1734 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. James De La Cour

J. Thompson [not James Thomson], "To Mr. James Dalacourt in Ireland; upon his Prospect of Poetry" London Magazine 3 (November 1734) 597-98.



Hail gently-warbling Dalacourt, whose fame,
Spurning Hibernia's solitary coast,
Where small rewards attend the tuneful throng,
Pervades Britannia's well discerning isle;
In spite of all the gloomy minded tribe
That wou'd eclipse thy merit. — shall the muse,
High soaring o'er the tall Parnassian mount,
With spreading pinions, sing thy wond'rous praise,
In strains attun'd to the seraphic lyre,
Sing unappall'd, tho' mighty be the theme?
O cou'd she in thy own harmonious strain,
Where softest numbers smoothly-flowing glide
In trickling cadence; where the milky maze
Devolves in silence; by the harsher sound
Of hoarser periods, still unruffl'd could
Her lines but like thine own Euphrates flow?
Then might she sing in numbers worthy thee.
But what can language do, when fancy finds
Herself unequal to the lovely task;
Can feeble words thy vivid colours paint,
Or show the sweets which inexhausted flow?

Hearken ye woods, and long resounding groves,
Listen ye streams, soft purling thro' the meads,
And hymning horrid, all ye tempests roar;
Awake ye woolands, sing, ye warbling larks
In wildly-luscious notes; but most of all
Attend ye grateful fair, attend the youth
Who sweetly sings of nature and of you:
From you alone his conscious breast expects
Its soft rewards, by sordid love of gain
Unbiass'd, undebas'd; to meaner Minds
Belong such narrow views; his nobler soul
Transported with a gen'rous thirst of fame,
Sublimely rises with expanded wings,
And thro' the lucid Empyrean soars.
So the young eagle wings its rapid way
Thro' heaven's broad azure; sometimes springs aloft,
Now drops, now cleaves, with even-waving wings
The yielding air, nor seas nor mountains stop
Its flight impetuous, gazing at the sun
With irretorted eyes, whilst he pervades
A trackless void, and unexplor'd before.

Long had the curious trav'ler strove to find
The ruins of aspiring Babylon
In vain — for nought the nicest eye could trace,
Save one wide wat'ry undistinguish'd waste:
But you with more than magick art have rais'd
Semiramis's city from its grave;
You have revers'd the Scripture curse, which said,
Dragons shall here inhabit; in your page
We view the rising spires, the hurried eye
Distracted wanders thro' the verdant maze;
In middle air the pendent gardens hang,
Tremendous cieling — whilst no solar beam
Falls on the lengthen'd gloom beneath; the woods
Project above a steep alluring shade;
The finish'd garden opens to the view
Wide-stretching vista's, whilst the whispering wind
Dimples along the breezy-ruffled lake.
Now ev'ry tree irregular, and bush
Are prodigal of harmony; the birds
Frequent th' aerial woods, and nature blushes
Asham'd to find herself outdone by art:
These, and a thousand beauties cou'd I sing,
Collecting like the ever-toiling bee
From yonder mingled wilderness of flowers
The aromatick sweets: while you, great youth,
O'er thy decaying country chief preside;
Be thou her genius call'd, inspire her youth
With noble emulation to arrive
At Helicon's fair font, whom few, alas!
Save you, have tasted, of Hibernian youth.
Thy country, tho' corrupted, brought thee forth
And deems her greatest ornament; and now
Regards thee as her brightest northern star.
Long may you reign as such, and shou'd grim time
With iron teeth deprive us of our Pope,
Then we'll transplant thy blooming laurels fresh
From your bleak shore to Albion's happier coast.