1789 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Joseph Cooper Walker

Samuel Whyte, "To Joseph Cooper Walker, Esq." European Magazine 15 (June 1789) 493-94.



With keen research and penetrating eyes,
While you pervade the shades where science lies,
And, vers'd in ancient and historic lore,
The manly records of our Sires explore;
Their customs, manners, habits, language trace;
To truth add lustre, and to wisdom grace;
The hidden treasures of times past unfold,
And even their very dross transmute to gold:
While thus, when crowds, at time and health's expence,
Provoke derision, you exalt your sense,
The veil of dark antiquity remove,
Our minds irradiate, and our taste improve;
And, fill'd with patriot zeal, the deeds rehearse
Of Chieftains mighty and renown'd in verse.
I, to a Bard's great name who can't aspire,
Smit with congenial feelings, touch the lyre;
Call'd forth by thee my voice impartial raise,
Less to record than testify thy praise;
Thy own rich page from imperfection free,
Embalms thy fame and needs no aid from me.
Oh, had I leisure for the bold design,
And talents ample as the theme were mine,
Not thy bright name alone the charter'd band
That bless with Learning's beams their native land,
And gave her claim among the Nations birth,
The last in effort tho' not least in worth,
Should all, if minstrelsy distinction give,
While truth with merit dwells, applauded live:
But, worn with toil and circumscrib'd in time,
Ill suits my lot the laurel'd haunts of rhyme.
Tho' fancy sometimes flutt'ring on the wing,
Tempts my rash hand the soothing harp to string,
In ceaseless tumults each vibration drown'd,
Emits, if any, but a feeble sound.
Some happier genius hence for song admir'd,
May catch the hint, and, as of old inspir'd,
To distant ages make the worthies known,
And with his country's glory fix his own.
Here all my hopes and my ambition end,
Suffice it me to be approv'd thy FRIEND.
Dublin, Grafton-street,
April 10, 1789.