1788
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Hymn to Providence, written during the King's Indisposition.

St. James's Chronicle or British Evening Post (4 December 1788).

Rev. Luke Booker


Four irregular octosyllabic Spenserians (ababccdD), theological reflections inspired by the King's madness: "With prostrate hearts and tearful eyes, | The kindred nations humbly lend | Their supplications to the skies, | For their terrestrial king and friend." There is a suggestion of an allegorical scene in the second stanza in a poem which imitates Thomas Gray's Hymn to Adversity.

The son of a schoolmaster, Luke Booker was an extremely prolific provincial poet. Late in life he edited a collection of poems by the Spenserian poet Robert Millhouse.



Exalted high in Nature's Plan,
Endued with Dignity of Soul,
The reason-gifted Creature, Man,
Erst held Dominion and Controul:
But, soon, the First Almighty Cause
Reveng'd his violated Laws,
And drove, to Scenes of Sorrow and Disgrace,
From Eden's blissful Bow'rs, the Sin-fall'n, abject Race.

A spacious Wild — a world of Care
(In whose dark Womb each Mis'ry grows)
Receiv'd the wretched, wand'ring Pair,
And multiplied their recent Woes:
Calamity and mental Pain,
Attended by a weeping Train,
Hail'd their approach; — and soon, terrific Death,
By Murther's fellest Hand, suppress'd their Fav'rite's Breath.

Such, on the first apostate Fair,
The Chastisement of righteous Heav'n;
Whose bitter Cup, to all who share
Primeval Guilt, is justly giv'n:—
But Thou, Creation's Mighty Sire!
Who biddest, in Thy chastening Ire,
The Angel, Mercy, sooth with lenient Hand,
Oh! let that Angel smile on this afflicted Land!

With prostrate Hearts and tearful Eyes,
The kindred Nations humbly lend
Their Supplications to the Skies,
For their terestrial King and Friend:
And deign, O King of Kings! to hear
The Plaint of their united Pray'r!
Let Joy and Health the Royal Dwelling bless,
And turn to joyous Praise, a Nation's wide Distress!
Amen!

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