1796
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

The Banished Poet.

Poetic Trifles.

Rev. Richard Polwhele


Two Spenserians: the lament of a provincial poet who never won the esteem he felt he deserved. In point of fact, Richard Polwhele was a the height of his reputation in the 1790s, though Poetic Trifles was anonymously published to mixed reviews.

British Critic: "These seem to have been the amusements of a polished man; but their publication will not add a great deal to the stock of real poetry" 7 (June 1796) 673.

Analytical Review: "We discern in these trifles marks of a vigorous fancy, and a tolerable vein of satirical humour" 23 (June 1796) 612.

European Magazine: "This is a Collection of Lyric and Elegiac pieces, some canzonets and sonnets, and The Flight of Montauban, a mock-heroic poem, in three cantos. This last is the principal piece in the Collection, and seems to be founded on some private story; the knowledge of which, and of the parties, might occasion it to be read with more satisfaction than it can possibly be by those who are strangers to them. The Author, however, appears to possess more originality than usually is to be found in the works of modern Poets" 29 (June 1796) 395.



To tuneful Ovid, exil'd from his home
Thy sweetest numbers, elegy, we owe—
Those strains that soften'd his severer doom;
As fancy, to relieve the eye of woe,
Spread o'er his retrospect a vivid glow.
Yet, in his lonely walks, he wont to mourn!
"Ah my poor book (he cries) thou — thou wilt go,
Without thy master, to the city borne,
Unconscious of thy fate, while here I rove forlorn."

'Tis thus, far banisht from the chosen few
Whose converse once could lull my cares to rest,
Whose friendship brought elysium to my view—
The harmony that links in love the blest;
Here, in this solitude I sooth my breast
With traces fervid from the muse's pen:
Yet, by the weight of dire ennui opprest,
Tho' my songs "flutter thro' the mouth's of men,"
I hear nor praise, nor blame amid the silent glen.

[p. 20]