1791 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Allan Ramsay

Ebenezer Picken, in The Laurel Disputed (1791) 8-9.



E'er yet his infant fingers touch'd the strings,
Or prov'd the pow'r of harmony, kind Heaven
Saw the young bud of genius bursting forth,
And smil'd indulgence. Soon the woods and plains
Retain'd the rural lay, and echo learn'd
The song. The blue-ey'd Naiads of the stream,
At setting summer eve were heard to sing
The Scottish sonnet; while the woodland nymph,
With tresses waving in the fanning breeze,
Chaunted the ballad as she skiff'd along.

Fame from Olympus with a laurel bough
Descends, and, with the glowing charm of song,
Fashions a wreath; the Muses smile applause;
And, while she, doubtful of the worthiest head,
Suspends the charm in view, Ramsay, enrapt
In all the flame of warm enthusiasm,
O'ertop'd the throng, and from her willing hand
Snatch'd down the waving honour.