1823 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Allan Cunningham

William Branwhite Clarke, "To Allan Cunningham, by the Author of The River Derwent" London Magazine 7 (April 1823) 372.



Minstrel of other days! if stranger's hand
May to thy name attune a votive lay,
Thee, worthy as thou art of crown of bay,
And all the wealth Parnassian fields command,
Fain would I hail! For thou, as with a wand
Of magic, hast call'd up, in proud array,
Scenes which had passed confusedly away
To the dim confines of tradition's land!
Thee, on whose mind imaginative powers
Have shed the blessing and the pomp of song,
Long may Joy keep in her elysian bowers,
And Fancy lead in her immortal throng!
May spirits lap thee in Castalia's tide,
And give thee wings, upon the winds to ride,—

That from the halls which in the heavens arise,
Where day-light ever smiles on happy Time,
From the bright meads of the ethereal clime,
Hereafter thou may'st win the glorious prize
Which shall thy name and verse immortalize,—
That gift which shall reward thy gorgeous rhyme—
Thy fabled strains — and genius sublime,
And lift thee to thy mansion in the skies!
Proceed, sweet minstrel! Charm us yet awhile
With grateful tales, from Cumbrian legends cull'd,
And from thy country's annals. Thee the smile
Of Britain welcomes, in seclusion lull'd
Amid the worthies of those distant years,
To whom thy page a welcome tribute rears.

The mighty bard of Albion's glens and hills,
(He who hath conjured up, as in a dream,
Visions which floated on oblivion's stream,
And taught the feelings which the Muse instills;
Whether she lingers by the modest rills,
Or lists the trumpet and the eagle's scream
On fields of war:) not more hath felt the gleam—
The warmth — the fire which thy conception fills.
Bard, thou, of other days — beloved in thee!
Though thine own valleys vibrate with thy name;
Let not a distant sound of praise displease,
From one who envies thee the wreath of Fame.
Receive my thanks, and proud my verse shall be
Thus to acknowledge thy sweet minstrelsy.
December, 1822.