1693 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Samuel Wesley

Luke Milbourne, "To the Ingenious Mr. Samuel Wesley on his Poem of the Life of Christ" Wesley, The Life of our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ (1693) sig. b3-b3v.



Redeem'd? It's true; the happy Muse no more
Can her Egyptian slavish Chains deplore;
No more shall spurious Gods or Heroes rais'd
In pow'rful Numbers, be devoutly Prais'd;
Verse form'd 'em Idols, while Immortal Verse
Wou'd Fancy's Dreams in weighty Lines rehearse;
Perverted Poetry cou'd with ease controul
The wiser Passions of the thoughtful Soul;
And into Mischiefs force the Passive Throng,
Hurry'd by the impetuous Witchcraft of deluding Song.
Thy Muse, a Convert made, in nobler Strains
Sings that great God who in himself contains
This spacious ALL, whose active Word commands
The Prince of Idols with his gloomy Bands
Down to those Deeps, where endless Torture dwells,
Beneath the solid darkness of a thousand Hells.
God's and his David's Son, the wond'rous Heir
Of Heav'n and Earth, thy tuneful Rhimes declare:
No Man of Sorrows now, nor meanly Crown'd
With blushing Thorns, nor barbarous Fetters bound;
But in immense Eternal Brightness plac'd,
With all his Fathers ancient Glories grac'd;
Great, Pure, Immortal, always Blest, Sublime,
Before the first, beyond the last of Time;
Where to the Name of their triumphant King,
Hymns sweet as Thyme, extatick Angels sing.
What poor Evangelists prescrib'd of old,
And studious Priests still to their Flocks unfold;
Was, till of late, by pious Crowds admir'd,
Their Tales Authentick as their Minds Inspir'd;
Now Damn'd as plain and low, tho' mystick all,
Truth must before the Dagon Nonsense fall.
A dull lewd Song to Celia dubs the Wit,
When, with his Title proud, the senseless Chit
Defies his Maker, and his Dictates scorns,
And Heav'n to ridicule and banter turns:
Truth for his Fancy must be gayly drest,
Like the May Lady at some Country Feast.
In thy smooth Verse stands that unchanging Truth,
With Beauties varnish'd and adorn'd with Youth;
Drest in Poetick robes of Flame and Light,
Pleasant as Morning, and as Mid-day bright;
Thy Verse may Charm him who the Preacher flies,
Reform the Brute, and make the Senseless Wise.
So when a Devil malignant Saul possest,
And broke the quiet of his tortur'd Breast;
When Rage and Folly in his Thoughts combin'd,
Diseas'd his Body, and disturb'd his Mind;
His Harp the gay Jessean Psalmist strung,
And to his Harp some sacred Anthem sung;
So smooth his Voice, so swift his flying Hand
Did trembling Notes and chiding Strings command;
So much of Heav'n did the black Spirit confound,
Nor cou'd his Hell support the charming sound;
But from his Throne the proud Usurper flew,
While Musicks Terrors did his flight pursue,
And Saul's rebellious Thoughts and inward Rage subdue.

Sic puer Elkanides Domini resupinus in Aede
Summissa aethereos excipit aure sonos,
Afflatuque sacro Divinos concipit Ignes,
Et subito in vatum proruit Ipse modos:
Tu, Juvenis, rapis Arma prior, Musasque profanas
In pia Christicolum, maxime, castra refers.
Macte animis Wesleie tuis, repetitaque Christi,
Gesta subacta magis pensa secunda dabunt.