1772 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John Dryden

Anonymous, in "Ode to Independence" Two Lyric Essays (1772) 18-20.



Ah why shouldst thou thy Gifts deny
To Sons of Verse and Harmony,
Thou chear'st alone the drooping Muse,
And canst sublimest Strains infuse
Into the high-enraptur'd Soul
Of Genius, spurning all Controul:
Ah why didst thou, unkind, disdain
To loose that fetter'd Bard, whose Strain
Flow'd strong and clear with Sense's Stream,
Reflecting Fancy's golden Beam,
Whose Lay, old Thames his Head would rear
Above the whisp'ring Reeds to hear,
And from the Coral Caves, the Sound
Would call the watry Nymphs around:
Such Magic had his tuneful Shell,
He might have charm'd the Dog of Hell,
And back from foul Avernus led,
Another of the dread Dead,
But a worse Fiend to charm had he,
The ruthless Maiden, Poverty,
Who oft those kindly Fires suppress'd,
That glow'd within the Poet's Breast:
By some lorn Stream, on grassy Pillow,
His Harp suspended on a Willow,
Reclin'd and pensive would he be,
And oft prefer his Prayer to thee:
Still was the Boon withheld by Fate,
Still curs'd he liv'd beneath the Great....