Extempore Effusion Upon The Death of James Hogg: Summary

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When first, descending from the moorlands,
I saw die Stream of Yarrow glide
Along a hare and open valley,
The Ettrick Shepherd was my guide.

When last along its hanks I wandered,
Through groves that had begun to shed
Their golden leaves upon the pathways,
My steps the-Border-minstrel led.

The mighty Minstrel breathes no longer,
’Mid mouldering ruins low he lies;
And death, upon the braes of Yarrow,
Has closed the Shepherd-poet’s eyes:

Nor has the rolling year twice measured,
From sign to sign, it steadfast course,
Since every mortal power of Coleridge
Was frozen at its marvellous source;

The rapt One, of the godlike forehead,
The heaven-eyed creature sleeps in earth:
And Lamb, the frolic and the gentle,
Has vanished from his lonely hearth.

Like clouds that rake the mountain-summits,
Or waves that own no curbing hand,
How fast has brother followed brother, .
From sunshine to the sunless land!

Yet I, whose lids from infant slumber
Were earlier raised, remain to hear
A timid voice, that asks in whispers,
Who next will drop and disappear?

Our haughty life is crowned with darkness,
Like London with its own black wreath,
On which with thee, O Crabbe ! forth-looking,
I gazed from Hampstead’s breezy heath.

As if but yesterday departed,
Thou too art gone before; but why,
O’er ripe fruit, seasonably gathered.
Should frail survivors heave a sigh?

Mourn rather for that holy Spirit,
Sweet as the spring, as ocean deep.
For Her who, ere her summer faded, 
Has sunk into a breathless sleep.

No more of old romantic sorrows,
For slaughtered Youth or love-lorn Maid!
With sharper grief is Yarrow smitten,
And Ettrick mourns with her their Poet dead.


      James Hogg (1770-1835), the “Ettrick Shephered” was born in Ettrick Forest and early became a Shephered. His poetical powers were discovered by Scott. He made his reputation as a poet by The Queen’s Wake, 1813, which procured him friendship with Byron, Wordsworth and Southey. The duke of Buccleuch gave him a farm at Yarrow at a nominal rent and here he lived for the rest of his life. He accompanied Wordsworth on his first visit to the Yarrow, as will be seen from the first stanza of this poem.

      These verses were written extempore, Wordsworth says, immediately after reading a notice of Hogg’s death in a Newcastle paper. To the editor of that paper, Wordsworth sent a copy of the poem for publication and the poem in all probability was first published there. It appeared in December 1835 in The Athenaeum.

      Wordsworth added the following note on the death of his poetic contemporaries:—
Walter Scott.....died 21 September, 1832 S.T. Coleridge.....died 25th July, 1834 Charles Lamb.....died 27th December, 1834 George Crabbe.....died 3rd February, 1832 Felicia Hemans.....died 16th May, 1835.

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