1773 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

George Lyttelton

John Tait, "Ode occasion'd by the Death of Lord Lyttelton" Scots Magazine 35 (October 1773) 541.



Parent of Fancy, Nature's child,
Fair source of smiles and laughing joy,
Whose pleasing numbers, sweetly wild,
Diffuse delights that ne'er can cloy:
Thy mirthful strains the heart can chear,
And dry Misfortune's falling tear.

But, ah! thy notes us'd to please,
Thy sprightly rays that warm'd the soul,
Thy mirthful numbers now must cease,
And Sorrow's plaintive strains must roll:
Affection now must string the lyre,
And heart-felt grief the verse inspire.

To HAGLEY-PARK the sister powers,
A mournful train, must now repair,
There visit all the sylvan bowers,
Rear'd by their fav'rite poet's care;
And as they wander thro' each grove,
With tears the planter's taste approve.

For he who oft with Fancy's song
The arbour's deepest shade has charm'd,
The bard whose numbers roll'd along,
By Raptures bright effusions warm'd,
No more shall soar on Fancy's wing,
Or boldly strike the sounding string.

What tho' he taught th' Historic page
To glow with Learning's sacred flame,
What tho' a half-forgotten age
From him acquires a deathless fame:
The joys of Learning now are o'er,
And Science warms his breast no more.

What tho' he oft with friendly hand
Was wont neglected Worth to raise,
Tho' Genius smil'd at his command,
And triumph's in his worthy praise:
His kind protection now must end,
And Genius droop without a friend.

What tho' at Virtue's shrine he bow'd,
And shar'd each pleasure she possest,
Tho' Friendship all her joys bestow'd,
And sweet Compassion fill'd his breast:
For all these virtues could not save
From the harsh tyrant of the grave?

Yet Virtue scorns the power of Death,
(For Virtue's flame can never die)
Virtue receives Fame's fairest wreath,
Virtue exalts the soul on high:
Hence LYTTELTON shall now receive
The joys which Heaven alone can give.

For with the mistress of his soul,
With lovely LUCY, now he strays,
Where gloomy cares no more controul,
Or check the ardor of his lays:
To her he pours the plaintive strain,
Which once express'd his earthly pain.

There with the friends his heart approv'd,
With THOMSON and with SHENSTONE blest,
And royal FREDERICK, much belov'd,
He tastes the joys of endless rest;
While Memory points at former years,
Where Life's delusive bliss appears.—

Tho' thus remov'd from mortal care,
Affection still must heave a sigh,
And Gratitude must drop a tear,
While the sad funeral passes by;
For Genius, bending o'er his hearse,
Demands a tributary verse.

Haste then, ye sisters-powers of song,
Some fav'rite poet's bosom fire,
Select him from the blissful throng,
Who strike with extasy the lyre:
Let BEATTIE'S Muse or MASON'S, pay
The tribute of a grateful lay.

Then shall the bard, whose feeble voice
Thus faintly pours the note of praise,
With transport hear the numbers rise,
Impell'd by Fancy's powerful blaze:
And thou, sweet Muse, at last shalt crown
My LYTTELTON with just renown.
Edinburgh, Sept. 3, 1773.