1808 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Wordsworth

Richard Mant?, in The Simpliciad (1808) 11-21.



Thine was the song: — thine is the song that wakes
Echo, whose birth the cuckoo cannot tell,
Tho' that 'tis the sound the bird must know full well;
Where Poets, dozing in lethargic dream,
Such as may Fancy's wayward sons beseem,
Entwine each random weed, that charms their eye,
To hang on wildly-staring Poesy:
Poets, who fix their visionary sight
On Sparrow's eggs in prospect of delight,
With fervent welcome greet the glow-worm's flame,
Put it to bed and bless it by its name;
Hunt waterfalls, that gallop down the hills:
And dance with dancing laughing daffodills;
Or measure muddy ponds from side to side,
And find them three feet long and two feet wide:
Poets with brother donkey in the dell
Of mild equality who fain would dwell
With brother lark or brother robin fly,
And flutter with half-brother butterfly;
To woodland shades with liberty repair,
And scorn with pious sneer the House of Pray'r:
Of apostolic daisies learn to think,
Draughts from their writs of true devotion drink:
Woo with fond languishment their chymic maids,
Pray for the Spaniards, consecrate their spades;
Whine o'er tatter'd cloaks and ragged breaches,
And moralize with gatherers of leeches.
Boast of New Bond-street, and St. Paul's Church-yard,
With "Lyric Ballads" many a gentle Bard,
Proud of gilt cover, with engravings grac'd,
Courts of mammas and aunts the curious taste.
'Tis theirs with greater than the Doctor's skill,
To make by night the screaming infant still;
Or, welcoming day with some melodious air,
Wash his nice hands, and comb his shining hair,
To story old of Gaffer Grumble's wig,
Dame Hubbard's dog, and Betty Pringle's pig.
A simple tale these artless bards rehearse;
The ditty simple, simple is the verse;
But ah! in vain — for know a simpler lay
Wrests from their grasp the nursery prize away!