1750
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Sent to a Friend, on his leaving a favourite Village.

Poems: a new Edition, with Additions. By Thomas Warton.

Rev. Thomas Warton


A rural ode in octosyllabic couplets published as Warton's Ode VII in 1777. In a charming reverie Thomas Warton heightens the magic of Milton's landscapes in L'Allegro and Penseroso. The "friend" is the poet's brother Joseph, travelling on the Continent, "Who peopled all thy vocal bowers | With shadowy shapes, and airy powers." Compare Warton's "Sonnet written at Wynslade in Hampshire" written on the same occasion.

European Magazine: "Walking was his favourite exercise, and contemplating the lovely views surrounding Oxford his greatest pleasure. After a short absence, or on his returning from his annual visits of fraternal affection to his worthy brother, with what delight has he first surveyed the lofty towers of his favourite spot!" "Tribute to Mr. Warton" in European Magazine 29 (April 1796) 231.

Samuel Egerton Brydges: "On this occasion his brother wrote that beautiful Ode sent to a Friend on leaving a favourite Village in Hampshire; which alone, in my opinion, would place him in the higher order of poets: and which is one of the most exquisite descriptive pieces in the whole body of English poetry. Every line paints, with the nicest and most discriminative touches, the scenery about Wynslade and Hackwood.... The first of T. Warton's sonnets is also addressed to Wynslade: and the images in several of his other poems are drawn from this neighbourhood" Censura Literaria 5 (1807) 178.

Nathan Drake: "The Ode sent to a Friend has a pathetic charm which will endear it to every reader, when he shall recollect that it mourns the departure of a beloved brother, who was then leaving his favourite residence at Wynslade for the continent" Essays Illustrative of the Rambler (1809-10) 2:181.

John Wilson: "Verily there is poetry in these verses — nor are they, to our mind at least, the worse but the better for being besprinkled with colourings from Milton. We do not call that plagiarism — nor is it borrowing; Warton lays no claim to a diction peculiarly his own; and having studied Milton all his life, he had become imbued with the language of his minor poems, which he rejoiced to use in love and reverence of his mighty master. The flow of thought, and sentiment, and imagery proceeds from his own genius thus enriched; and had he not been a true poet (nobody calls him a great one), his familiarity with Milton would have been shown but in Centos" Blackwood's Magazine 44 (October 1838) 567.

W. J. Courthope: "Viewed on the whole, the two Wartons may be regarded as the conscious and critical pioneers of the Romantic Movement in English Poetry. Joseph was the first to raise a protest on behalf of lyrical poetry against the prevailing ethical and didactic tendencies of his age. Thomas, by an elaborate note in his Observations on the Faery Queen, gave the signal for the revival of Gothic Architecture, and indicated the study of national antiquities as the richest source of lyric enthusiasm; while in his Grave of Arthur he anticipated, both in respect of matter and style, the romantic metrical narratives of Walter Scott. But neither of these brothers was possessed of native poetical genius, and the enchanted horn which they had discovered, hung before the Castle of Romance, remained to be sounded by two poets of more powerful inspiration" History of English Poetry (1895-1910) 5:384-85.



Ah mourn, thou lov'd retreat! No more
Shall classic steps thy scenes explore!
When morn's pale rays but faintly peep
O'er yonder oak-crown'd airy steep,
Who now shall climb its brows to view
The length of landskips, ever new;
Where Summer flings, in careless pride,
Her varied vesture far and wide!
Who mark, beneath, each village-charm,
Or grange, or elm-encircled farm:
The flinty dove-cote's crouded roof,
Watch'd by the kite that sails aloof:
The tufted pines, whose umbrage tall
Darkens the long-deserted hall:
The veteran beech, that on the plain
Collects at eve the playful train:
The cott that smokes with early fire,
The low-roof'd fane's embosom'd spire!
Who now shall indolently stray
Through the deep forest's tangled way;
Pleas'd at his custom'd task to find
The well known hoary-tressed hind,
That toils with feeble hands to glean
Of wither'd boughs his pittance mean!
Who mid thy nooks of hazle sit,
Lost in some melancholy fit;
And listening to the raven's croak,
The distant flail, the falling oak!
Who, wandering at return of May,
Catch the first cuckow's vernal lay?
Who, musing waste the summer hour,
Where high o'er-arching trees embower
The grassy lane, so rarely pac'd,
With azure flow'rets idly grac'd!
Unnotic'd now, at twilight's dawn
Returning reapers cross the lawn;
Nor fond attention loves to note
The weather's bell from folds remote:
While, own'd by no poetic eye,
Thy pensive evenings shade the sky!
For lo! the Bard who rapture found
From every rural sight or sound;
Whose genius warm, and judgment chaste,
No charm of genuine nature past;
Who felt the Muse's purest fires,
Far from thy favour'd haunt retires:
Who peopled all thy vocal bowers
With shadowy shapes, and airy powers.

And see, thy sad sequester'd glooms
Their antient, dread repose resumes!
From the deep dell, where shaggy roots
Fringe the rough brink with wreathed shoots,
Th' unwilling Genius flies forlorn,
His primrose-chaplet rudely torn.
With hollow shriek the Nymphs forsake
The pathless copse, and hedge-row brake.
Where the delv'd mountain's headlong side
Its chalky entrails opens wide,
On the green summit, ambush'd high,
No longer Echo loves to lie.
No pearl-crown'd Maids, with wily look,
Rise beckoning from the reedy brook.
Around the glow-worm's glimmering bank,
No Fairies run in fiery rank;
Nor brush, half-seen, in airy tread,
The violet's unprinted head.
But Fancy, from the thickets brown,
The glades that wear a conscious frown,
The forest-oaks, that pale and lone,
Nod to the blast with hoarser tone,
Rough glens, and sullen waterfalls,
Her bright ideal offspring calls.

So by some sage inchanter's spell,
(As old Arabian fablers tell)
Amid the solitary wild,
Luxuriant gardens gaily smil'd:
From sapphire rocks the fountains stream'd,
With golden fruit the branches beam'd;
Fair forms, in every wonderous wood,
Or lightly tripp'd, or solemn stood;
And oft, retreating from the view,
Betray'd, at distance, beauties new:
While gleaming o'er the crisped bowers
Rich spires arose, and sparkling towers.

If bound on service new to go,
The master of the magic show,
His transitory charm withdrew,
Away th' illusive landscape flew:
Dun clouds obscur'd the groves of gold,
Blue lightning smote the blooming mold:
In visionary glory rear'd,
The gorgeous castle disappear'd;
And a bare heath's unfruitful plain
Usurp'd the wisard's proud domain.

[pp. 48-52]