1814 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Sir Walter Scott

Anonymous, in Modern Parnassus; or, The new Art of Poetry, a Poem (1814) 20-22.



But oh the joy each lab'ring bosom feels,
When some kind Bard a wondrous tale reveals,
Of lovely maidens and of sighing swains,
Of rival chieftains and ensanguin'd plains.
If with no vulgar flight thou mean to soar
To heights of glory none have reach'd before,
To ravish kingdoms with thy promis'd strain,
While Censure rails and Envy pines in vain;
This is the secret, this the art sublime,
Ye Minstrels hear me — novels penn'd in rhyme.
Who, midst a hero's dying groans, inquires
If Art adorns the lay, or Wit inspires?
What heart, o'erpower'd with weeping Beauty's woe,
Can coldly question how the numbers flow?
In soft repose, th' unconscious Judgment sleeps,
While Wonder gazes, or while Pity weeps.
E'en those, whose rough and barb'rous natures long
Despis'd the Muse, and spurn'd her sweetest song,
Whose savage mood not Shakspear's self could tame;
Now sooth'd to softness, own their former shame.
Won by thy tale, they join the list'ning train,
Honour the minstrel and applaud the strain.