1817 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Robert Southey

Anonymous, "The Cameleon. Imitated from Cowper" Morning Chronicle (24 March 1817).



There is a Bard, who by his note,
And by the changes of his coat,
Seems Deist, Whig, or Tory;
An huge inditer of Court Lays,
Whence he obtains a Wreath of Bays,
And we a Dormitory.

On yon church top the weather-cock,
At Zephyrs breath, or Boreas' shock,
Turns round — approach it nearer;
About it how the swallows skim!
How swift it turns — that pleases him,
His pen outveers the veerer.

You think, no doubt, he wooes the Muses,
His Creed adopts, his Party chuses,
Like other prudent people;
And thus pours out his moral strain,
"Rather than waver like the vaine,
Be stable, like the steeple!"

Not so — the Minstrel, hired to sing
The pension'd praise of Church and King,
Was once that King's Reviler;
For JOAN of ARC he poised the lance,
Hurl'd Britain down, uplifted France,
And wrote — wrote what? WAT TYLER!

Blest Bard! how light thy bosom feels
That gentle ELDON holds the Seals;
For could thy motion, Southey,
From realms Tartarean provoke
To earth a BACON or a COKE,
How they would "thee and thou thee!"