1712 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Ambrose Philips

Anonymous, "To the Author of the Distrest Mother. March the 26th, 1712" Steele, Poetical Miscellanies (1714) 230-31.



Long have the Writers of this Warlike Age
With human Sacrifices drench'd the Stage;
That scarce one Hero dares demand Applause,
'Till, welt'ring in his Blood, the Ground he gnaw'd;
As if, like Swans, they only could delight
With dying Strains, and, while they please, affright.

Our Philips, though 'twere to oblige the Fair,
Dares not destroy, where Horace bids him spare:
His decent Scene, like that of Greece appears;
No Deaths our Eyes offend, no Fights our Ears.
While he from Nature copies ev'ry Part,
He forms the Judgment, and affects the Heart.

Oft' as Andromache renews her Woe,
The Mothers sadden, and their Eyes o'erflow.
Hermoine, with Love and Rage possest,
Now sooths, now animates each Maiden Breast.
Pyrrhus, triumphant o'er the Trojan Walls,
Is greatly Perjur'd, and as greatly Falls.
Love, and Despair, and Furies are combin'd
In poor Orestes, to distract his Mind.

From first to last Alternate Passions reign;
And we resist the Poet's Will in vain.