1799
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Ode to the German Drama.

European Magazine 35 (April 1799) 260-61.

William Seward


A burlesque allegorical ode in six irregular Spenserians (ababccdD), signed "S." The ode ridicules the Sturm und Drang in a stanza by stanza parody of Thomas Gray's Hymn to Adversity: "When first, to make the nations stare, | Folly her painted mask display'd, | Schiller sublimely mad was there, | And Kotz'bue lent his mighty aid" p. 260. The concluding stanza makes explicit a connection between the popularity of German drama and French sympathies: "In specious form, dread Queen, appear | Let falsehood fill the dreary waste, | Thy democratic rant be here, | To fire the brain, corrupt the taste" p. 261. The poet was a regular contributor to the European Magazine. The attribution to William Seward is made in the Port Folio, and seems likely.

Joseph Dennie: "In the following exquisite Parody, the sentiments are not less admirable than the talents of the author. We have often expressed our contempt for German plays, and we are happy to fortify our opinion of the Teutonic Muse, with the wit of a man of genius, and a polite scholar" Port Folio [Philadelphia] NS 1 (15 February 1806) 92.



Daughter of Night, chaotic Queen!
Thou fretful source of modern lays;
Whose subtle plot, and tedious scene
The monarch spurn, the robber raise—
Bound in thy necromantic spell,
The audience taste the joys of hell;
And Britain's sons indignant groan
With pangs unfelt before at crimes before unknown.

When first, to make the nations stare,
Folly her painted mask display'd,
Schiller sublimely mad was there,
And Kotz'bue lent his mighty aid—
Gigantic pair! their lofty soul,
Disdaining reason's weak controul,
On changeful Britain sped the blow,
Who, thoughtless of her own, embrac'd fictitious woe.

Aw'd by thy scowl tremendous, fly
Fair Comedy's theatric brood;
Light satire, wit, and harmless joy,
And leave us, dungeons, chains, and blood;
Swift they disperse, and with them go
Mild Otway, sentimental Rowe,
Congreve averts th' indignant eye,
And Shakspeare mourns to view th' exotic prodigy.

Ruffians in regal mantle dight,
Maidens immers'd in thought profound,
Spectres that haunt the shades of night,
And spread a waste of ruin round:
These form thy never varying theme,
While buried in thy Stygian stream,
Religions mourns her wasted fires,
And Hymen's sacred torch low hisses and expires.

O mildly o'er the British stage,
Great Anarch, spread thy sable wings;
Not fired with all the frantic rage,
With which thou hurl'st thy darts at kings,
(As thou in native garb art seen)
With scatter'd tresses, haggard mien,
Sepulchral chains, and hideous cry,
By Despot arts immur'd in ghastly poverty.

In specious form, dread Queen, appear
Let falsehood fill the dreary waste,
Thy democratic rant be here,
To fire the brain, corrupt the taste.
The fair, by vicious love misled,
Teach me to cherish, and to wed,
To low-born arrogance to bend,
Establish'd order spurn, and call each outcast friend.

[pp. 261-62]