1836 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Robert Southey

Richard Polwhele, "Dedication and Sonnets" Reminiscences in Prose and Verse (1836) 1:v-vii.



TO ROBERT SOUTHEY, Esq.
Will you suffer me, my dear Sir, to introduce to you my "Reminiscences" by two Sonnets for their heralds; — which, though they feebly express my sense of your literary eminence, may yet merit the acceptance due to sincerity? I fear not, indeed, the imputation of flattery, when I say, that your country is indebted to you for honours — "to set at nought the trophies of war" — as reflected from the first of Poets and the most amiable of men!
For the "Reminiscences," I shall only add, that as the effusions (perhaps the hallucinations) of old age, whose "strength is but labour and sorrow," they may have some little claim to indulgence; and, I am sure, appealing to your candour, will have "their claim allowed."
I remain,
Most respectfully and cordially yours,
R. POLWHELE.
Polwhele House, near Truro,
April, 1836.

I.
Whilst others wander down their dusky dells,
Pleas'd with the melodies of tinkling rills,
Or scoop dim grots or saunter round green hills,
Or climb the hedges sprent with sweet harebells,
Or mark, where hamlets crown the misty vale,
The plodding peasant and the milkmaid's pail;—
I greet Thee midst thy mountains and thy falls,
Thy sea-like lakes, thy rocks by thunders riven,
Thy cataracts flashing to the effulgent Heaven!
Such is thy scene of grandeur! — We, frail men,
Trill to the lowly grove the inglorious lay,
In concert with the redbreast and the wren:
'Tis thine, with the majestic eagle's sway
Soaring on rapid wing, to drink the golden day!

II.
Yes! to puruse thy empyrean flight
Impetuous as the bird of Jove, be thine!
Thy own Urania speeds through realms of light
Thy lordly course! But, loved by all the Nine,
Clio for thee unfolds heroic views;
For thee Thalia wreathes her pastoral shrine.
And hark! — the sorrows of a sister-muse
Sigh with thy sighs, and tremble in thy tear!
I, too, my friend! — I too — have lost a child,—
More — more than one, to love and duty dear!—
But, doom'd to droop along life's darkling wild,
I have no lute of power my spirit to cheer!
If there yet linger some faint lullabies—
Ah! not to soothe my heart, each quivering cadence dies!