1826 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John Milton

James Gates Percival, in Poem delivered before the Connecticut Alpha of the Phi Beta Kappa Society (1826) 18-19.



— who would not change it all,
To wear the crown of Milton or of Dante,
Spenser or Tasso? Who but must allow
The meanness of his spirit, and confess
He has no feeling of the stirring hope
That sends us after fame. And yet 'tis painful
To think how these were left to pine away
A sad old age, and sink into a grave,
Unwept, unhonored — how the Bard of Heaven,
Who could not plume his wing for lower flight.
Than its empyreal towers — how he decayed,
Blind, lonely, poor, the prey of slow disease,
And harsh neglect, that eat with keener tooth
Into his generous heart — how he retired
Into a dark retreat, that he might shun
The sentence of outlawry from a king,
Who played the fool and vice upon his throne,
Making one half his people fools like him,
And on the rest slipping the dogs of war—