1787 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Thomas Warton

Oxfordian, "To Mr. Warton, on his New Year's Ode" New Lady's Magazine 2 (February 1787) 99-100.



Immortal bard! whose lofty strain
So sweetly charms the regal ear,
And, soft'ning winter's fierce domain,
Triumphant hails the new-born year;
Accept the grateful tribute due
To worth, to genius, and to you.

For, like the Grecian bards of yore
You to sublimest heights aspire,
And with th' immortal Pindar soar,
And strike with equal force the lyre;
While, rapt with the inspiring glow,
Like his own verse your numbers flow.

Thus skill'd, you raise the grateful theme,
And harmonize each jarring soul,
While swiftly down time's rapid stream
You sing the seasons as they roll;
And in th' exalted, tuneful lay,
Each sweet, poetic charm display.

The scepter'd king, and subject swain,
Alike your verse resistless charms;
While fast dissolves the icy chain
Of winter, whom your song disarms—
Your song which, as you sweetly sing,
Wakes nature, and revives the spring.

For lo! from winter's tyrant force
Your fav'rite Isis, haply freed,
Again renews her wonted course,
And winds through many a fertile mead;
And, swelling with dissolving snows,
Like your own verse majestic flows.

See! rising from her dormant state,
Nature assumes her wonted pow'rs,
And, partial to the hind's retreat,
Spreads round his cot her choicest flow'rs;
The primrose pale, the vi'let blue,
Again unfold to his rapt view.

Hark! how from yon romantic hill,
With a meand'ring rapid flow,
The gushing, mancipated rill,
Runs bubbling to the vales below;
And there it's latent, pebbled maze,
With many a murmur loud betrays.

But oh! what sweeter sounds assail
The high rapt shepherd's rustic ear,
While Sylvia o'er her milky pail
Does with an equal transport hear
The woodlark, that relenting skies
To charm with the sweet skylark vies.

But cease, fond muse, nor more pourtray
The dawnings of reviving spring;
Nor, thus unskill'd, in vain essay
Her vernal beauties here to sing:
For themes like these alone belong
To thee, great master of the song!

To thee, sweet bard! by heav'n assign'd
"To sing the seasons as they roll,"
While ev'ry British ear inclin'd,
Lists to the strain that fires the soul—
The strain which, as it warbling flows,
Lulls the sad heart to soft repose.

For oh! so great's the magic sway
Of verse, when all the nine inspire—
When Warton tunes his votive lay,
And grateful strikes th' accordant lyre,
That wond'ring mortals flock around,
Transported with the heav'nly sound.

Thus here, great bard! while you rehearse
Or nature's charms, or George's praise,
Immortal fame shall crown thy verse,
And deck thee with the sweetest bays;
And round your head shall grateful twine
The trophies of the song divine.
Halsted, Essex.