1808 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Robert Southey

Anna Seward, "Verses written in the Blank Leaves of Southey's Madoc" The Examiner (6 November 1808) 717.



Reader, if instant thy soul-lighted eyes
Perceive the claims of GENIUS as they rise,
Welcome this noblest effort of the NINE,
To deck with Epic wreath their English shrine;
Since there they rose, to emulate, at length,
The Mantuan sweetness, the Meonian strength,
And our green vales and silver shores along
Pour'd Eden's grand, imperishable song.

Again, in all their pomp, they strike the lyre,
Rapid and glowing with primeval fire;
Each human interest with each grace divine
Of rapt imagination, where she soars
From common Talent's flat and glimmering shores,
Her lamp to illumine at that orbit prime
Whose fires are quenchless by the floods of time.

Thus, for the glory of the nineteenth age,
The EPIC MUSE awakes her sacred rage;
In no false ornaments her numbers shine,
The diamonds sparkle genuine from the mine.
What harmonies our captive ear engage!
What living landscapes glow in every page!
What characters, in nature's subtlest aid,
On Cimbric regions and on Indian shores
Call to the EPIC VERSE the DRAMA'S powers!

Mark the bold thoughts with truth and virtue beam,
Shewing what GOD shall judge and CHRIST redeem!
Th' Asbestos robe which the chaste style arrays,
Impassive shield from envy's lurid blaze,
There simple, nervous, as in early time,
Where plaintive, touching, and where rais'd, sublime.

If thou remembrest thro' how many a year
Deaf as the grave was found the general ear
To VERSE, whose fame is now the NATION'S cause,
With scarce one voice appellant from her laws;
How long the owlish orb of general sight
Found mist and darkness in excessive light;
If, conscious of each grandeur and each grace,
The POET'S sun-track thy clear vision trace;
If thy heart throb to see thy native land,
The Muses proudest eminence command;
And if thy spirit o'er such glorious lays
Wait not for tardy precedents to praise;
Then, reader, then with me, for MADOC claim
With voice anticipant, the palm of Fame.
And on each leaf, with patriot pride, descry
The bursting germs of IMMORTALITY.

Such minds, where never envy's cloud appears,
See MADOC buoyant on the tide of years;
Float, like the song which left the mortal maze
For scenes "where Angels tremble while they gaze,"
And, touched alike by GENIUS solar ray,
Vanquish oblivion and maintain the DAY.