1774 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Robert Dodsley

W. B., "To Miss C—d, who obligingly lent the Author Dodsley's Miscellaneous Poems" Gentleman's Magazine 44 (March 1774) 135.



Thanks, gentle friend! sincere, abundant thanks
Return with your kind loan; thro' whose fair page
Mine eye hath fondly rov'd, and feeling heart
Felt many a rapture, and full many a pang,
Applausive raptures, and the pangs of pity.
Ah me! these reliques of the muse surveying,
Elate with joy at every mirthful note,
With anguish thrilling at each mournful lay,
How oft I boasted, — "These were British bards;"
How oft lamented, "Where's the poet now?"
Deaf the dull ear, and mute the tuneful tongue,
How soon, alas, become? Amidst the train,
The num'rous, choral train of youth and eld,
Of lovers, wits, philosophers, divines,
Whose brilliant fancies here assembled glow
With unexampled lustre, — ah, how few
The dart of death hath left us? — yet, my soul,
Mourn not their loss; the works survive the man.
And here, recorded to the latest times,
Brave the short span of threescore years and ten;
Love to immortalize the nerveless hand,
The tongue now silent, the unconscious breast,
Th' exhausted brain; and raise from earth to heaven
Their once-melodious owners. — Be it so;
'Tis heaven's appointment, and its will be done!
'Twas theirs, 'tis ours, 'twill be the lot of myriads;
And who shall dare complain? What once they were,
Fragile dependents on an hour, are we;
What they are, we shall be. Meanwhile, as due,
Forth from our labours, bright, transcendent spirits!
We'll cull assiduous every nobler thought,
Each generous sentiment, each tuneful strain,
And mark them for our own; and hence derive
Excellent fruit, to feast the studious mind,
Of virtue emulant; and form the heart
To wisdom's happy dictates: this be ours,
As they their part have liberally perform'd.

Me, lowest of the tribe, that scarce am meet
To crouch beneath their footstool, at the touch
Of magic poesy, am proud to join
One feeble note symphonious to their lyre,
The note of pleasure, and of glad acclaim,
And offer to my friend, and wish to leave,
Weak emblem of the grateful just esteem
Her kindness well may claim.—

Thus the poor bee
Lowly, obscure, unheeded, and unknown,
Yet, to her power, still faithful to her charge,
Assiduous wanders thro' the flow'ry groves,
To cull the fragrance, and the sweets she loves;
And duly brings (delighted thus to strive)
Her humble tribute to the parent-hive.