1746
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Ode XIII. On Shooting.

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

Rev. Joseph Warton


Seven blank-verse quatrains in which hunting, long the happy theme of georgic poetry, abruptly became a subject of opprobrium in the eighteenth-century age of sentiment: "When will dread Man his Tyrannies forego, | When cease to bathe his barbarous hands in blood, | His subjects helpless, harmless, weak, | Delighting to destroy?" The measure is a variant of Milton's translation of Horace's Ode to Pyrrha, which William Collins would use in Ode to Evening.

Warton's topic and sentiments were taken up in the same measure by S. Westby in "Ode on Shooting" in Gentleman's Magazine 47 (January 1777) 38. Compare also Francis Noel Clarke Mundy's "The Harehunter. A Burlesque Imitation of various Parts of Milton's L'Allegro, and Il Penseroso" in his Poems (1768).



Nymphs of the forests, that young oaks protect
From noxious blasts, and the blue thunder's dart,
O how securely might ye dwell
In Britain's peaceful shades
Far from grim wolves, or tiger's midnight roar,
Or crimson-crested serpent's hungry hiss,
But that our savage swains pollute
With murder your retreats!
How oft' your birds have undeserving bled,
Linnet, or warbling thrush, or moaning dove,
Pleasant, with gayly-glist'ring wings,
Or early-mounting lark!
While in sweet converse in a round you sit
On the green turf, or in the woodbine-bower,
If chance the thund'ring Gun be heard,
To grots and caves ye run,
Fearful as when LODONA fled from PAN,
Or DAPHNE panting from enamour'd SOL,
Or fair SABRINA to the flood
Her snowy beauties gave:
When will dread Man his Tyrannies forego,
When cease to bathe his barbarous hands in blood,
His subjects helpless, harmless, weak,
Delighting to destroy?
More pleasant far to shield their tender young
From churlish swains, that violate their nests,
And, wand'ring morn or eve, to hear
Their welcome to the Spring.

[pp. 44-45]