Egerton Brydges (1762-1837)

"This sonnet [On Echo and Silence], like those of Bowles, owes much of its reputation to the warm praise it received from certain eminent contemporaries of its author, including Wordsworth and Coleridge. It has, of course, genuine merit, though this is not one of those instances where we are likely to be induced to consider the Alexandrine at the close an unexpected charm (an Alexandrine also ends the octaveo). The somewhat pompous author never, however, wrote anything better, though that he had some faculty for his art will be evident to any one who glances through his Poems (1807)." (Sharp)

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To Autumn, near Her Departure

Thou maid of gentle light, thy straw-wove vest
And russet cincture; thy loose pale-tinged hair;
Thy melancholy voice and languid air,
As if shut up within that pensive breast
Some never-to-be-divulged grief was pressed;
Thy looks resigned that smiles of patience wear
While winter's blasts thy scattered tresses tear,
Thee, autumn, with divinest charms have blessed!

Let blooming spring with gaudy hopes delight
That dazzling summer shall of her be born;
Let summer blaze; and winter's stormy train
Breathe awful music in the ear of night--
Thee will I court, sweet dying maid forlorn,
And from thy glance will catch the inspired strain.

To a Lady in Illness

New to the world, when all was fairy ground
And shapes romantic swam before my sight,
Thy beauty caught my soul, and tints as bright
And fair as fancy's dreams in thee I found:
In cold experience when my hopes were drowned,
And life's dark clouds over-veiled in mists of night
The forms that wont to fill me with delight,
Thy view again dispelled the darkness round.

Shall I forget thee when the pallid cheek,
The sighing voice, wan look, and plaintive air
No more the roseate hue of health bespeak?
Shall I neglect thee as no longer fair?
No, lovely maid! If in my heart I seek,
Thy beauty deeply is engraven there.

Addressed to Wootton, the Spot of the Author's Nativity


When first upon my childish eyelids broke
The morning sun over that rude flinted tower
Bosomed in antique trees; when first awoke
On each delighted sense the vernal flower,
And birds began, touched by the young spring, to pour
Their tremulous harmony; when first the croak
Of that old rookery, and the woodman's stroke,
Speeded with purest joy mine infant hour.

O dear departed spirits of holy men,
By intellectual efforts purified,
Hovered ye round your earthly haunts again,
To thirst of fame like yours my soul to guide?
It is thus perchance that, from life's earliest dawn,
Forwards by fairy lights my steps are drawn


The breath of heaven, that over yonder trees
Passing, from thence a local tincture drew,
Here first upon my new-born body blew!
Oh, was there magic in the trembling breeze,
That could with such delicious softness seize
Each melting sense; and wake to music new;
And bear upon its wings a shadowy crew,
That only fancy's gifted vision sees?

Still round the sacred mansion do ye dwell,
Ye lovely fairy tribes, or are ye fled?
O once again renew the entrancing spell;
And over each raptured vein your pinions spread!
Bliss above earth were mine, could I once more
Those dear delusions of the soul restore!

On Echo and Silence

In eddying course when leaves began to fly
And Autumn in her lap the store to strew,
As 'mid wild scenes I chanced the Muse to woo,
Through glens untrod and woods that frowned on high,
Two sleeping nymphs with wonder mute I spy!--
And lo, she's gone!--in robe of dark green hue,
'Twas Echo from her sister Silence flew;
For quick the hunter's horn resounded to the sky!

In shade affrighted Silence melts away.
Not so her sister!--hark, for onward still
With far-heard step she takes her lingering way,
bounding from rock to rock, and hill to hill!
Ah, mark the merry maid in mockful play
With thousand mimic tones the laughing forest fill!