Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. III. Addison to Blake
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Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. III. The Eighteenth Century: Addison to Blake
 
Impromptu on Lord Holland’s Seat at Kingsgate
By Thomas Gray (1716–1771)
 
OLD, and abandoned by each venal friend,
  Here Holland formed the pious resolution
To smuggle a few years, and strive to mend
  A broken character and constitution.
 
On this congenial spot he fixed his choice;        5
  Earl Goodwin trembled for his neighbouring sand;
Here sea-gulls scream, and cormorants rejoice,
  And mariners, though shipwrecked, dread to land.
 
Here reign the blustering North and blighting East,
  No tree is heard to whisper, bird to sing;        10
Yet Nature could not furnish out the feast,
  Art he invokes new horrors still to bring.
 
Here mouldering fanes and battlements arise,
  Turrets and arches nodding to their fall,
Unpeopled monast’ries delude our eyes,        15
  And mimic desolation covers all.
 
‘Ah!’ said the sighing peer, ‘had Bute been true,
  Nor Mungo’s, Rigby’s, Bradshaw’s friendship vain,
Far better scenes than these had blest our view,
  And realized the beauties which we feign:        20
 
‘Purged by the sword, and purified by fire,
  Then had we seen proud London’s hated walls;
Owls would have hooted in St. Peter’s choir,
  And foxes stunk and littered in St. Paul’s.’
 
 
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