1801
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Lines on reading Richard the First, a Poem, by Sir James Bland Burges, Bart.

Monthly Mirror 11 (February 1801) 78.

Thomas Dermody


A tribute by Thomas Dermody to his patron, Sir James Bland Burges, appended to a biographical sketch of Burges in the Monthly Mirror. Richard the First, a romantic epic, written in the Spenserian stanza, was published in 1801 and received considerable attention from the reviewers. Thomas Dermody appeals to the court for leadership in a national poetry. Burges, a member of the Literary Fund, was one of the last of Thomas Dermody's financial supporters. But Dermody wore out his welcome in that quarter also; his sad end was fast approaching. The poem is signed "D."

Robert Southey: "He now also addressed some flattering lines to Sir James Bland Burges, upon his 'admirable' poem of Richard the First, and from him he received in return that liberality which he seems to have obtained from every one to whom he was made known, and in every instance to have abused. Sir James encouraged him to print a second volume of poems, opened a subscription for their publication, and also recommended him to the Literary Fund, who gave him ten pounds, which was 'entrusted to the care of Mr. Baker, their collector, for the purpose of providing decent clothing for him'" Robert Southey, "Raymond's Dermody" Annual Review 5 (1806) 393-94.



Lo! from the ruins of the mighty dead,
Once more, the ENGLISH GENIUS lifts her head,
BRITAIN, once more, with partial transport views
Th' appropriate honors of the EPIC MUSE!
Oft has the fervour of her genuine flame
Illum'd the Theban or the Spartan name,
Lending, with liberal grace, to chiefs unknown,
Immortal wreaths, and laurels not their own;
While the brave worthies of this favour'd clime,
Lay clouded in some legendary rhyme,
Whose quaint inanity presum'd to raise
A lasting theme in mockery of praise.
Not so, with unaffected spendour bright,
Meets they FIRST RICHARD our enraptur'd sight,
Emerging from Oblivion's central shade,
In all the majesty of verse array'd.
Oh! would the heirs of pomp, the gifted great,
So charm the hours of dignified retreat;
So, by soft sanction, tenderly impart
A new-born lustre to the tuneful art;
Still might I hope, intent on high emprize,
To see a DORSET, or a SYDNEY rise!
The hope is vain: — that gen'rous glow divine,
Which breathes in harmony from breasts like thine;
That soaring spirit, which disdains to creep
Round the smooth base of the PARNASSIAN steep—
But, hurry'd with the whirlwind's force along,
Grasps the rough summit of sublimest song;
Where shall I seek 'mid that degen'rate band,
Who slight the beauties of their native land?
For foreign flow'rs, of short duration, sigh,
And scorn those hardy blooms, that never die.
Nurs'd by the rigors of our northern sky.
To thy auspicious star we fondly turn,
Whose steadier rays, aloft, distinctly burn,
To light the minstrel through Life's stormy main,
Or guide the banish'd Muses back again—
Here, safe at length, to rest their pilgrim-feet,
And claim their old, hereditary seat.

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