1754 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Thomas Blacklock

An Unknown Hand, "To Mr. Thomas Blacklock, on the publication of his Poems" Scots Magazine 16 (February 1754) 94.



When some dull Lord to write in verse aspires,
With foolish face each sycophant admires;
To make his jargon pass for wit sublime,
Whole crouds of dunces pour forth floods of rhime.
But when true genius fires a lowly swain,
In silence, and unheeded flows his strain;
To own his merit envious wits refuse,
Nor in his praise is vocal any muse.
Mine scorning so to prostitute her lays,
Awakes her pow'rs to give true merit praise;
And, though a stranger, thinks this tribute due,
Not to a Lord, but, tuneful BARD, to you.

Thy soft harmonious verses while I read,
A thousand charms my admiration breed:
I feel such force thy compositions fire,
As only true born genius can inspire;
The purest taste in ev'ry period shine,
And all Apollo breath'd in ev'ry line.

In vain you mourn your eye-lids sunk in night,
While all within displays such radiant light,
Heav'n has, 'tis true, in darkness shut your days;
But gives, in recompence, immortal lays!
Condemn'd your orbs in endless shade to roll,
But pour'd the beams of wisdom on your soul!
A fate might fill with envy half mankind;
Whose eyes are open, but within are blind.
For what is sight? 'Tis not with lifeless gaze
To view the sun, or catch his falling rays;
With thoughtless stare to glance o'er earth and skies,
Or count the clouds. — To see, is to be wise.

HOMER and MILTON, each a godlike name,
Though dark, like you, have reach'd the height of fame:
Like gods, or heroes rais'd above mankind,
None now regrets that ever they were blind.
Hail! glorious pair, what you have sung, shall last
As long as rapture fires a human breast;
Your matchless strains, for ev'ry grace renown'd,
Fame with his own eternal trump shall sound!
While shines the sun, your praise shall reach the sky,
And only with the world your works shall die!

Go on, sweet BARD, a rival of their flame,
And like in fate, so be thou like in fame:
Go on to charm thy country with thy lays,
And plant our Scotia's plains with Grecian bays;
With soft Arcadian songs our hearts to fire,
And emulate the SON OF JESSE'S lyre;
With some old hero's praise our souls to move,
Or melt our bosoms with a tale of love:
Go on, sweet BARD, fresh beauties to display;
Nor mourn the loss of Sol's all-chearing ray;
Since in your fate you may this comfort find,
That more than you, one half the world is blind.
Feb. 24, 1754.