1806 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Robert Merry

Laura, "In Vindication of the Poems signed Della Crusca on reading Gifford's Baviad and Maeviad" Companion and Weekly Miscellany [Baltimore] 2 (4 October 1806) 366.



Why urge the unskill'd muse to praise
The elegance of Della Crusca's lays?
Why dare her to avow his fame,
And impious cry — "Oblivion seeks his Name!"
What tho' the pedant scorns his verse
And strives to seize the laurels he has won,
Genius shall long his deeds rehearse
And weep and mourn her fav'rite gone.
Was it not herself that spoke
Upon the plain of Fontenoy?
Sure 'twas her eloquence the silence broke
When on the rough rock's giddy height,
He mus'd on time's neglected flight,
And wept departed joy.
When love inspir'd his breast
And all the phrenzy of the passion prest
On his disorder'd, yet enraptur'd mind—
If then his muse
Suffered light nonsense to diffuse
Her cobweb o'er the glowing line
And half obscure the verse divine
Know 'twas the true effect of love and genius unconfin'd.

Cold and insensate must that bosom be,
That thrills not at his fervid song;
If hap'ly such — O listless mortals flee,
And leave the captious throng:
For who could Della Crusca's verse disprove
Can never, never feel the joys of love.
Humanity with purest ray
Beams o'er the energetic lay,
When for the "Slave" he forms his verse,
And the full soul his solemn truth's rehearse,
Who does not feel them throbbing at his breast,
Who will not cry with him, "the negro shall be blest."
Of learning long he trod the sacred shade
And his fine taste display'd,
The never dying beauties he explor'd:
Beauties with which his mind was stor'd.
Let Gifford, write his censuring strains
So long as sensibility remains,
So long as feeling — taste — and love are known,
Will Della Crusca hold his envied throne.