1748 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

James Thomson

Anonymous, "To the Memory of Mr. Thomson, Author of The Seasons" Newcastle General Magazine 1 (November 1748) 542.



Pensive and sad within the Cypress Grove,
Soul-raising Poetry methinks I see
In mourning Weeds array'd, and stretch'd along
The verdant Couch; her drooping Head inclin'd
On her Left Hand; just fallen from her Right.
Her golden Lyre unstrung neglected lies
In Silence on the Ground: around her wait
The Pow'rs of Harmony all mute; their Eyes
Swimming in Tears, bespeak some great Distress,
And gnawing Sorrow working in the Soul.

Nor could the Goddess long conceal her Woe,
But thus bursts forth, — O Thompson, best of Sons!
Of British Bards my first, my best-belov'd,
With thee entomb'd my chiefest Glory lies.

Too long a Prostitute to Vice deform'd
By Bards unhallow'd made, to wanton Ears,
I, Syren-like, sung lewd lascivious Strains,
And fed, with Flames impure, their foul Desires;
Or gave to Malice Vent in envious Rhymes,
Or play'd with Toys, or idoliz'd the Fair:
'Till by thee rescu'd from their Hands prophane,
I strung my Harp a-new to Themes divine,
(Such as to mortal Ears at first I sung)
And in soft swelling Numbers taught the Soul
To Love and praise the God of Seasons, who
Diffuses wide his Blessings thro' the Year.
Thou all my Charms in Virtue's Cause employed,
And Liberty's. Attun'd by thee, I made
Winter wrapt in his Snowy Mantle please,
And taught the roaring Storms aloud to praise
Him, who Majestick rides the swift wing'd Winds.
The Spring a-fresh I spread to Fancy's View
A cheering Verdure, each enchanting Line
Painting the Meads a-new with various Dyes.
The Summer's full blown Charms and keener Rays
To kindle in the Breast seraphick Flames;
While teeming Nature pours her richest Gifts
Around our smiling Ball. When Autumn comes
Stooping beneath his yellow Load, and bids
The jolly Swain his Sickle use, and reap
With thankful Heart the Fruit of all his Toils;
Unable, without Raptures, to survey;
All Nature's Parent from his boundless Stores
Streaming his Bounty forth, the grateful Muse
Breaks out in a devout exstatick Hymn.

When with thee I did raise the Patriot Strain
To sing of Liberty, with full spread Wing,
Tracing the goddess as she shifts her Sway,
From East to West, from learned Greece to Rome;
Till curs'd Ambition and Corruption hatch'd
The Monster Tyranny, who closely bound
The groaning World in adamantine Chains,
And Freedom banish'd from the Continent
To dwell with Britons (o'er them may she reign
Till Nature groan her last, and Earth's no more)
What noble Zeal for publick Virtue flam'd,
Thro' each enraptur'd Verse? The justest Thoughts,
And wisest Maxims strike with double Force
The Soul, as from thy Quill they dropt adorn'd
With every Grace and Beauty that is mine.
And in what rousing Numbers didst thou sing
Britannia mourning on the Sea-beat Shore,
Her Sons degen'rate, and her Flag despis'd?
Or when thy Muse in Buskins trode the Stage,
Each Thought was chaste, and ev'ry Scene did tend
To mend the Heart, and raise Men to the Skies.
At last, as Prelude to thy own Escape,
Thou form'd the Castle of soft Indolence,
Broke Pleasure's Net, and bad Mankind be free,
Soar above Sense, and taste sublimer Joys.

But raising now celestial Hymns, thou tun'st
Th' angelick Harp in concert with the Choirs
Of Saints, of Seraphs, and of Seraphims.
She said, — and Fancy clos'd the mournful Scene.
Lanerk, Sept. 8, 1748.