1813 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Robert Southey

Anonymous, "Robert Southey, the Poet Laureat. A Rhapsody in Four Parts" Morning Chronicle (28 September 1813).



PART THE FIRST — THE MAID OF ARC.
"SOUTHEY is the Laureat now,"
Exclaims the Maid of Arc,
Pensive, her hand upon her brow,
Her bright eye glancing dark;
Her features sinking in a frown,
Her cheek's carnation fled,
To see the laureated crown
Upon her Poet's head,
Which CIBBER and which PYE adorn'd,
Which noble GRAY contemn'd and scorn'd;
And, which, who wear, must never more
On wings of Freedom proudly soar,
But creep, confin'd in chains below,
Like captive whelm'd beneath his foe;
And — such, ill-fated Slavery's lot—
Whether they like it, or like not,
Must adulation breathe alone,
In strains by Flattery bestow'd,
Thro' Birth-day or thro' New Year's Ode,
E'en tho' a NERO fill the throne.

PART THE 2D. — THALABA.
THALABA, the young Destroyer,
Fancy's bold, adventurous child,
Woo'd by Virtue to enjoy her,
In Arabian deserts wild;
Turning from the roots of ocean,
Where Domdaniel in commotion,
Sees Enchantment earth forsaking,
Eblis on his alters quaking,
Hears — with astonishment struck dumb,
His bard, an hireling now become;
A Poet of the Court enroll'd,
Successor of the Jesters old;
For King's their Jester had — we know it,
In earlier age, as well as Poet.
Inventions both of barbarous times,
The low buffoonery and the rhymes;
Good Sense has chas'd away the Fool,
And will from Royalty discard,
In season due, the Laureat-Bard;
For Mistress of the World's great School,
Kingdoms and Kings must own her Golden Rule.

PART THE 3D — MADOC.
MADOC, his bark, on ocean steering,
Hope at the helm, each sail unfurl'd,
Before the eastern breezes veering,
To hail a new discover'd world;
Hears of the tale,
And waxing pale,
Dizzy with trouble in his brain,
Turns from his bard, belov'd in vain;
With thoughts of mingled pity and disdain,
Deeming his SOUTHEY, now, no more divine;
While wand'ring with the Cymry in his train,
Over the vast, immeasurable main,
Empires to found, and raze Mexitli's gore-stain'd shrine.

PART THE 4TH — KEHAMA.
While KEHAMA, stern and dread,
Fire in his limbs, his heart, his head,
All glowing hot, all blazing red,
Makes Padalon resound
Through all her realms — above, beneath, around,
With dismal groan,
That shakes ev'n Yamen's throne;
To see unhappy SOUTHEY, at the last,
After long years of truth and virtue past,
Before the shrine of titled Greatness stooping
His vernal honours drooping;
His genius shackled and his freedom fled,
A crown of servile laurels on his head.