1726 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Elijah Fenton

Anonymous, "To Mr. Fenton, on his Tragedy of Mariamne" D. Lewis, Miscellaneous Poems by Several Hands (1726) 124-26.



Accept, great Bard, the Tribute of my Praise;
Tho' tuneless be my Voice, and rude my Lays:
With thy ambrosial Banquet, Heav'nly Food!
My Soul replete, breaks forth in Gratitude:
How ardent are the Transports which I feel!
Nor Words can paint them, nor my Heart conceal.

Where-e'er thy fruitful Genius leads the Way,
My Passions, of thy Guidance proud, obey;
From Grief to Joy, from Rage to tender Love,
In exquisite Variety I rove.
Now I am rapt into the gloomy Glade,
Where flits before my Eyes the Princely Shade;
Perseus I see, from Regal Grandeur tost,
And all the Macedonian Glories lost.
With bright Arsinoe's Joys my Soul dilates,
When Constancy subdues her adverse Fates.
When for her darling Child her Tears o'erflow
I Sympathize in Mariamne's Woe.
Ev'n Herod, tho' by Usurpation great,
Tho' fell Destruction stalk'd around his State,
Tho' Royal Asmonean Blood he shed,
Nor lamblike Innocence his Fury fled;
When drawn by Thee, when passing thro' thy Hands,
Suspends our Anger, and our Tears demands:
With Pity we behold his wild Excess,
And moan the Savage Tyrant's deep Distress.

Let the mean Wretch enjoy his sordid Hire,
To Venal Poetry who strings his Lyre;
Pleas'd with th' ignoble Fame of one short day,
And then in dark Oblivion fades away;
Content a partial faint Applause to raise,
And hazard all his Store of labour'd Praise.
Thou soar'st a higher Pitch, thy sacred Verse
Posterity with Raptures shall rehearse:
A perfect Model thy great Work shall stand,
In every Language, and in every Land.

Thus the vain Libertine his Time destroys
In riotous Debauch, and sensual Joys;
In short-liv'd ignominious Pleasure rowls,
Trifling his Span of Life o'er flowing Bowls.
But the true Heroe glows with pious Rage,
Treads with Neglect this transitory Stage;
To nobler Views transfers his just Regard,
Eternity and Heav'n his Aim and his Reward.