1801 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Sir James Bland Burges

Thomas Dermody, "On Reading Richard the First, a Poem" Monthly Mirror 11 (February 1801) 78.



Lo! from the ruins of the mighty dead,
Once more, the English Genius lifts her head!
BRITAIN, once more, with partial transport views
Th' appropriate honors of the Epic Muse!
Oft has the fervour of her genuine flame
Illum'd the Theban or the Spartan name;
Lending, with liberal grace, to chiefs unknown,
Immortal wreaths, and laurels not their own:
While the brave worthies of this favour'd clime
Lay clouded in some legendary rhyme,
Whose quaint inanity presum'd to raise
A lasting theme in mockery of praise.
Not so, with unaffected spendour bright,
Meets they First Richard our enraptur'd sight,
Emerging from Oblivion's central shade,
In all the majesty of verse array'd.
Oh! would the heirs of dignified retreat;
So, by soft sanction, tenderly impart
A new-born lustre to the tuneful art;
Still might I hope, intent on high emprize,
To see a DORSET, or a SYDNEY rise!
The hope is vain: — that gen'rous glow divine,
Which breathes in harmony from breasts like thine;
That soaring spirit, which disdains to creep
Round the smooth base of the PARNASSIAN steep—
But, hurry'd with the whirlwind's force along,
Grasps the rough summit of sublimest song;
Where shall I seek, mid that degen'rate band,
Who slight the beauties of their native land?
For foreign flowers, of short duration, sigh,
And scorn those hardier blooms, that never die,
Nurs'd by the rigours of our northern sky.
To thy auspicious star we fondly turn,
Whose steadier rays, aloft, distinctly burn,
To light the minstrel through Life's stormy main,
Or guide the banish'd Muses back again—
Here, safe at length, to rest their pilgrim-feet,
And claim their old, hereditary seat.