Remembered chiefly as the author of Vathek (1786), one of the earliest gothic
novels, William Beckford travelled extensively and lived extravagantly. He
was also a member of Parliament. His burlesque of contemporary women's
writing, Azemia, published under the pseudonym “Jacquetta Agneta Mariana
Jenks, ” contains poetic parodies such as this sonnet penned by “a languishing
fair one.” As its title suggests, the sonnet is a parody of the type popularized
by Charlotte Smith in her Elegiac Sonnets, which was tiresomely imitated
throughout the 1780s and 1790s.
Straight remnant, of the spiry birchen bough,
That o'er the streamlet wont perchance to quake
Thy many twinkling leaves, and, bending low,
Beheld thy white rind dancing on the lake—
How doth thy present state, poor stick! awake
My pathos—for, alas! even stript as thou
May be my beating breast, if e'er forsake
Philisto this poor heart; and break his vow.
So musing on I fare, with many a sigh,
And meditating then on times long past.
To thee, lorn pole! I look with tearful eye,
As all beside the floor-soiled pail thou'rt cast,
And my sad thoughts, while I behold thee twirled,
Turn on the twistings of this troublous world.
The son of a prominent Quaker banker, Charles Lloyd wandered aimlessly as
a young man until he became the tenant and pupil of Samuel Taylor Cole-
ridge and the friend of Charles Lamb. The three published together a volume
of poems in 1797 entitled, simply, Poems. Lloyd wrote many sonnets, several
of which are highly emotional and metaphysical. Lloyd suffered from chronic
depression and increasing mental disability and frequently quarreled with his
friends. In addition to poetry, he published translations and one novel, Isabel
(1809). Lloyd spent the latter part of his life in a French mental institution.
My pleasant home! where erst when sad and faint
I sought maternal friendship's sheltering arms,