Thursday, January 20, 2011

Monody - On the Death of David Garrick



Prize Poem at Bath-Easton.

Dim sweeps the shower along the misty vale,
And Grief's low accents murmur in the gale.
O'er the damp vase, Horatio, sighing, leans,
And gazes absent on the faded scenes.

Soft melancholy shades each sprightly grace,
That wont to revel o'er his Laura's face,
When, with sweet smiles, the garlands gayshetwin'd,
And each light spray her roseate ribbons bind.

Dropt from her hand the scattered myrtles lie;
And lo ! dark cypress meets the earnest eye!
For lifeless Garrick sighs from Genius breathe,
And weeping Beauty culls the funeral wreath. ...
Monody, the beginning of which is shown above, was published in "The Poetical Works of Anna Seward...", by Anna Seward; edited by Sir Walter Scott.  It memorializes fellow Lichfieldian David Garrick on his death, which occurred on January 20, 1779. 
Evidently Seward held warmer feelings for Garrick than for the more famous son of Lichfield, Samuel Johnson.  Seward was the source of several erroneous or misleading anecdotes about Johnson, which James Boswell spent significant time vetting.
By Johnson's account, and by most others', Garrick was one of the most talented and generous individuals a person could come across.  As related in Anna Bird Stewart's "Enter David Garrick", Garrick exhibited acting talent at an early age.  He brought a natural style of acting to the stage, once he finally began acting professionally, changing the profession profoundly.  Garrick put Shakespeare's Stratford on the map, through his acting, and by his development of the Stratford Shakespeare festival.  Garrick was also noted for his social gatherings, and behind the scenes supported a great many people financially.

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