1819
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

To Mrs. *. *******. On receiving from her a beautiful Sketch of Lake Scenery, the Production of her own Pencil.

The Past &c. by Miss Holford, Authoress of Wallace, a Poem.

Margaret Holford


Six irregular Spenserians (ababB — the last ababbB) turn a nice compliment on the receipt of a drawing. This unusual stanza, which adds an alexandrine to the ballad quatrain, may have been intended to suggest a connection between Spenser and ecphrastic verse; the poem itself suggests the idea of a paragone between poetry and painting.

Lord Byron to John Murray: "I'm thankful for your books, dear Murray; | But why not send the Monastery? the only book in four living volumes I would give a baiocco to see — abating the rest by the same author, and an occasional Edinburgh and Quarterly, as brief Chroniclers of the times. Instead of this, here are Johnny Keats's p-ss a bed poetry, and three novels by God knows whom, except that there is Peg Holford's name to one of them — a Spinster whom I thought we had sent back to her spinning. Crayon is very good; Hogg's Tales rough, but RACY, and welcome" 12 September 1820; Letters and Journals, ed. Rowland E. Prothero (1898-1901) 5:93.



When weary of the world's perplexing change,
How sweet it is the troubled gaze to rest
On the wild silence of yon mountain range,
Where yet the eagle builds his lonely nest;
Or wistfully to watch the lake's unruffl'd breast!

Oh! sweet it is, amid the calm sublime,
To lose each little, sordid, earth-born care,
To lift our souls above the wrongs of time;
For here, where all is solemn, grand, and fair,
One thought to human strife 'twere sacrilege to spare!

Is there a nobler, loftier, lovelier scene,
Repose more meet for Contemplation's eye,
Than the broad bosom of yon lake serene,
Reflecting back the golden, glorious sky,
Or some cloud-crown'd cliff's aspiring majesty?

Yes, silent Nature, lovely as thou art,
There is a charm, and I have felt its pow'r,
Which sweeter peace sheds o'er the troubled heart,
Than e'en the sunshine of thy evening hour,
When balm is on the breeze, and dew is on the flow'r.

There is a sunbeam more sublimely bright
Than ever darted from the orb of day,—
When, from the heart the pure internal light
Of virtue's sun sends forth its heavenly ray
O'er some benignant brow in smiles divine to play!

Oh *******! well thy spirit may delight
Such haunts to trace of beauty and of rest,
And o'er them fling a portion of the light
Which warms and animates thine own bright breast,
Tinting each placid scene with hues more blest
Than ever evening sun spreads o'er the ruddy west!

[pp. 31-33]