1825 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Collins

Thomas Stott, "To the Memory of W. Collins, Esq." The Songs of Deardra (1825) 15-21.



I.
Distinguished Leader of the lyric throng,
That whilom sooth'd Britannia's pensive ear
With the sweet sounds of sentimental song,
Wilt thou, removed now to thy native sphere,
Above on starry cope of cloudless light—
Wilt thou benignly bend a favouring ear
To the weak warblings of an earthly muse,
Into whose heart such pleasure exquisite
Thy tuneful reliques frequently infuse,
That gratitude compels her now to pay
Thy memory, charming Bard! the tribute of a lay?

II.
Each kind affection of the heart
By thee was intimately known—
PITY still prompt assistance to impart,
And feel the woes of others as her own:
And meek-eyed MERCY, still inclined to spare,
When scowling Vengeance rais'd his angry arm
To strike, regardless of the victim's prayer,
Till sooth'd by her persuasive charm,
His rage grows cool — evaporates in air—
And drops the lifted blade that threaten'd instant harm.

III.
The knowledge of the PASSIONS too was thine—
Thy skilful hand could nicely trace
Their various features, and combine
Them with such sweet poetic grace,
That in the glowing line,
A strong and striking portraiture of each
(So high thy tuneful art could reach!)
The wondering senses found.
And still as Music touch'd th' appropriate string,
Obedient to the potent sound,
Alternately they'd fall and rise,
And moving in a magic ring,
Excite increas'd emotions of surprise.

IV.
The MANNERS, too, by Fancy dress'd,
In many a wild, cameleon vest,
Were to thy keen, observant view
Display'd, in every change of hue.
Thy nimble pencil caught their flight
With the velocity of light,
And in unfading tints of nature warm,
Fix'd and embodied each fugacious form.

V.
The ALLEGORIC train, that rove
By Fancy's haunted stream and grove,
And fan her mystic flame,
Depicted in thy strains we find,
Those strains that e'en "the shadowy tribes of mind"
Could charm, arrest, and tame.

VI.
But when thy verse, "like Sparta's fife,
In solemn sounds awakes to life
The forms applauding Freedom loved to view,"
When it laments the injuries she bore
From vandal rage, in days of yore,
And bans the barbarous crew;
What moving pathos marks the tale
Of LIBERTY oppress'd!
But see! once more her struggling arms prevail,
And Albion's sons their glorious guardian hail,
Great "Mistress of the West."

VI.
How sweet thy soothing, doric numbers steal
Upon still, pensive EVENING'S listening ear,
In softest cadence breath'd,
Like her own "dying gale!"

VIII.
SIMPLICITY thy tuneful call
Rejoicing heard, who gives to all
Her gentle train a grace that none beside,
Nor rank, nor power, nor art,
Nor riches can impart—
Sweet nymph! to spotless Truth and Friendship near allied.

IX.
Does Worth, or Genius, to the tomb descend,
Snatch'd from the world in an untimely hour—
Doth generous Valour to misfortune bend,
Or blooming Beauty mourn her blasted flower—
In tenderest tones, thy sympathizing shell
Teaches the feeling heart with kindred grief to swell.

X.
Great Lyrist! to thy gifted mind
The Muse her holiest views unveil'd.
Thy skill in all her mystic lore,
On every leaf impress'd we find,
Of that delightful fairy field,
Thy plastic pen has left behind,
For Britain's future Minstrels to explore.

XI.
Though Criticism, of aspect sour,
Jealous of thy superior power
To soar beyond his limited control,
May keenly search to find some flaw,
Some breach of the despotic law
He frames to cramp the sallies of the soul—
Yet long as genius, sentiment and fire,
The life and ornament of verse remain,
The fine effusions of thy lofty lyre
Shall never cease to charm true Taste's distinguish'd train.