1782 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Samuel Johnson

Anonymous, "An Ancient Prophetical Inscription, lately discovered near Lynn in Norfolk. Translated out the Original Norfolk Ryme. By Samuel Johnson, L.L.D. To Posterity" Public Advertiser (9 January 1782).



Whene'er this Stone, now hid beneath the Lake,
The Horse shall trample, or the Plough shall break;
Then, O my Country! shalt thou groan distrest,
Grief swell thine Eyes, and Terror chill thy Breast.
Thy Streets with Violence of Woe shall sound,
Loud as the Billows bursting on the Ground.
Then through thy Fields shall scarlet Reptiles stray,
And Rapine and Pollution mark their Way.
Their hungry Swarms the peaceful Vale shall fright,
Still fierce to threaten, still afraid to fight;
The teeming Year's whole Produce shall devour,
Insatiate pluck the Fruit, and crop the Flow'r:
Shall glutton on th' industrious Peasant's spoil,
Rob without Fear, and fatten without Toil.
Then o'er the World shall Discord stretch her Wings,
Kings change their Laws, and Kingdoms change their Kings.
The Bear enrag'd the affrighted Moon shall dread,
The Lillies o'er the Vales triumphant spread;
Nor shall the Lion, wont of old to reign
Despotic o'er the desolated Plain,
Henceforth th' inviolable Bloom invade,
Or dare to murmur in the flow'ry Glade;
His tortur'd Sons shall die before his Face,
While he lies melting in a lewd Embrace;
And, yet more strange! his Veins a Horse shall drain,
Nor shall the passive Coward once complain.