[Sonnet, "What honors wait immortal Tasso's lyre!"]

Poems. By the Rev. Joseph Sterling.

Rev. Joseph Sterling

A non-Spenserian sonnet to Torquato Tasso (1544-95), author of Aminta (1573) and Jerusalem delivered (1580-1). Tasso was a favorite of romantic poets: he lived in constant fear of persecution and was confined as a madman from 1579-86. In addition to the sonnets that influenced Spenser, Tasso wrote Pindaric odes, alluded to here

In the Preface to the second edition, Joseph Sterling responded to some national aspersions: "The learned reviewer allows me to some knowledge of Italian and Chivalry: what the extend of his Tuscan literature may be, I do not pretend to determine; but I must roundly assert, that he is only a novice in chivalry. It was an unknightly deed to attack me where I was a stranger, and when I was unprepared for defence. He blames me for my extravagant praise of Ariosto: on that ground I will boldly meet him, since I am confident of pardon from every reader of that delightful poet" p. v.

What honors wait immortal Tasso's lyre!
What raptures crown Marino's flowing rhymes!
Remotest nations Godfrey's deeds admire,
And fair Adonis blooms thro' distant times.
See! where the sun from eastern ocean climbs,
See! where he dips his wheels in western main;
Ev'n there man's rugged breast, the muse sublimes,
And wins the soul from anguish and from pain;
The haughty tyrant, purpled o'er with crimes,
Reveres the muse, reveres the poet's strain:
The fam'd Nepenthe was harmonious song,
The streams of Pindus quench'd the thirst of woe;
O may the gods soft melody prolong,
And Helicon's deep springs for ever flow.

[p. 110]