1734 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

James Thomson

James De La Cour, "To Mr. Thomson, on his Seasons" Prospect of Poetry (1734) 59-64.



From sunless worlds, where Phoebus seldom smiles,
But with his ev'ning wheels hangs o'er our Isles;
A western muse to worth this tribute pays,
From regions bord'ring on the Hebrides:
For thee the Irish Harp new-strung once more,
Greens our rough rocks, and bleak Hybernian shore:
Thou, Thomson, bid my fingers wake the strings,
And with thy praise the wild wood hollow rings;
The shades of rev'rend Druids hover round,
And bend transported o'er the brazen sound.

So the wing'd Bees that idly rove along,
(Renown'd alike for sweets as those for song;)
If the shrill Brass invite them from the sky,
In dusky clusters round the music fly.

Blest Bard! with what new lustre dost thou rise,
Soft as the season o'er the summer skies;
Thy works a little world new found appear,
And thou the Phoebus of a heaven so fair;
Thee their bright sov'reign all the signs allow,
And Thomson is another name for nature now:
Thou first cou'dst drive the coursers of the day,
Nor thro' the dazling glories lost thy way;
Thy steeds red hoofs still trod th' eternal round,
Nor flung the burning chariot to the ground.

So round Iulus' Temples, blazing bright!
In locks dishevel'd stream'd a length of light;
The Prince unharm'd, beheld the sparkles spread,
Nor shook the shining honours from his head.

Beneath thy touch Description paints anew,
And the skies brighten to a purer blue;
Spring owes thy pencil her peculiar green,
And drown'd in redder roses summer's seen;
While hoary winter whitens into cold,
And Autumn bends beneath her bearded gold.

In various Drap'ry see the rowling year,
And the wild waste in sable spots appear;
O'er the black Heath the Bittern stalks alone,
And to the naked Marshes makes his moan;
Ingulph'd in Bogs behold his muddy beak,
And the brown Partridge feeding in the brake.

But chief the sweetest passion best you sing,
The groves' soft theme, and symphony of spring:
How brindled Lions roar with fierce desire,
And in the waters Phocae feel the fire;
There large Leviathan unwieldy raves,
And burns tho' circled round with all his waves.
But higher still, those wonders must give place,
To the new transports of a beauteous face!
Its force on man — the touch — the glowing glance,
The tempting bosom, and the tender trance!
In those how strongly dost thou paint our care,
And all the darling weakness of the fair;
What thanks must Beauty give in yielding hour,
To warn them from us in the rosy bow'r?

A sudden flash of lightning turns my eye,
To thunder rumbling in the summer sky!
Beneath thy hand the flaming sheet is spread,
O'er heav'n's wide face, and wraps it round with red;
With the broad blaze the kindling lines grow bright,
And all the glowing page is fill'd with light;
Thro' the rough verse the thunder hoarsly roars,
And on red wings the nimble lightning soars:
Here thy Amelia starts, and chill'd with fears,
At ev'ry flash her eye-lid swims in tears;
What heart but beats for so divine a form,
Pale as a lily sinking in the storm?
What maid so cold to take a lover's part,
But pities Celadon with all her heart?

How pretious gems enrich each sparkling line,
Add sun to sun, and from thy fancy shine!
Here rocks of diamond blaze in broken ray,
And sanguine rubies shed a blushing day;
Blue shining Saphyrs a gay heaven unfold,
And Topaz lightens like transparent gold;
Of evening tinct pale Amethists are seen,
And Em'ralds paint their languid beams with green:
While the clear Opal courts the reader's sight;
And rains a show'r of many-colour'd light:
Your sky-dipt pencil adds the proper glow,
Stains each bright stone, and lets their lustre flow,
Tempers the colours shifting from each beam,
And bids them flash in one continued stream.

So have I seen the florid rainbow rise,
In breeded colours o'er the wat'ry skies,
Where drops of light alternate fall away,
And fainting gleams in gradual dyes decay;
But thrown together the broad Arch displays,
One tide of glory! one collected blaze!

Where may those numbers find thee now retir'd,
What lawn or grove is by the muse admir'd;
Dost thou in Stowe's delightful gardens stray,
Or in the glooms of Doddington delay:
There sweet embower'd some fav'rite author read,
Or breath the breezes of thy native Tweed;
On her cool border rest reclin'd a while,
Mindful of Forbes, and thy own Argyle?
O! thou that only in this garb cou'd please,
And bring me over to commend thy lays,
Where rhyme is wanting, but where fancy shines,
And bursts like ripen'd Ore above the mines;
Enjoy thy genius! glory in thy choice!
Whose Roman freedom has Roscommon's voice.