1786 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Thomas Warton

Bryan Waller, "To the Rev. Thomas Warton, B. D., in imitation of Hor. Lib. 4. Od. 2" Morning Post and Daily Advertiser (27 December 1786).



O WARTON! sure th' attempt were bold,
What Mortal of unhallow'd mould,
Presumptuous should essay,
With feeble pinion to explore
That radiant tract where Gray before
Pursu'd his sacred way.

Like a rich Torrent rolls along
Gray's mighty energy of song;
Now roves thro' myrtle bow'rs—
Now fills apace the lyric strain—
Hark! — now tremendous roars amain,
And big with horror pours.

Pale and aghast with mild dismay,
The tyrant Edward hears the lay
Pour'd on his host below;
Old Snowdon feels th' indignant vow,
He feels, and bends his clouded brow
Upon the guilty foe.

Soul of our trembling passions he!
Whether to joyous minstrelsy,
He waken young desire;
Or with an abler flight, sublime,
He brave the dark confines of time,
And sweep the mystic lyre.

O Warton! 'twas a master's skill
That lately rul'd the Theban quill,
Too soon, alas! resign'd.
Extinct in death our vital flames,
Poets themselves can but their names
Immortal leave behind.

For me, content with humble views,
At Granta I indulge my muse
In literary ease;
Control each stormy wish to rest,
Respect myself, and my own breast
Am studious how to please.

But when loud plaudits rend the skies,
Sabean odours circling rise,
And grateful influence shed;
When mounts to heav'n the public voice,
To show'r down favours on their choice,
And bless the regal head:

Thine be the honour'd task to raise
The tribute of immortal praise
On GEORGE'S natal Morn;
Thine to futurity to give
His virtues, and to bid them live
To ages yet unborn.

Confounded lie the Belgic bands,
Perfidious Bourbon lifts his hands
For mercy on his crimes;
Reviving Commerce smiles again,
The British Ensign rules the main,
And visits barbarous climes.