1799
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

On the Tree which is the subject of the Sonnet Vol. VI. p. 178.

Monthly Mirror 7 (February 1799) 107.

Capel Lofft


Three irregular Spenserians signed "C. L., 18 February 1799." Julius Nicholas Hook's declaration that the poem is full of archaisms seems rather an exaggeration, "Eighteenth-Century Imitations of Spenser" (1941) 190. Perhaps the poem's one archaism is meant to allude to the "goodly Oake" in Spenser's Februarie, though more likely the Spenserian stanza is adopted for its well-established and general association with the theme of mutability. Compare William Wordsworth's "The Oak and the Briar" in Lyrical Ballads (1800).

Henry Kirke White to Neville White: "The next month's Mirror I shall consequently buy. I wish it were not quite so expensive, as I think it a very good work. Benjamin Thomson, Capel Lofft, Esq., Robert Bloomfield, Thomas Dermody, Mr. Gilchrist, under the signature of Octavius, Mrs. Blore, a noted female writer, under the signature of Q. Z., are correspondents; and the editors are not only men of genius and taste, but of the greatest respectability. As I shall now be a regular contributor to this work, and as I think it contains much good matter, I have half an inclination to take it in" April 1801; in Remains, ed. Southey (1807; 1869) 52-53.

Robert Southey: "He now became a correspondent in the Monthly Mirror, a magazine, which first set the example of typographical neatness in periodical publications, which has given the world a good series of portraits, and which deserves praise also on other accounts, having among its contributors some persons of extensive erudition and acknowledged talents. Magazines are of great service to those who are learning to write; they are fishing-boats, which the Buccaneers of Literature do not condescend to sink, burn, and destroy; young poets may safely try their strength in them; and that they should try their strength before the public, without danger of any shame from failure, is highly desirable" Remains of Henry Kirke White (1807) 1:14.



Ill fated tree! — Ah little did I ween
My frail and fading Life of longer date
Than thy firm Root, fair Stem and Branches sheen
That on the lingering sun beam smil'd so late!
Ah verse, — all powerless to postpone thy Fate.—
But in this Age Verse ill can intervene
Against Destruction's fang: — or ruthless War
The Realms of Verse and Arts ere this had ceas'd to tear.

Fallen art thou at once! — whom fiercest blast
Harm'd not, nor Winter's icy bolt could rive,
Man, more destructive than all storms, hath cast
To Earth! — for Ages thus dost thou survive?
Presumptuous Hope, that trusts aught here shall last!—
Not e'en a shatter'd Trunk where Bees might hive
Is left, where late thou didst so fair aspire;
Nor Branch, on which to hang the unavailing Lyre!

Nor Zephyr's breath, nor dew of vernal Heaven
Shall wake thee now; — whom, all up-rotted, tore
The cruel Axe! — to thee henceforth are even
"All seasons and their Change!" — Thee I deplore;
And in thy imag'd ruin muse on more
Which Man hath still to feel: — to Man is given
To see what wins the heart and charms the eyes,
Marks and adorns Life's Road, Death's unexpected Prize.

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