1746
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Ode XII. On the Death of —

Odes on Various Subjects. By Joseph Warton, B.A. of Oriel College, Oxon.

Rev. Joseph Warton


An allegorical elegy in six couplet Spenserians. Joseph Warton recalls Milton's Il Penseroso and alludes to Spenser's Astrophel, written for Sir Philip Sidney. Joseph Warton follows the precedent of Mark Akenside in varying the measure in his collection of odes. The collections of Akenside, Collins, and Warton seems to have set a precedent for beginning poetical careers with collections of odes in place of the conventional pastorals; by writing in various measures on various themes young poets might demonstrate their facility in the several modes of contemporary poetry. Spenser had done the same in Shepheardes Calender.

Nathan Drake: "On this small collection of Lyric verse the fame of Dr. Warton, as poet, principally rests. Of the seventeen Odes, however, of which it is composed, there are but two entitled to an elevated rank for their lofty tone and high finish; the Odes To Fancy and On Reading Mr. West's Pindar, and of these the first is much the superior. It abounds, indeed, in a succession of strongly contrasted and high-wrought imagery, clothed in a versification of the sweetest cadence and most brilliant polish" Essays Illustrative of the Rambler (1809-10) 2:117.



No more of mirth and rural joys,
The gay description quickly cloys,
In melting numbers, sadly slow,
I tune my alter'd strings to woe;
Attend, MELPOMENE, and with thee bring
Thy tragic lute, EUPHRANOR's death to sing.

Fond wilt thou be his name to praise,
For oft' thou heard'st his skilful lays;
Isis for him soft tears has shed,
She plac'd her ivy on his head;
Chose him, strict judge, to rule with steddy reigns
The vigorous fancies of her listening swains.

With genius, wit, and science blest,
Unshaken Honour arm'd his breast,
Bade him, with virtuous courage wise,
Malignant FORTUNE's darts despise;
Him, ev'n black ENVY's venom'd tongues commend,
As Scholar, Pastor, Husband, Father, Friend.

For ever sacred, ever dear,
O much-lov'd shade accept this tear;
Each night indulging pious woe,
Fresh roses on thy tomb I strew,
And wish for tender SPENSER's moving verse,
Warbled in broken sobs o'er SYDNEY's herse;

Let me to that deep cave resort,
Where Sorrow keeps her silent court,
For ever wringing her pale hands,
While dumb MISFORTUNE near her stands,
With downcast eyes the CARES around her wait,
And PITY sobbing sits before the gate.

Thus stretch'd upon his grave I sung,
When strait my ears with murmur rung,
A distant, deaf, and hollow sound
Was heard in solemn whispers round—
"Weep not for me, embath'd in bliss above,
In the bright kingdoms blest of joy and love."

[pp. 41-43]