distant region holds thee from my arms? Cawna, the pride of Afric's sultry vales, Soft as the cooling murmur of the gales, Majestic as the many colour'd snake, Trailing his glories thro' the blossom'd brake; Black as the glossy rocks, where Eascal roars, Foaming thro' sandy wastes to Jaghir's shores; Swift as the arrow, hasting to the breast, Was Cawna, the companion of my rest.
The sun sat low'ring in the western sky, The swelling tempest spread around the eye; Upon my Cawna's bosom I reclin'd, Catching the breathing whispers of the wind Swift from the wood a prowling tiger came; Dreadful his voice, his eyes a glowing flame; I bent the bow, the never-erring dart Pierced his rough armour, but escaped his heart; He fled, tho' wounded, to a distant waste, I urg'd the furious flight with fatal haste; He fell, he died-- spent in the fiery toil, I strip'd his carcase of the furry spoil, And as the varied spangles met my eye, On this, I cried, shall my loved Cawna lie.
The dusky midnight hung the skies in grey; Impell'd by love, I wing'd the airy way; In the deep valley and mossy plain, I sought my Cawna, but I sought in vain, The pallid shadows of the azure waves Had made my Cawna, and my children slaves.
Reflection maddens, to recall the hour, The gods had given me to the demon's power.
The dusk slow vanished from the hated lawn, I gain'd a mountain glaring with the dawn.
There the full sails, expanded to the wind, Struck horror and distraction in my mind, There Cawna mingled with a worthless train, In common slavery drags the hated chain.
Now judge, my Heccar, have I cause for rage? Should aught the thunder of my arm assuage? In ever-reeking blood this jav'lin dyed With vengeance shall be never satisfied; I'll strew the beaches with the mighty dead And tinge the lily of their features red.
Heccar.
When the loud shriekings of the hostile cry Roughly salute my ear, enraged I'll fly; Send the sharp arrow quivering thro' the heart Chill the hot vitals with the venom'd dart; Nor heed the shining steel or noisy smoke, Gaira and Vengeance shall inspire the stroke.
Written by Thomas Chatterton | Create an image from this poem

The Death of Nicou

 On Tiber's banks, Tiber, whose waters glide 
In slow meanders down to Gaigra's side; 
And circling all the horrid mountain round, 
Rushes impetuous to the deep profound; 
Rolls o'er the ragged rocks with hideous yell; 
Collects its waves beneath the earth's vast shell; 
There for a while in loud confusion hurl'd, 
It crumbles mountains down and shakes the world.
Till borne upon the pinions of the air, Through the rent earth the bursting waves appear; Fiercely propell'd the whiten'd billows rise, Break from the cavern, and ascend the skies; Then lost and conquered by superior force, Through hot Arabia holds its rapid coursel On Tiber's banks where scarlet jas'mines bloom, And purple aloes shed a rich perfume; Where, when the sun is melting in his heat, The reeking tygers find a cool retreat; Bask in the sedges, lose the sultry beam, And wanton with their shadows in the stream; On Tiber's banks, by sacred priests rever'd, Where in the days of old a god appear'd; 'Twas in the dead of night, at Chalma's feast, The tribe of Alra slept around the priest.
He spoke; as evening thunders bursting near, His horrid accents broke upon the ear; Attend, Alraddas, with your sacred priest! This day the sun is rising in the east; The sun, which shall illumine all the earth, Now, now is rising, in a mortal birth.
He vanish'd like a vapour of the night, And sunk away in a faint blaze of light.
Swift from the branches of the holy oak, Horror, confusion, fear, and torment brake; And still when midnight trims her mazy lamp, They take their way through Tiber's wat'ry swamp.
On Tiber's banks, close ranked, a warring train, Stretch'd to the distant edge of Galca's plain; So when arrived at Gaigra's highest steep, We view the wide expansion of the deep; See in the gilding of her wat'ry robe, The quick declension of the circling globe; From the blue sea a chain of mountains rise, Blended at once with water and with skies; Beyond our sight in vast extension curl'd, The check of waves, the guardians of the world.
Strong were the warriors, as the ghost of Cawn, Who threw the Hill-of-archers to the lawn; When the soft earth at his appearance fled; And rising billows play'd around his head; When a strong tempest rising from the main, Dashed the full clouds, unbroken on the plain.
Nicou, immortal in the sacred song, Held the red sword of war, and led the strong; From his own tribe the sable warriors came, Well try'd in battle, and well known in fame.
Nicou, descended from the god of war, Who lived coeval with the morning star; Narada was his name; who cannot tell How all the world through great Narada fell! Vichon, the god who ruled above the skies, Look'd, on Narada, but with envious eyes; The warrior dared him, ridiculed his might, Bent his white bow, and summon'd him to fight.
Vichon, disdainful, bade his lightnings fly, And scatter'd burning arrows in the sky; Threw down a star the armour of his feet, To burn the air with supernat'ral heat; Bid a loud tempes roar beneath the ground; Lifted him up, and bore him thro' the sea.
The waters still ascending fierce and high, He tower'd into the chambers of the sky; There Vichon sat, his armour on his bed, He thought Narada with the mighty dead.
Before his seat the heavenly warrior stands, The lightning quiv'ring in his yellow hands.
The god astonish'd dropt; hurl'd from the shore, He dropt to torments, and to rise no more.
Head-long he falls; 'tis his own arms compel.
Condemn'd in ever-burning fires to dwell.
From this Narada, mighty Nicou sprung; The mighty Nicou, furious, wild and young.
Who led th'embattled archers to the field, And more a thunderbolt upon his shield; That shield his glorious father died to gain, When the white warriors fled along the plain, When the full sails could not provoke the flood, Till Nicou came and swell'd the seas with blood.
Slow at the end of his robust array, The mighty warrior pensive took his way; Against the son of Nair, the young Rorest, Once the companion of his youthful breast.
Strong were the passions of the son of Nair, Strong, as the tempest of the evening air.
Insatiate in desire; fierce as the boar; Firm in resolve as Cannie's rocky shore.
Long had the gods endeavour'd to destroy, All Nicou's friendship, happiness, and joy: They sought in vain, 'till Vicat, Vichon's son, Never in feats of wickedness outdone, Saw Nica, sister to the Mountain king, Drest beautiful, with all the flow'rs of spring; He saw, and scatter'd poison in her eyes; From limb to limb in varied forms he flies; Dwelt on her crimson lip, and added grace To every glossy feature of her face.
Rorest was fir'd with passion at the sight.
Friendship and honor, sunk to Vicat's right; He saw, he lov'd, and burning with desire, Bore the soft maid from brother, sister, sire.
Pining with sorrow, Nica faded, died, Like a fair alow, in its morning pride.
This brought the warrior to the bloody mead, And sent to young Rorest the threat'ning reed.
He drew his army forth: Oh, need I tell! That Nicou conquer'd, and the lover fell; His breathless army mantled all the plain; And Death sat smiling on the heaps of slain.
The battle ended, with his reeking dart, The pensive Nicou pierc'd his beating heart; And to his mourning valiant warriors cry'd, I, and my sister's ghost are satisfy'd.
Written by Thomas Chatterton | Create an image from this poem

An Excelente Balade of Charitie: As Wroten bie the Gode Pri

 In Virgynë the sweltrie sun gan sheene, 
And hotte upon the mees did caste his raie; 
The apple rodded from its palie greene, 
And the mole peare did bende the leafy spraie; 
The peede chelandri sunge the livelong daie; 
'Twas nowe the pride, the manhode of the yeare, 
And eke the grounde was dighte in its moste defte aumere.
The sun was glemeing in the midde of daie, Deadde still the aire, and eke the welken blue, When from the sea arist in drear arraie A hepe of cloudes of sable sullen hue, The which full fast unto the woodlande drewe, Hiltring attenes the sunnis fetive face, And the blacke tempeste swolne and gatherd up apace.
Beneathe an holme, faste by a pathwaie side, Which dide unto Seyncte Godwine's covent lede, A hapless pilgrim moneynge did abide.
Pore in his newe, ungentle in his weede, Longe bretful of the miseries of neede, Where from the hail-stone coulde the almer flie? He had no housen theere, ne anie covent nie.
Look in his glommed face, his sprighte there scanne; Howe woe-be-gone, how withered, forwynd, deade! Haste to thie church-glebe-house, asshrewed manne! Haste to thie kiste, thie onlie dortoure bedde.
Cale, as the claie whiche will gre on thie hedde, Is Charitie and Love aminge highe elves; Knightis and Barons live for pleasure and themselves.
The gatherd storme is rype; the bigge drops falle; The forswat meadowes smethe, and drenche the raine; The comyng ghastness do the cattle pall, And the full flockes are drivynge ore the plaine; Dashde from the cloudes the waters flott againe; The welkin opes; the yellow levynne flies; And the hot fierie smothe in the wide lowings dies.
Liste! now the thunder's rattling clymmynge sound Cheves slowlie on, and then embollen clangs, Shakes the hie spyre, and losst, dispended, drown'd, Still on the gallard eare of terroure hanges; The windes are up; the lofty elmen swanges; Again the levynne and the thunder poures, And the full cloudes are braste attenes in stonen showers.
Spurreynge his palfrie oere the watrie plaine, The Abbote of Seyncte Godwynes convente came; His chapournette was drented with the reine, And his pencte gyrdle met with mickle shame; He aynewarde tolde his bederoll at the same; The storme encreasen, and he drew aside, With the mist almes craver neere to the holme to bide.
His cope was all of Lyncolne clothe so fyne, With a gold button fasten'd neere his chynne; His autremete was edged with golden twynne, And his shoone pyke a loverds mighte have binne; Full well it shewn he thoughten coste no sinne: The trammels of the palfrye pleasde his sighte, For the horse-millanare his head with roses dighte.
"An almes, sir prieste!" the droppynge pilgrim saide, "O! let me waite within your covente dore, Till the sunne sheneth hie above our heade, And the loude tempeste of the aire is oer; Helpless and ould am I alas! and poor; No house, ne friend, ne moneie in my pouche; All yatte I call my owne is this my silver crouche.
" "Varlet," replyd the Abbatte, "cease your dinne; This is no season almes and prayers to give; Mie porter never lets a faitour in; None touch mie rynge who not in honour live.
" And now the sonne with the blacke cloudes did stryve, And shettynge on the grounde his glairie raie, The Abbatte spurrde his steede, and eftsoones roadde awaie.
Once moe the skie was blacke, the thunder rolde; Faste reyneynge oer the plaine a prieste was seen; Ne dighte full proude, ne buttoned up in golde; His cope and jape were graie, and eke were clene; A Limitoure he was of order seene; And from the pathwaie side then turned hee, Where the pore almer laie binethe the holmen tree.
"An almes, sir priest!" the droppynge pilgrim sayde, "For sweete Seyncte Marie and your order sake.
" The Limitoure then loosen'd his pouche threade, And did thereoute a groate of silver take; The mister pilgrim dyd for halline shake.
"Here take this silver, it maie eathe thie care; We are Goddes stewards all, nete of oure owne we bare.
"But ah! unhailie pilgrim, lerne of me, Scathe anie give a rentrolle to their Lorde.
Here take my semecope, thou arte bare I see; Tis thyne; the Seynctes will give me mie rewarde.
" He left the pilgrim, and his waie aborde.
Virgynne and hallie Seyncte, who sitte yn gloure, Or give the mittee will, or give the gode man power.
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