1785 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Thomas Warton

Anonymous, "The Birthday Ode. (The Second Edition) with Alterations and Amendments" Public Advertiser (3 June 1785).



I.
Amid the thunders of the lyre,
Nonsense oft glares with dusky fire
Proud to her sons her bays bequeaths
For well-known names her garland wreaths;
Bids haughty Genius all her triumphs own;
When spoils of murder'd Sense elate she brings,
To celebrate the births of happy Kings,
And deck her chosen throne.
On that fair throne, to Nonsense dear,
With weeds of indolence entwin'd,
Each year of peace she hangs the spear;
And there with her own poppies all combin'd,
Her just-selecting hands the honour'd trophy rear;
For sack bestow'd, her happiest theme,
The nymph her grateful homage pays;
To G—, whence flows the gift supreme,
She maudlin wishes length of days,
And gives the tipsy tribute of her lays.

II.
'Twas his to bid a Whitehead' genius glow;
With nice discernment still his bounties flow;
Snatch'd from the dark obscure, his sway,
Dull, cringing laureats thus obey,
And hail their genial King:
He not commands to judgment's line
Their flights fantastic to confine,
Nor e'er controuls their wing:
Her flitting forms bid Nonsense ne'er restrain;
Ne'er bind unconscious sense within her brazen chain.—
Her lot whilst hapless Genius mourns,
Exulting Dullness stalks her ample round;
Bids Insipidity awake the sound,
And pour the tinkling stream from all her urns.
In sweetest namby-pambys told
The well-wrought stanza's thus advance,
With Homer stalk — with Pindar prance;
Or with Macpherson's dignity along are roll'd.

III.
He on such his gifts bestows;
His bounty these display;
And whilst around his pearls he throws,
Grunt in poetic unison with Wray.
'Twas thus that Colley gain'd renown,
Wafted thus by favour's gale,
On Eusden's brows the laurell'd crown,
The Taylor's of that day turn'd pale.
In vain probationary powers arise,
Or Arden's hopes combine;
Conspicuous in too partial eyes,
The favour'd Warton shines.
Thus chosen fair poetry to raise,
And give — the annual crop of praise
To foster Inspiration's flame,
And build of Odes th' unperishable fame.
Oh! born in birth-day song to teach,
Be this thy constant aim,
—With fond ambition ne'er to reach
What ne'er thy powers can claim.