Charles Strong (1785-1864)
This elegant sonnet-writer, and accomplished and delightful man, as he is described to me by a friend who knew him well, was born at Tiverton, Devonshire, 4 May, 1785, and received his early education at Blundell's School there. He became Rector of Broughton Gifford, Wilts, in 1812, which he resigned in 1848; and died at Dawlish, Devonshire, 27 January, 1864. Besides his original sonnets, he published (anonymously) Specimens of Sonnets from the Most Celebrated Italian Poets, with Translations (1827), the firstfruits of a love for the arts and literature of Italy, imbibed during a visit to that country in 1821-2. It is to Strong that the distich in Elton's metrical epistle to Clare refers (Cherry's Life and Remains of John Clare, 1873, p. 71): "Our English Petrach trundles down/To Devon's valley."
(From A Treasury of English Sonnets.)
Time, I rejoice, amid the ruin wide
That peoples thy dark empire, to behold
Shores against which thy waves in vain have rolled,
Where man's proud works still frown above thy tide.
The deep-based pyramids still turn aside
Thy wasteful currents, vigorously old
Lucania's temples their array unfold,
Pillar and portico, in simple pride.
Nor less my joy, when, sheltered from thy storms
In earth's fond breast, hid treasure bursts the sod,
Elaborate stone in sculpture's matchless forms.
Oft did I mock thee, spoiler, as I trod
The glowing courts where still the goddess warms,
And stern in beauty stands the quivered god.
I stood at gaze where the free hills arise,
Whence rocks mid deepest solitudes are seen,
And glimmering through dark foliage, the blue sheen
Of ocean stained with heaven's own sapphire dyes:
Then into the deep air I raised my eyes;
The steadfast dome was cloudless and serene,
Fit roof to over-arch so fair a scene,
For earth in loveliness vied with the skies.
Enrolled, methought, among a happier race,
I felt immortal moments as I said,
Death finds no entrance here, and sin no place;
Then quick to mark where recent footsteps led,
I saw one bending over the furrow's trace,
And on his brow the primal sentence read.
My window's open to the evening sky,
The solemn trees are fringed with golden light,
The lawn here shadowed lies, there kindles bright,
And cherished roses lift their incense high:
The punctual thrush, on plane-tree warbling nigh,
With loud and luscious voice calls down the night;
Dim waters, flowing on with gentle might,
Between each pause are heard to murmur by.
The book that told of wars in holy land
(Nor less than Tasso sounded in mine ears)
Escapes unheeded from my listless hand.
Poets, whom nature for her service rears,
Like priests in her great temple ministering stand,
But in her glory fade when she appears.
"Is this the spot where Rome's eternal foe"
Is this the spot where Rome's eternal foe
Into his snares the mighty legions drew,
Whence from the carnage, spiritless and few,
A remnant scarcely reached her gates of woe?
Is this the stream, thus gliding soft and slow,
That from the gushing wounds of thousands, grew
So fierce a flood, that waves of crimson hue
Rushed on the bosom of the lake below?
The mountains that gave back the battle-cry
Are silent now; perchance yon hillocks green
Mark where the bones of those old warriors lie.
Heaven never gladdened a more peaceful scene;
Never left softer breeze a fairer sky
To sport upon thy waters, Thrasymene!