1774 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Anna Laetitia Barbauld

Mira, "To Miss Aikin, on reading her Poems" Gentleman's Magazine 44 (July 1774) 327.



Hail, charming Aikin, hail! thy name inspires
My glowing bosom with congenial fires.
Oh! would the Muse her tuneful aid impart,
And teach to speak the raptures of my heart;
Teach me to praise the beauties of that line,
Where strength of thought, and lively fancy join;
Where shines each happy art, that boasts to please,
Wit, genius, learning, elegance, and ease;
The pleasing theme unwearied I'd rehearse,
And, with thy name, immortalize my verse.
Thy tuneful strains, with more than magic art,
Can rouze, can soothe, or charm th' impassion'd heart.
Thou, whose transcendent worth and matchless lays
Extort from critic's lips the meed of praise,
A nobler energy expands thy heart;
Thine, heavenly Piety's seraphic strains,
To which compar'd all gifts are empty names,
Forms that rise fair to Fancy's cheated eye,
But in possession lose their charms and die:
Not so Religion — she, propitious power,
With lenient influence cheers each gloomy hour,
When pain assails, and woes on woes impend,
When, trembling on the grave's dread verge we bend,
She calms each fear, suppresses every sigh,
And points to realms above the swimming eye.