To Dr. Blacklock.

Poems. By Hugh Downman, M.D.

Dr. Hugh Downman

A palinode prefacing the revision of Hugh Downman's Land of the Muses from Spenserian stanzas into couplets. Downman met the famous blind poet Thomas Blacklock (1721-91), a sometimes Spenserian, when he was studying medicine in Edinburgh in the 1760s. A different sonnet to Blacklock prefaces the original Land of the Muses, published in 1768. About the time this poem was published Thomas Blacklock would have been introducing young Walter Scott to Spenser, with more dramatic results.

Herbert E. Cory: "Downman deserves the credit of having been one of the first to see that Augustan- Spenserianism had been too academic and artificial in the purely mechanical adoption of Spenser's stanza and diction" "Spenser, Thomson, and Romanticism" PMLA 26 (1911) 72.

For thy amusement first I tuned the lay,
And dress'd my thoughts in Spenser's antique style,
'Twas but a frolic task, a youthful play,
Whose best reward was thy approving smile.

It scarcely claim'd th' offended critic's rod,
We love to imitate what we admire;
The Persian thus adores the Solar God,
And lights, faint emblem, his terrestrial fire.

No longer inexperienced I presume
On fancied worth, beneath the quaint disquise,
But strip the veil, remove th' incumbent gloom,
And modern numbers give to modern eyes.

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