1789
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

[Sonnet addressed to Dr. Darwin.]

Memoir of the Rev. Henry Francis Cary, M. A., Translator of Dante. With his Literary Journal and Letters. 2 Vols [Henry Cary, ed.]

Rev. Henry Francis Cary


Young Henry Francis Cary sent this Spenserian sonnet to his patron Anna Seward (who did not care much for Spenser) in a letter of 5 March 1789: "I send you a sonnet addressed to Doctor Darwin, on his 'Botanical Garden,' which I long to finish" 1:29. "The sonnets have some shadow of interest as early contributions, correct at least in form, to the revival of the sonnet before Wordsworth. It is perhaps worth noticing that William Lisle Bowles's sonnets, which had so much effect of Coleridge, did not appear till 1789" Robert Wylie King, The Translator of Dante; the Life, Work, and Friendships of Henry Francis Cary (1925) 30.

Erasmus Darwin (1731-1802), author of the Botanic Garden, was once a member of Anna Seward's Lichfield circle of writers.



Say, favour'd Bard, to whom her costly store
Flora has given to scan with raptured sight
Her pearly buds of mantle silver hoar,
Her gems that flame in golden radiance bright,
Each straggling sweet that on the mountain's height
Drinks the pure effluence of the orient beam;
Or in the valley's deep umbrageous night
Pensively meek, bends o'er the glassy stream:
Ah, why thereon thy wild romantic dream
Fancy indulgent sheds her choicest dews?
Why does thy groundless fear the novel theme
To the fixed ear of public taste refuse,
That to remotest years shall crown thy name
With the bless'd guerdon of a deathless fame!

[1:30]