1823 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Robert Southey

Frances Wright, "To Robert Southey, on the Appearance of his Laureate Ode" The Minerva [New York] 2 (25 October 1823) 232.



Where is the Bard, whose fearless hand
From Freedom's side took down the lyre,
And wak'd a strain that rous'd the land,
And fill'd it with Promethean fire?

Where is the Bard whose voice was truth,
Who shook the tyrant on his throne,
Who shamed the old, and fired the youth,
With pride and greatness like his own?

Where is the Bard who took his stand,
Firm by his fainting country's side,
And rais'd his voice and nervous hand
To keep her 'bove the stagnate tide?

Where is the Bard whose spotless name,
Was lov'd and honour'd by mankind;
Who found his own in Britain's fame,
His guerdon in an upright mind!

Oh can it be! The cry is heard,
Of Freedom shrieking for her son;
Who, in his age, the base preferr'd,
And from her side, to folly run:

The thoughtless, envious, and the mean,
Do shake the head in mockery now;
And those who lov'd thee, dare not skreen
The name of one that's sunk so low.

Yes! there were those who held thee dear,
Who lov'd thee for thy noble lay,
Who hear thee scorn'd, and sigh and hear,
And wipe the eye and turn away.

For flattery's hand the garland tore,
Which Freedom bound upon thy head,
And on those brows so grac'd before,
A badge of slavery plac'd instead.

O Bard of Freedom! once our pride,
Awake! 'tis Freedom calls on thee.
Awake! return to honour's side:
Again be true, be great, be free.