1827
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

On leaving a favourite Picture.

Literary Souvenir, or Cabinet of Poetry and Romance, for 1827. [Alaric Alexander Watts, ed.]

Mary Russell Mitford


A sonnet: the poet compares the painter's image to Spenser's "blissful Fairy-land" or Mozart's fine melody. The sonnet catches something of the synesthetic effect the Annuals tried to create with their elegant pictures and typography. In the preceding sonnet in Dramatic Scenes (1827), "To a Friend on her Birth-day," Mary Russell Mitford speaks of "the Queen | Of that so famous land of Faery | Where quaintest spirits weave their spells unseen" p. 308. Mary Russell Mitford was much courted by the literary annuals.

John Wilson: "SHEPHERD. Oh sirs! what a glorious galaxy o' female genius and virtue have we to gaze on, with admiration pure and unreproved, in our native hemisphere. There — that star is the large and lustrous star o' Joanna Baillie; and there are the stars o' Hamilton — and Edgeworth — and Grant — and Austen — and Tighe — and Mitford — and Hemans! Beautiful and beloved in all the relations of Christian life, these are the WOMEN, Mr. North, maids, wives, or widows, whom the religious spirit of this Protestant land will venerate as long as the holy fires of a pure faith burn upon her altars. These are the LADIES, Mr. Tickler, and thank God we have many like them, although less conspicuous, whom to guard from insult of look, whisper, or touch, what man, English, Scottish, or Irish, but would bare his breast to death? And why? Because the union o' genius, and virtue, and religion, and morality, and gentleness, and purity, is a soul-uplifting sight, and ratifies the great bond of Nature, by which we are made heirs of the immortal sky" Blackwood's Magazine (November 1826) in Noctes Ambrosianae (1857) 2:301-02.



Young world of peace and loveliness farewell!
Farewell to the clear lake, the mountains blue;
The grove, whose tufted paths our eyes pursue
Delighted; the white cottage in the dell
By yon old church; the smoke from that small cell
Amid the hills slow rising; and the hue
Of summer air, fresh, delicate, and true,
Breathing of light and life — the master spell!
Work of the Poet's eye, the Painter's hand,
How close to nature art thou, yet how free
From earthly stain! the beautiful, the bland,
The rose, the nightingale, resemble thee:—
Thou art most like the blissful Fairy-land
Of Spenser, or Mozart's fine melody.

[p. 223]