1802 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Henry Boyd

Jessie Stewart, "To the Rev. Henry Boyd, A.M. on reading his Translation of Dante and Original Poems" 1802; Poetical Register for 1803 (1804) 101-05.



Hail, holy Minstrel of yon haunted shore,
Where heaven-taught bards the harp of Erin strung,
And youthful warriors in their halls of yore,
The mighty prowess of their fathers sung.

Those sons of song, bright beams of other days,
In purer worlds that glow, in light sublime;
Smite Heav'n's bold lyre responsive to thy lays,
Rising extatic from the shades of Time.

And oft when moonlight trembles on the seas,
While Midnight watches on her cloudy tower,
Soft aereal music floating on the breeze,
Wakes dreams of transport in thy classic bower.

For thee the voice of Arno's lovely vale
Pours hymns seraphic on the listening night,
While Heaven's pure breath in many a charmed gale,
Bears the wild minstrelsy of warm delight.

That voice was hushed, while dark oblivious gloom
Involved in night the Tuscan's bold design,
Till on his sacred, long deserted tomb,
Thou bad'st the torch of Fame immortal shine.

Ah! while it blazed to consecrate his grave,
Mysterious sounds in grateful numbers flowed,
Soft as the voice in Horeb's awful cave,
When the loud tempest fled the Mount of God.

On Glory's shrine, that braves involving night,
Where Genius burns a pure etherial flame,
In dazzling characters of living light,
Thy daring hand inscribed the poet's name.

'Tis thine to wake the long-resounding shell,
That hung for ages on his mouldering urn;
While raptured Fancy in her wizard cell,
Sees the past triumphs of her powers return.

Warming thy bosom with celestial fire,
Lo! the bright visions of the blest arise
To sounds harmonious as the seraph's lyre,
Hailing a kindred spirit to the skies.

In those pure dreams you saw the wand'rer hail
The long-loved vestal mid the realms of day,
Where silver clouds in broken columns sail,
O'er the blue mazes of the starry way.

On Heaven's proud towers, unshaken and sublime,
'Twas thine to mark the warm, primeval ray
That led the infant steps of rosy Time,
When Nature's temple shone in new-born day.

That beam withdrew from Earth's polluted sphere,
Back to its fount, eternal and divine,
Where the rapt spirits of empyreal air,
Hail Light's blest source with energies like thine.

The awful secrets of the world unknown,
Gave their deep horrors to thine ardent view,
While tortured Feeling heaved the labouring groan,
As fierce and red the bolts of Vengeance flew.

There frightful realms of tenor and dismay,
In vain essayed to chill thy dauntless soul,
Inspired of Heaven, you urg'd your venturous way,
Where billowy clouds in nameless horrors roll.

Shuddering yon scenes of endless woe! trace,
Where Chaos glimmers in the flash of hell,
While sickening Nature turns her horrent face,
To think that Life should in these dungeons dwell.

From those unfathom'd caverns of Despair,
Where righteous Justice pours avenging ire,
Again you pierce the dull malignant air,
Thick in the vapours of sulphureous fire.

With eagle-speed you wing your daring flight,
From Night's dark throne, where Stygian shadows lour,
To fire with beams of Heaven the dying light,
That faintly shone round Zion's distant tower.

And wondering mortals view the vivid beam
Ope brightening vistas through sepulchral gloom
While long-lost scenes reviving in the gleam,
Glow in the hues of ever-living bloom.

With thee I mark Eternal Power arrest,
In crystal mountains, Jordan's rolling wave,
While thrilling awe inspires the throbbing breast,
As way-worn armies tread his deepest cave.

While vengeance threatens from Uriah's tomb,
With thee I gaze on Salem's holy towers,
As Guilt distracted hears a murderer's doom,
Even in the gale that shook his roseate bowers.

These glorious pictures of unfading hue,
Eternal monuments of power sublime,
Thy magic hand in orient colours drew,
Glowing impervious to consuming Time.

While Fancy hovers o'er Eurotas' stream,
Red in the torrent of Messenian blood;
Again I hear wild Freedom's maniac scream,
When her sons perished on the roaring flood.

Again I hear the faint expiring groan,
While the soul struggled in the mangled form,
Of him who fell before her trembling throne,
While Spartan laurels withered in the storm.

These solemn sounds aroused my startled soul,
Like pealing thunder at the dead of night,
When o'er the hills the bursting tempests roll,
And awful grandeur marks the cloudy flight.

Prophetic dreams thy labouring bosom warm,
Of glorious days in Freedom's blissful reign,
When living fires shaft the cold bosom warm,.
Galled in Oppression's adamantine chain.

Oh bear these sounds, ye Zephyrs of the west,
Far o'er the ocean's proud tumultuous wave,
To sun-bright isles, where Nature groans opprest,
And drags the loathed existence of a slave.

O haste, ye airy wanderers of the sky,
And bear the minstrelsy of Erin's shore,
To wake the beaming blessing of the eye,
And bid the captive, Heaven's blest power adore.

Accept this lay — a faint response to thine,
Faint as when Echo hears an angel's hymn,
And tries in vain the melodies divine,
Borne by the wild winds to her caverns dim.
Edinburgh, Nov. 19, 1802.