1824 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Sir Walter Scott

Whitelaw Ainslie, M. D., "Lyric Verses addressed to the Author of The Lady of the Lake" Morning Post (24 December 1824).



Awake! awake! thou Northern Bard,
And let again thy voice be heard,
On our now sorrowing shore;
Where all who hear adore
Thy soul-enlivening lay!
Why wilt thou, great one—lay
So long this silence keep?
So long let silent sleep
Thy minstrel harp? Ah how!
Flung on yon leafless bough,
Do poisonous damps assail,
And winter's merciless hail,
Beat harshly those lov'd strings,
Remembrance fondly brings,
To warm the wayward heart:
Strings which did erst impart,
A charm! No tuneless tales,
Howe'er in them prevails—
The master's magic skill,
Alike through good and ill,
Can ever, ever give;—
A charm which still must live,
Whilst Ellen's beauty reigns,
And Marmion's bolder strains,
Bring rapture to the ear!
Hast thou no lingering fear,
Lest Aeolus obtrude,
With fingers dank end rude,
And steal the Muse's gift?
Most impious were the theft!
Straight from the vacant sky
With well-feign'd melody,
Would he the treasure vaunt,
And mock thy loftier chaunt;
'Till every shepherd's lute,
'Till Pan himself grew mute,
And mourn'd that spirit cold,
Which swept the chords of old:
No! No! time soon will show,
When rolls thy mighty flow,
Thou can'st at will command!
'Tis best thy kindling hand
Can rouse to hope, to joy,
Can cankering care destroy,
With thy mellifluent lone,
And music all thine own!!

Resume, resume, thy powerful spell,
Thy hallow'd harp, thy sounding shell,
And leave to lesser men than thee,
The pride of Prose and Novelry.