1789
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Ode for the Installation of the Knights of the illustrious Order of St. Patrick.

Poems by the Rev. Joseph Sterling.

Rev. Joseph Sterling


Five Prior stanzas in the octosyllabic variant. In response to the revolution in France, The Rev. Joseph Sterling, a protestant clergyman, declares the loyalty of Ireland : "No scaly serpent glides along our fields, | No crested adder darts his poison round: | Healthful the flow'rets which Ierne yields, | Pure are her rills, her vales with plenty crown'd." in the event, his declaration proved premature. Sterling acknowledges the historical context for the present danger in a note to the second stanza: "The severity of the penal laws against the Roman Catholics, has caused a melancholy expenditure of much gallant blood in the service of foreign princes" 231n.

This 1789 collection reprints poems from Joseph Sterling's earlier volumes, including his completion of Chaucer's Squire's Tale and a good deal of Spenserian material.



I.
Genius of Erin, seize the harp,
From Tara's cloudy hill descend:
No plaintive tones, no accents sharp,
Let martial sounds the welkin rend.
Shall tow'ring Windsor boast her garter'd knights?
Shall the keen thistle guard bleak Scotia's shore?
The guardians of their country's sacred rights,
The badge of valor, and of glory, wore:
Shall not fair Knighthood's star this land adorn?
Bright is her rising fame, clear is her orient morn.

II.
High was her worth in Druid times,
To her the sage's lore was known,
The bard pour'd forth the tide of rhymes,
O'er the deep harp his hand was thrown;
Lo! Gothic shadows dim the golden orb,
From iron wrongs the noble spirit flies,
Each gen'rous ray coercive laws absorb,
The sun of valor beams thro' distant skies;
In Belgian fields has stream'd Ierne's blood,
On Buda's banner'd plains, by Danube's swelling flood.

III.
Again, her splendid days return,
Britannia wears a sister's smile;
Sublime, exalted passions burn,
Heroic legions guard our isle;
Tremendous War his ensign had unfurl'd,
Proud Bourbon threaten'd, with his galling chain;
Britannia nobly brav'd a hostile world,
Green Erin's standard shar'd the doubtful plain:
Her val'rous knights in deadly combat close,
Amidst the strife of spears, their kindling courage glows.

IV.
Illustrious chieftains, doom'd to bear
Rich emblems of your Sov'reign's love,
To Honor's spotless shrine repair,
The virgin will your suit approve:
True to your God, your Country, to your King,
Let bright example swell your gen'rous rage,
To rescue beauty, mount the eagle's wing,
The laws of knighthood read, in Froissart's page:
Unsullied honor, lo! your step attends,
See! Erin's guardian saint his hallow'd wand extends.

V.
On dark Croagh Patrick's shaggy brow,
Which frowns above the western wave,
This wand he shook — black reptiles flow,
Plunging, they find a wat'ry grave.
No scaly serpent glides along our fields,
No crested adder darts his poison round:
Healthful the flow'rets which Ierne yields,
Pure are her rills, her vales with plenty crown'd:
Soft are her maidens, as the vernal gale;
Her sons, the angry storm, which rends the swelling sail.

[pp. 230-31]