1814 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

James Thomson

George Noble, ploughman, "Ode to the Anniversary of Thomson's Birthday, held at Ednam on Thursday, Sept. 22" Morning Chronicle (6 October 1814).



Beyond the Cheviot mountains high,
Behold again the annual morn,
Soft dawning o'er th' autumnal sky,
When Thomson, Nature's bard, was born:
'Twas then the Muse with rapture smil'd,
And flung her mantle o'er the child,
And view'd with joy the lambent ray
Of heaven-born genius round him play;
While she the youthful Poet led,
Along the sylvan banks of Jed;
Bade Nature's beauties charm his ardent soul,
As in succession round the varying seasons roll.

When the mild call of genial Spring,
Bids the fair flowers and leaves expand,
And zephyrs light, on playful wing,
Breathe soft along the smiling land,
O'er blooming Nature's wide domain,
Afar he swell'd the dulcet strain,
Fair in his song, creation round
Arose, with vernal beauty crown'd;
While, born on amber pinions bright,
Love sheds o'er all his purple light;
Deludes the youth with soft seductive wile,
Or on domestic life bestows its happier smile.

Now high in Heaven with fervid heat,
Refulgent glows the summer sun;
He, to the woodland's cool retreat,
Retires, the scorching ray to shun;
There the bright season to display,
Again he wakes the mighty lay,
In strains sublime, while rolling loud
The thunder peals from yonder cloud,
With terror seized, the timid maid,
Close to her lover clings for aid,
While wing'd with fate the vollied lightning flies,
Struck in his folding arms the destined victim dies.

But see, where o'er the fertile plain,
Kind Autumn spreads his bounteous stores;
Rich wave the fields with golden grain,
And plenty round profusely pours.
Now, busy o'er the teeming lands,
Behold the jovial reaping bands
Cut down the yellow treasure fair,
Behind the gleaners pick their share.
With vivid tints to Nature true,
The joyous scene his fancy drew,
Poured forth his song, soft as the Western gale,
And charm'd each feeling heart with young Lavinia's tale.

Erewhile majestic on the storm,
He with sublime sensations saw
Stern Winter's dark terrific form,
On clouds condensed round Ruberslaw.
While the careering tempest flies
Impetuous through the murky skies,
On high his notes resounding soar,
Responsive of the whirlwind's roar:—
Anon — borne on the northern gale,
In mournful accents now they sail,
And bear along with plaintive wail
O'er the wild heath the hapless traveller's woe,
Who, far from home, expires beneath the drifted snow.

And now by sacred liberty
Inspir'd, he swells the exalted strain,
Or bids Britannia's heroes fly
To arms, her honour to maintain!
Then, borne on philosophic wing,
To Newton's mem'ry strikes the string,
While his lov'd patron claims the tear,
Sacred to worth and friendship dear—
Now, hark! his magic numbers swell,
'Mid bowers where Indolence doth dwell;
While round in soothing murmurs fly
The breeze-waked harp's soft symphony.
And now the tragic Muse inspires the song,
With scenes of soft distress to melt the list'ning throng.

Sweet Poet of the circling year!
Sad for thy death did Scotia mourn,
And still for thee the filial tear
She sheds o'er thy respected urn;
And bids her generous sons entwine,
The verdant laurel round thy shrine.
Meanwhile thy chaste and moral page
Shall be rever'd through every age,
And point the radiant path you trod,
"Through Nature, up to Nature's God;"
This is the noblest Monument of Fame!
And stampt with Virtue's seal eternal to thy name.