1748
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Retirement: an Ode.

Poems on Several Occasions. By the Reverend Mr. Thomas Warton, Batchelor of Divinity, later Vicar of Basingstoke in Hampshire, and sometime Professor of Poetry in the University of Oxford.

Rev. Joseph Warton


Six couplet stanzas: an imitation of Il Penseroso opposing the innocence of retired life to the vices of the court: "Teach me St. James to despise; | For what are crowded Courts, but Schools | For Fops, or Hospitals for Fools?" David Fairer discovered a manuscript draft in Joseph Warton's hand establishing his authorship, on which was written a list of figures calculating the length of the volume of his father's poems — eked out by considerable filial additions.

David Fairer: "On this evidence Joseph Warton was concerned about the volume's 'weight' while in the act of writing one of his own contributions. Though Joseph developed feelings of guilt about the production of the volume and refused to let John Nichols republish any of its contents, we should not be too hard on the young curate who was having to support his family and pay off his father's debts. We ought rather to be pleased that the creative urges of the Warton brothers were aroused by this sad necessity, and be glad that credit for these eleven pieces can at last be justly assigned" "Poems of Thomas Warton the Elder? — A Postscript" RES NS 29 (1978) 65.

Amy Louise Reed: "The almost unfailing use for descriptive poetry of either the Il Penseroso meter or blank verse, instead of the stanza and couplet forms transmitted by Dryden and Waller and preferred by Pope and other poets of the non-melancholy camp, bears witness to the growing love of both Milton and Shakespeare in the hearts of the poets of melancholy" The Background of Gray's Elegy (1924) 187.



I.
On Beds of Daisies idly laid,
The Willow waving o'er my Head,
Now Morning on the bending Stem,
Hangs the round, and glittering Gem,
Lull'd by the Lapse of yonder Spring,
Of Nature's various Charms I sing:
Ambition, Pride, and Pomp adieu!
For what has Joy to do with You?

II.
Joy, rose-lipt Dryad loves to dwell
In sunny Field, or mossy Cell,
Delights on echoing Hills to hear
The Reaper's Song, or lowing Steer;
Or view with tenfold Plenty spread
The crowded Corn-field, blooming Mead;
While Beauty, Health, and Innocence
Transport the Eye, the Soul, the Sense.

III.
Not fresco'd Roofs, nor Beds of State,
Not Guards that round a Monarch wait,
Not Crowds of Flatterers can scare
From loftiest Courts intruding Care:
Midst Odours, Splendors, Banquets, Wine,
While Minstrels sound, while Tapers shine,
In Sable stole sad Care will come,
And darken the gay Drawing-room.

IV.
Nymphs of the Groves, in green array'd,
Conduct me to your thickest Shade,
Deep in the Bosom of the Vale,
Where haunts the lonesome Nightingale;
Where Contemplation, Maid divine,
Leans against some aged Pine,
Wrapt in stedfast Thought profound,
Her Eyes fixt stedfast on the Ground.

V.
O Virtue's Nurse! retired Queen,
By Saints alone and Hermits seen,
Beyond vain Mortals' Wishes wise,
Teach me St. James to despise;
For what are crowded Courts, but Schools
For Fops, or Hospitals for Fools?
Where Slaves and Madmen, Young and Old,
Meet to adore some Calf of Gold.

[pp. 13-16]