1787 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Hayley

Elizabeth Sophia Tomlins, Dedication to The Victim of Fancy in Public Advertiser (19 January 1787).



Harmonious Bard, "of Britain's living choir,"
Whose skilful fingers touch the potent lyre;
Whose precepts, whilst they charm the soul, improve
And point each footstep to the goal you love;
Say, shall the candour of thy noble line,
Which says to Woman, "Poesy is thine;"
And bids, with dauntless aim the Female band
Pluck the green laurel from the Muse's hand—
Rest all unnotic'd by one grateful lay,
Unsung by those to whom you point the way?
And shalt thou, Hayley, whose melodious strain
Darts emulation thro' each glowing vein;
And fondly pays to fame and genius true,
The fair Comnena's shade, the tribute due;
Whilst thy fair pages female worth retrieve,
Shalt thou no tribute from the sex receive?
Yes — whilst with homage throb a thousand hearts,
Lo! from the throng the bold adventurer starts;
Her cheek yet wet with admiration's tears,
And awed by Genius, which her soul reveres,
From motives sacred as thy breast might own,
Her flowers she brings to thy poetic throne.
Simple and few, whilst at thy feet she strews
The warm effusions of a Female Muse;
She, from the raptures of a youthful heart,
Tho' not an artist, yet a friend to art;
Would mark how Woman venerates thy lays,
And trembling add, ennobled by thy praise,
A leaf of Myrtle to thy wreath of Bays.