1822 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Robert Southey

H., "The Laureat's Lament" Literary Speculum 1 (March 1822) 328-29.



Come, all ye Bulls, ye Murphy's, and McDowals,
List, tho' my Hippocrene is somewhat drouthy;
Ye that have any pity in your bowels,
Compassionate the sorrows of Bob Southey.

Alas! the harp of my young days is tuneless;
Harsh is my sackbut and my dulcimer,
The horizon of life to me is moonless,
No guiding star of peace or hope is near.

My butt of claret too is quite exhausted,
The rascal vintner sent too small a cask;
No precious ruby drop has e'er been wasted,
Yet the remainder would not fill a flask.

The reading public, that prodigious beast,
Kicks at my laurels now, and snorts and bellows,
And trudge I south, or north, or west or east,
Critics beset me, — those uncivil fellows.

There was a time, — that time I well remember,
When Joan of Arc (poor girl) was in her glory;
Then 'twas my May of life, — now 'tis December:
(Have patience, I am coming to the story.)

There was a time, when Radicals and Whigs
Prais'd my prose verse heroics to the skies;
When by the nose I led reforming pigs,
And found myself at home in all their styes.

That time is past: I am an altered man,
And people say, I have apostatiz'd:
To wear me out they labour all they can,
But if they do, I shall be much surpris'd.

"Visions of Judgment," when I please to see,
And on my factious enemies pass sentence;
If of my homilies they'll heedless be,
Can I not leave them a "death-bed repentance?"

Lord Byron does not heed Lord Chesterfield;
He rails in good set terms and hits me hard:
Let him rail on; I should think scorn to yield:
I can rail too, and curse him by the card.

As for Wat Tyler, — my lame bastard child,
I paid the parish to maintain it for me,
And if the brat has prov'd a little wild,
It is not friendly with the news to bore me.

I may despond at times, but since the vintner
Is soon to send me a fresh butt of sack,
I'll e'en be merry, and despite of Winter
O'er comfortable cheer my lips I'll smack.

So God save George the Fourth, my dear, dear master,
York's Grace, and all the Royal Family;
Shield him, and them, sweet pow'rs, from all disaster!
And thus concludes Bob Southey's Homily.