1777 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Hugh Blair

W., "To Dr. Blair, on his Sermons" Weekly Magazine or Edinburgh Amusement 35 (13 March 369-70.



When o'er her favour'd sons young Fancy streams
The kindling ray, which warms the Poet's thought;
When rising Truth displays her genial beams,
To clear the dubious path by History sought;

That ray from Virtue gains its native glow;
She points those beams that guide the search of truth:
Around the fane of Genius she must throw
Her radiance, friendly to the steps of youth.

Nor she, the Muse who gently soothes the soul,
Soft arbitress of passion and the heart,
Nor she could once th' impassion'd breast controul,
Could bend th' obdurate, by the power of art.

Would she allure us to the blissful shade,
And smooth the bosom by the sweets of peace;
Or rouse the mind, while circling storms invade,
To brave stern danger, though each toil increase?

From Virtue only flows the peaceful strain;
She fires the cheek, and sparkles in the eye:
The Muse were soothing, eloquent, in vain,
Did not meek Virtue every charm supply.

Would she assume the harder task, to melt
The heart of Vice, to draw the swelling tear?
In her full breast is Virtue's presence felt;
Her moving accents win the stubborn ear.

So, when dread thunder, rolling awful, rends
The knotted trunk, and threatens ruin round;
Soon the desir'd, reviving shower descends;
Soon the field brightens, and its blooms abound.

Thrice happy thou! whom guardian Virtue holds,
Her hand defends, her purest ardour fires;
To whose purg'd eye Heaven's opening day unfolds
The glowing joys eternity inspires.

Thus warm'd, to thee what are the foreign aid
And specious grace which tinsel Art surround?
No strength, no glare of Art may e'er pervade
The sacred scenes which bloom on Classic ground.

Yet not to earth alone art thou confin'd;
But oft, sublime, thou soar'st on seraph wing;
That seraph-hand which paints man's troubled mind,
Unveils the skirts of heaven's Almighty King.

The Muse conducts no common road to fame
The man on virtue and on goodness stay'd;
Whose wish for worth is but a second aim;
Whose life, whose actions, eloquent, persuade.