1790
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Fragment, in the Style of Spenser.

A Collection of Poems, mostly original, by Several Hands. [Vol 2.; J. Edkins, ed.]

Laurence O'Reilly


Eleven Spenserians. The complete title is "Fragment, in the Style of Spenser, being an Introduction to an intended Continuation of the Canto of Mutability left unfinished by that Author." Laurence O'Reilly praises Spenser, "pride of faery lands" and "dear delight of all that tread the Muses's haunts or love their lore," lamenting the loss of the last books of the Faerie Queene. In an amusing allusion to Lycidas, he fancies the nymphs and tritons now mute because they are are busily engaged reading the missing cantos in "Neptune's aery hall." The ode concludes with a salute to Sir Philip Sidney. If the promised continuation of the Mutabilitie Cantos was written, it has not turned up.

Like other Dublin poetry, this seems to have gone unnoticed, even in Henry James Todd's list of adaptations in his edition of Spenser (1805). The poem is signed "by the same," creating some confusion in the bibliographies since the previous name in the table of contents is one "W. B."



Wo worth the careless Carle, whose caitiff hand
Lost in those western waves that booke of thyne
My gentle SPENSER, pride of faery lande!
And sacred pages, stol'n fro Phoebus' scrine,
Drent, and immers'd in the salt sea bryne!
Ne'er sounded be his name by shepheard's tongue,
Ne round his tombe the sacred ivy twyne,
Ne soothing requiem to his soule be sunge,
Ne pilgrim's vow be heard the tufted heaps emong!

When as I thynke, thou dear delight of all,
That tredde the Muses haunts, or love their lore,
What sore mishap did to thy worke befall
Beyond the reach of fortune to restore,
Ah well away! my harte is pin'd so sore
With inward ruth and sad compassionne,
That my poor dimmed eyes are clouded o'er,
And pay for each sweet lyne, so lost and gone,
A pitiful exchange, a tear for ev'rie one!

And you, salt seas, to whose wide bosome
So fair a freight was trusted, how could you
Consign them, ruthless, to your watry tomb?
Some meeter meed was sure the shepherd's due
Who sunge so sweetly of your Nymphez blue!
And you ye Nymphs, where was your pity when
You could with dry eyes that sad shipwreck view?
And you ye Dophines, fam'd the friends of men,
Ye sav'd a poet once! ye lost a better then!

And yet perchance not lost! haply to where
In coral bow'r the nereid sisters play,
And braid in pearly twine their azure hair,
Some nymph convay'd the precious prize away;
Perhaps even now, attentive to the lay,
Fair Amphytrite, deck'd in coronall
Of Gold and sapphire, spends the live-long day;
Mute are the nymphs, and mute the tritons all,
While Gloriane's tryumphs ring thro' Neptune's aery hall.

O what an heav'n it were to mortal ear,
Could mortal ear but catch their carolling!
Ne other sound would my soule wish to hear,
Ne voice of song, ne pipe, ne silv'ry string,
Ne zephyr's sigh, ne all the choir of sprynge,
Could I but onely, onely, hear that straine!
How wolde I bend to listen! with what swynge
Re-echo each note to the worlde againe,
Each note, big with thy praise, my liefest Gloriane!

Rapt with the thought, my heart is hent aloof,
And brens with feats of chivalrous emprize,
Of Ladies gay, and knights in armor proof,
Whose high acquists and long lost memories
Glance in straunge visioune o'er my ravish'd eyes!
Ev'n now so high my fantasie is wound
With fair conceits of gallant histories,
That I, even I, the simplest swaine on ground,
Am tempted forth their long defrauded praise to sound.

And it shall sound! and many a noble name
Which Lethe's murky wave has buried long,
Shall wake from their long sleep, and have their fame;
And manie a gentle virtue which thy song,
Sweet shade! had blazon'd erst in colorynge strong,
Rude chance that did such moniments to die!
Shall live againe the mouths of men amonge,
Ne other wave shall sink them, but on hie
The tyde of tyme shall waft them to eternitie!

And it shall sound! and thou, most gentle spirit
That ever whisper'd in a shepheard's ear,
My SPENSER'S shade! from where thou dost inherit
Thy bow'r of blysse above, sometymes appear,
And to thy shepheard's lonely dreams be near!
And whiles thy ruin'd pile of honours reft
I strive with weakly hand againe to rear,
So teach me to recall fate's cruel theft,
That I of what is lost may deem by what is left!

And thee, fair CONSTANCY! of all the band
Aetherial that support bright virtue's throne
The firmest pillar, thee the poet's hand
With teints of living colors all his own
Had full and faire pourtray'd, tho' now alone
Some scatter'd traces of the worke remaine,
Remaine to show in part, what, if 'twere shown
In all its just proportions, might restraine
Far other Bard than I to tempt the lyke againe.

With thee then 'gins the Muse her first essay,
All be she callow yet and rude to synge,
Yet hoping haply some maturer day
May add grace to her song, strength to her wynge.
And thou my SPENSER! pardon thou the thynge,
If I thy SYDNEY'S name and virtues rare
Shall dare into these unco rymes to brynge,
Thyne ASTROPHEL, whose glories past compare
In these uncourtly lynes but faintly shadow'd are!

Blest bard of Arcadie, from whose sweete lippe,
Clothed in words of sugred breathings, hunge
Such queint conceits of curious workmanship,
As maister'd all except thy Colin's tongue!
Blest bard, blest heroe too! whose name has rung
Where'er the walks of Chevisance extend!
Certes no sweeter straine can e'er be sunge
To Phoebus' ear, than where thy name is pennd'd,
Great Astrophel! Arcadia's glorie! SPENSER'S FRIEND!

[pp. 176-80]