The fairest flowers soonest fade away
And fruits that grow to ripeness ere their time
Are often blasted by one treacherous rime,
All unexpected in the month of May.
E’en so fell blighted thy too brilliant day
For this cold world – Unhappy Chatterton!
Scarce had’st thou life, when lo! thy light was gone
And ceased the proud beginnings of thy lay
Oh! what awaited thy too precocious powers?
The fearful racking of thy youthful brain
Thy daily tasks – thy sleepless midnight hours
And search of musty records all were vain
When Pride stepped in & goaded thee to die
Rather than live in cruel beggary.
Uppingham. Aug: 1869
[Hardwicke said that this was the first sonnet he ever wrote. It can be found in RR/1/7, Catherine Rawnsley’s Commonplace Book, in the Rawnsley Archives.]