1811 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Joseph Ritson

Anonymous, "Ode to Mr. Ritson, on his intended Descriptive Revision of the antient Ballad of Chevy Chase" Gentleman's Magazine 81 (June 1811) 568.



Fast from the Mountain-top retires
The crimson of day's setting fires,
On yonder spreading clouds to lie,
Till shade absorbs each brilliant dye.

Yet, left to the indulgent light
That silvers o'er the tinted night,
A warlike theme the bosom fills,
And grander rise the Cheviot Hills.

Far — far the lifted waste extends,
No tree romantic o'er it bends;
And a stretch'd course the eye pursues,
Check'd only by the floating dews.

Wert thou, discerning RITSON, near,
Thou wouldst the awful scene revere;
A scene made sacred by those rhymes,
Which thou mayst deck for latest times.

Thy fancy, from her store, would yield
A thousand shapes to throng the field;—
And sounds create of trampling steed,
Or arrow, wing'd with deathful speed;

And image all that strife anew,
When the bold PERCY and his Crew
Began a Fight "an hour ere noon,"
Which lasted till the midnight moon.

Still peasants to the hills repair,
And mark the spot with pensive air,
Where HOTSPUR, leaning on his brand,
Took wounded DOUGLAS by the hand.

Ah! sadly broke the morning ray,
When Chiefs and Vassals breathless lay;
And wives and babes, with sorrowing pace,
Sought thro' the field a kindred face!

On "biers of birch and hasell gray,"
They strove the last fond rites to pay;
And rustics, from the hamlets round,
Bedew'd with mourners' tears the ground.

Long — long the death-bell's heavy note
The ear of wilder'd sorrow smote;
Whilst Bards and Priests, amidst the throng,
By turns assum'd the hallow'd song.

With more than common spirit fir'd,
ONE MINSTREL from the rest retir'd,
And form'd the verse, which to repeat,
Made SIDNEY'S heart exulting beat.

Much to the Mitred Sage* is due;
RITSON, the liberal task pursue—
And CHEVY CHASE, the pride of yore,
With all its feudal spoils restore.

* Dr. Percy.