1751 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Thomas Gray

Musaphil, "To the Author of an Elegy, supposed to have been written in a Country Churchyard" London Advertiser (13 March 1751).



To thee, Sylvander, and thy pensive Muse,
That rightly warbles forth the dulcet Strain:
Whilst only Philomel her Notes pursues,
And follows vanquish'd o'er the silent Plain,

This Lay belongs — But ah! th' Attempt how fond,
To copy Numbers chaste and soft as thine,
Where Thought and Phrase so sweetly correspond,
And Charms ineffable adorn each Line!

Were I, like thee, a Fav'rite of the Grove,
By ev'ry Dryad, ev'ry Muse inspir'd;
Endow'd with Pow'r, the glowing Heart to move,
And skill'd to sing the Beauties I admir'd:

Then should'st thou be the Subject of my Verse,
"At once my bright Example, and my Theme,"
Then would I strive thy Merits to rehearse,
To every list'ning Naid of the Sream!

Teach me, great Bard! oh teach thy magic Art,
Of captivating Souls a thousand Ways;
That I may spread my Zeal thro' ev'ry Heart,
And whilst I 'plaud, exemplify thy Lays!

Wake oft thy Lyre! and may it never sleep,
If but thy Tuning such sweet Music brings,
What may we hope, when you, determin'd, sweep,
And (bent on charming) strike its golden Strings!

Be't thine to harmonize this barbarous Age,
And while thou feed'st it, its true Taste restore:
We shall forget, when we peruse thy Page,
That Pope is dead, and Mason sings no more!