1818 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Lord Byron

Chandos Leigh, in Poesy; a Satire (1818); The View and other Poems (1822) 57-58 &n.



Through you, through you, Corruption eats its way,
Consuming healthy hearts day after day;
Obscene male-syrens, ye can smile and smile,
And lead us to a precipice the while.
Ye cannot moderate your own desires,
Why fan in other breasts unhallow'd fires?
With what o'er-labouring zeal these Ovids toil
To fever up the passions till they boil? *
True Poesy is of celestial seed,
In former times she shew'd her noble breed;
Philosophy's fair mother, and her nurse,
Not the mere spawn of sentiment, or worse;
First-born of light, from Heaven Urania came,
To soothe the fierce affections, not inflame:
The fathers of the art were sure the best—
Mere servile imitators are the rest.

* There is a poet of the present day, whose exquisite satire, patriotism, beauty of imagery, and sweetness of versification; whose brilliant thoughts, as thick "as the gay motes that people the sunbeam," must delight all those who read his productions. Would to God that he had never lent a grace to vice. Well might he exclaim with Spenser—

Many lewd lays (ah, woe is me the more)
In praise of that mad fit which fools call love,
I have in heat of youth made heretofore;
That in rash wits did loose affections move.