1810 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Mary Russell Mitford

William Herbert, "To Miss Mitford" 1810; L'Estrange, Life of Mary Russell Mitford (1870) 1:83-84.



Fair nymph, my Arctic harp, unstrung,
Mute on the favorite pine is hung;
No beam awakes the airy soul
Which o'er its chords wild warbling stole;
No more I cull the flowers that blow
Deep bosom'd in Halcya's snow;
The sweets to infant Science dear,
First offerings of the Northern year,
Which, opening with new charms, appear'd
On the rude lap of Nature rear'd;
Nor those which, pluck'd with nicest care,
Adorn'd fair Hafnia's* mildest air,
Transplanted from their wintry shore,
And, nurs'd by antiquarian lore,
To raise once more the drooping head,
And Nature's wildest fragrance spread.

Oh night of horror, when the blow
Which should have smote a crested foe,
Laid that calm bower of Science low!
Peace to the souls of those who bled
For England, to their ruin led!
Peace to the honored limbs that lie
Shrouded by fruitless victory!
———*———*———*———
Thou, tuneful maid, thy ardent song
Shall tell of Hafnia's bitter wrong:
Thy pen has force with magic word
To blast the fierce-consuming sword.
Fear not poetic fire alone
Is thine to warm a breast of stone;
But thou hast quaffed the purest rays
That round the patriot's forehead blaze:
And gentlest as thy feelings flow,
Alive to sympathy of woe,
Awake to all the tender charms
That lie embowered in Nature's arms;
Yet did thine opening judgment learn
Man's noblest nature to discern,
To bless the self-devoted hand
That falls to save its native land,
To own the majesty of Right,
But curse the fell destroyer's might.
March 29, 1810.

* Copenhagen.