1700 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John Oldham

Samuel Cobb, in Poetae Britannici (1700) 17-18.



Among these sacred and immortal Names,
A Youth glares out, and his just honour Claims;
See, Circling Fires, instead of Laurel, play
Around his Head, and Sun the brighten'd way.
But misty Clouds of unexpected Night,
Cast their black Mantle o'er th' immoderate Light.
In her moist Grave the fainting Day's opprest,
And Oldham lies extinguish'd in his West.
Here, pious Muse, lament a while, 'tis just
We pay some Tribute to his Sacred Dust.
O'er his fresh Marble strow the fading Rose
And Lily, for his Youth resembled those.
The brooding Sun took care to dress him gay,
In all the Trappings of the flowry May.
He set him out unsufferably bright,
And sow'd in every part his Beamy Light.
Th' unfinish'd Poet budded forth too soon,
For what the Morning warm'd, was scorch'd at Noon.
Did not the Laws of Fame so hard appear,
To thriving Youth unseas'nably severe,
What prodigies, what wonders had we seen,
In his late Autumn, when a Muse so green
Could Homer praise, and Johnson's happy toil,
While Horace ripen'd in the British soil?
His careless Lines plain Nature's Rules obey,
Like Satyrs, rough; but not deform'd as they.
His Sense undrest, like Adam, free from blame,
Without his Cloathing, and without his shame.
True Wit requires no Ornaments of skill,
A Beauty naked, is a Beauty still.
Heated with rage, he lash'd the Romish Crimes,
In rugged Satyr, and ill-sounding Rhymes.
All Italy fear'd his imbitter'd Tongue,
And trembled less when sharp Lucilius stung.

Here let us pass in Silence, nor accuse,
Th' extravagance of his unhallow'd Muse.
In Jordan's Stream she wash'd the tainted Sore,
And rose more beauteous than She was before.
Then Fancy curb'd, began to lose her Rage,
And Spark's of Judgment glimmer'd in his Page.
When the wild Fury did his breast inspire,
She rav'd, and set the Little World on Fire.