The five Spenserian sonnets published by the Rev. Joseph Sterling amount to a goodly fraction of those published in the eighteenth century.
By the 1780s sonnet-writing was not nearly so exotic an occupation as it had been a generation earlier, though it was still unusual enough to be something of a fashion statement.
Ah well away! for me the sun in vain,
With fluid gold illumes the azure sky;
Dead is my soul to Clio's god-like strain,
To music's voice, and beauty's cheering eye,
Drear sorrow only to my heart is nigh.
Ah! what avails imagination's glow,
The pictur'd landscape, ting'd with brightest dye,
Unfeeling death now aims his certain blow,
And lays the castled pile of fancy low.
Oh! swift transport me to some milder clime,
Where friendly suns a genial warmth bestow;
There wait the slow, the sure approach of time,
And languish out estrang'd from hopes or fears,
The sickly remnant of declining years.