1782 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Anna Seward

Anonymous, "To Miss Seward" Westminster Magazine 10 (September 1782) 494.



When long the sun, life's vast exhaustless source,
Wrapp'd in thick clouds, has held his wonted course;
If from a chasm his glorious face he shews,
What sudden joy thro' drooping nature glows!
The feather'd choir, touch'd by the transient gleam,
Pour forth a-fresh their love-begotten theme
The flowers no longer droop, new beauties dawn,
And renovated fragrance scents the lawn:
So oft, when care's lead hand weighs on the mind,
Or woe we meet, where joy we thought to find;
Or wasp domestic, life's detested bane,
Darts on the soul her thousand stings of pain;
If we, by chance or fortune's fickle will,
Great arbitress of all our good or ill!
But for a moment view thy beauteous face:
Such is its power, such its enchanting grace;
Expell'd fell care, expell'd the shafts of pain,
We breathe with sweet tranquility again!—

If with thy choice surrounding friends we share,
Thy charming converse, ev'ry graceful care,
Unheeded time shoots rapid on his way,
And to an instant shrinks the longest day!—
But do'st thou to the page poetic turn?
To hear thee we with mute impatience burn!—
Thou read'st — Ye gods! what charms expressive rise
Though all thy form, flash in thy speaking eyes:—
Now sympathy her magic rod applies!—
We laugh, weep, breathe involuntary sighs;
Frown with resentment, trembling fear we move,
Flame with revenge, or glow with gentle love:
By this main-spring, like mere machines we go,
And passive it, we motion cease to know!—
But do we, Mira, list thy matchless muse?
What agitations o'er our soul diffuse!—
O gallant Cooke, 'tis thou inspir'st her lays;
Most worthy of thy country's, virtue's praise;
Round the vast world, like thee shall steer thy fame:
In Seward's verse immortal be thy name;
There we thy toils, thy wond'rous deeds attend,
Behold thy hapless fall; deplore the day,
And with our tears bedew her Cooke's Morai!
Was great Achilles, on Troy's bloody plains,
Or sung in sweeter, or in nobler strains?
Round fallen Hector, louder grief display,
Did Grecian muse than her's round Cooke's Morai?—

The gen'rous Andre, all-accomplish'd youth;
Fair son of genius, innocence, and truth;
Most constant lover, yet by hapless love,
A wretched exile from his country drove;
Amidst the din of war how great he rose,
His country's glory, terror of her foes;
His ignominious fall now swell her lays;
Who would not die to win such deathless praise?—

Behold the beauteous Miller now arise,
Fast by her vase! — joy sparkles in all eyes;
She merit crowns, gives comfort to distress,
And radiant spreads around her happiness;
Where's then the iron heart which does not sigh,
In Seward's plaintive song to see her die?—
What eye refrains to drop the heart-felt tear,
While bending o'er her Miller's early bier?—
Such inspiration thy sweet lyre imparts,
It instant tunes to unison our hearts;
Through all our nerves its soft vibrations move,
With thee we smile, we sigh, weep, hate, and love!
Quaff friendship's nectar, life's divinest zest,
And blessing thee, confess ourselves most blest.
Derby, Sept. 17, 1782.