Skip to main content

Elegies & laments

Death of Wolfe

(34) Death of Wolfe

[NLS note: a graphic appears here – see image of page]

           Death of Wolfe.

IN a mouldering cave, a wretched retreat,
Britannia sat wasted with care ;
She wept for her Wolfe, then exclaim'd against fate,
And then gave herself up to despair.
The walls of her cell she had sculptur'd around
With the feats of her favourite son ;
Nay, even the dust, as it lay on the ground,
Was engrav'd with some deeds he had done.

The sire of the gods, from his crystalline throne,
Beheld the disconsolate dame,                 
And, mov'd with her tears, sent Mercury down,
And these were the tidings that came :
" Britannia, forbear !—not a sigh nor a tear,
" For thy Wolfe so deservedly lov'd ;         
" Thy grief shall be chang'd into tumults of joy,
" For Wolfe is not dead, but remov'd.

" The sons of the earth, the proud giants of old,
" Have fled from their darksome abodes ;
" And, such is the news that in heaven is told,
" They are marching to war with the gods.
" A council was held in the chamber of Jove,
" And this was their final decree :
" That Wolfe should be call'd to the army above ;
" And the charge was entrusted to me.

" To the plains of Quebec with the orders I flew ;
" Wolfe begg'd for a moment's delay :
" He cried, Oh, forbear ! let me victory hear,
" And then the commands I'll obey.
" With a dark'ning film I encompass'd his eyes,
" And bore him away in an urn,
" Lest the fondness he bore to his own native shore
" Might tempt him again to return."

Images and transcriptions on this page, including medium image downloads, may be used under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence unless otherwise stated. Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence