1792
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Sonnet to the Rev. Mr. Sterling.

Poems: consisting of Essays, Lyric, Elegiac, &c. by Thomas Dermody. Written between the 13th and 16th year of his age.

Thomas Dermody


Two irregular Spenserians (ababcdcdD). The Rev. Joseph Sterling was one of the Irish Spenserians of the preceding generation, and an obvious influence on Thomas Dermody's choice of subjects and verse forms. He likely knew Dermody's early instructor, the Irish Spenserian, Henry Boyd. "Poems" includes a "sonnet" to William Collins, and another to one of his schoolmasters, Samuel Whyte another Irish Spenserian.

Robert Southey: "In the case of Dermody this however may be remarked, that to his talents he was indebted not only for all the numerous friends whom they procured him, and for all the bounty which he received; but also for those lucid intervals in a life of madness which kept his soul alive, and prevented him from sinking into utter brutality: — for a sense of what was right which preserved him from committing crimes against others as well as himself, and for hours of silent anguish and frequent regret and repentance, which however unavailing in this world, it is to be hoped have not proved wholly so" Robert Southey, "Raymond's Dermody" Annual Review 5 (1806) 396-97.



Spirit of Spencer, from thy fairy wild,
Inspire, while glowing with unusual flame,
I cull each flow'r, by WINTER undefil'd
And teach the woodland Echo, STERLING's name.
STERLING, whose wand can break old DULLNESS' spell,
With pow'rs of verse, the rugged carle assail,
Lead the wrapt Thought to Inspirations cell,
And finish Chivalry's heroic tale,
Where, whilom CHAUCER's self, and THOU, sweet Sprite did'st sail!

Whether the sonnet, feelingly he weaves,
Collecting all the secret flower's of rhime,
Or, bursting thro' a bow'r of laurel-leaves,
Snatches of Epic pomp the trump sublime,
The MUSE admires—Long may his sapient hand,
Melodious, strike the full-responsive chord,
Long may he seize the sweets of FAIRY-LAND;
And all the bliss poetic plains afford,—
Long may he melt the eye, and reign the bosom's lord!

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