1788 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Anna Seward

Richard Polwhele, "To Anna Seward" 1788; Polwhele, Traditions and Recollections (1826) 2:647-48.



While Friendship hails the rosy plume,
That wafts bright joy through Yoxal's shade,
Say, shall not Gratitude illume
The breast that erst, its hopes to aid,
The Muse of Litchfield cheer'd with genial ray,
And gave the unfolding blossoms into day?

Yes! to the sweetest of the choir,
For whom attendant genius brings,
Caught from the sorrow-breathing lyre,
All the rich music of its strings,
In vivid feelings the low notes shall rise,
And mix their numbers with self-doubting sight!

And tho' the momentary strain
May feebly touch thy finer ear,
The tribute shall not flow in vain,
Which springs to truth and virtue dear;
For then ingenious merit heeds the lays,
Nor spurns at ought but unappropriate praise.

E'en while a world's life-giving charm
Bids thy pale Andre's closing breath
Revive, amid thy colours warm,
And triumph o'er opprobrious Death'
And while that world may bid thy genius charm
The power to blazon Cook's immortal name;

Or, whilst the universal voice
Shall hail thee the enthusiast's child,
To whom, delighting in her choice,
Nature unveil'd her pictures wild,
And in Louisa flash'd along the lyre,
"A soul all fancy, and an eye all fire;"

Lo! Gratitude shall prompt the song;
And in the plauding Poet sing—
In sooth, the least of all the throng
That rise on the poetic wing,
Yet not regardless of his destin'd way,
If Seward's envied sanction stamp the lay.