1824
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Life.

Oriental Herald and Colonial Review 2 (July 1824) 364-65.

James Silk Buckingham


Six Spenserian stanzas signed "Bion." The optimistic tone of this ruminative poem is rather the exception in Byronic verse: "For who would not an ark-like fabric frame, | Endued by Genius with the wondrous power, | To bear, in spite of storms and wasting shower, | His freighted name earth's living deluge o'er" p. 365. "Bion" contributed most of the poetry to the early numbers of the Oriental Herald, including a number of sonnets. He may have been the editor, James Silk Buckingham.

La Belle Assemblee: "In some respects this may be termed the Augustan age of poetry; for never, since the revival of letters, has so much exquisite verse been poured forth within an equal period, as within the last twelve or fifteen years; yet, on the other hand, never within our recollection has so much wretched rhyme been obtruded on the notice of the public, as we have had the misery to wade through in the course of the last eighteen months. To trace this offensive superflux to its proper source would not suit our present limits; though we feel constrained to say, that it must be in a great measure attributed to the erratic wanderings of Sir Walter Scott and Lord Byron, and their imbecile followers of the Cockney School: a school which, thank heaven, is sinking rapidly into utter contempt" NS 28 (Supplement, 1823) 305.



Some with affected scorn disdain thee, Life,
Yet live to talk of this their proud disdain;
Some, truly wearied with unhappy strife,
Would not retrace thy fleeting course again;
Some die while living; most exist in vain,
And pass away as if they had not been:
For me, within thy precincts I'd remain
Till with due glory I can quit the scene;
From thee, till then, I can't my fond affections wean.

Thou had such store of pleasures for the soul,
Pleasures which to have shared we ne'er repent,
And, each day, winding out thy lessening scroll,
Dost heap our knowledge with a sweet consent;
Yet less we value what thy hand has lent,
Than th' unseen remnant which thou dost withhold,
For man's vain race is ever madly bent
To think the future wove of richest gold,
While what is past they hate, as brittle, base and old.

In this I also differ with my kind,
Viewing the far-seen texture of the past
As a sweet bed, on which my soul reclined
While drinking in youth's visions wild and vast;
No look of vain regret I backward cast,
Nor wish one nook of all the scene erased;
But place the passing moment with the last,
And see them trooping off quite unamazed,
As shepherd views his flocks when they have fully grazed.

Thrice happy they, who every day can say,
Would that the present time might last for ever!
And though they know that like a shade away
They pass, relax not in the proud endeavour
To raise the trophy that no time shall sever
From its wide base upon th' eternal world:
What Genius and what Virtue props can never
Stoop to the dust, though Death his missiles hurl'd,
Each shore dispeopling where Fame's banners stream unfurl'd.

New nations faster rise than Death can waste;
As on heaven's champaign, when the warring wind
Drives fierce the clouds, more speedy than his haste
The thickening darking volumes stream behind,
The infinite ocean with the sun combined
Lifting the endless masses from the deep,
Laugh Eolus to scorn, and make him find
How vain his rage! till, tired, his monsters creep
Within their hollow caves to roar themselves to sleep.

This thought adds sharpness to the thirst of fame,
And smooths the toil of many a midnight hour;
For who would not an ark-like fabric frame,
Endued by Genius with the wondrous power,
To bear, in spite of storms and wasting shower,
His freighted name earth's living deluge o'er;
Since Time in vain shall hunger to devour
The growing myriads, and with sceptre hoar,
Shall scan th' eternal race increasing wore and more.

[pp. 364-65]