1823
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Devon's Poly-olbion, the First Song.

A Collection of Poems, chiefly manuscript, and from living Authors. Edited for the Benefit of a Friend of Joanna Baillie. [Joanna Baillie, ed.]

John Herman Merivale


In couplets. Not seen.

Mary Russell Mitford: "The volume was published by subscription, and is remarkable not only for these charming pieces of pleasantry, and for some of the best poems of the editor, but as containing Sir Walter Scott's most successful dramatic effort, 'Mac Duff's Cross,' and Mr. Merivale's 'Devon's Poly Olbion,' and also for having introduced to the world Southey's whimsical and characteristic experiment upon rhyme and language, called 'The Cataract of Lodore'" Recollections (1852) 159.

Samuel Austin Allibone: "He made some collections for a History of Devonshire, but never found time to arrange them for publication or to continue his researches" Critical Dictionary of English Literature (1858-71; 1882) 2:1268.

Roderick Marshall: "In many respects John Herman Merivale's Orlando in Roncesvalles, a Poem, in Five Cantos (1814) is the most remarkable instance of Italian influence on English literature before the days of the high romantics. In this poem Merivale not only echoed interesting thoughts from Dante and Ariosto; he translated and paraphrased more than a hundred stanzas of the Morgante Maggiore.... Moreover, he composed two hundred and thirty-four stanzas in ottava rima, thus producing what seems to have been the first long English poem in this meter since the days of Elizabeth. By this example he probably stimulated the use of the ottava rima among later poets to a greater extent than has ever been pointed out" Italian Poetry in English Literature 1755-1815 (1934) 372-73.



Hail modest streamlet! on whose bank
No willows grow, nor osiers dank;
Whose waters form no stagnant pool,
But ever sparking, pure and cool,
Their snaky channel keep, between
Soft swelling hills of tender green,
That freshens still, as they descend
In gradual slope of graceful bend,
And in the living emerald end—
On whose soft turf supinely laid
Beneath the spreading beechen shade,
I trace, in Fancy's waking dream,
The current of thine infant stream
Where straggling on with gentle force,
Thy waves pursue their destined course.

[Poems (1838) 1:109-10]