1784
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Ode IV. To Spring.

Sonnets and other Poems; with a Versification of the Six Bards of Ossian. By S. Egerton Brydges

Sir Samuel Egerton Brydges


A descriptive ode dated "April 14, 1784." Samuel Egerton Brydges, then an obscure student at the Inns of Court, adapts the form of Milton's companion poems to a traditional georgic theme. As usual with Brydges, the imagery and diction betray the influence of William Collins and the Wartons.

Charles Burney: "This collection, which is attributed to S. Egerton Brydges, Esq; consists of sixteen Sonnets, five Odes, a Versification of the Six Bards of Ossian, Translations of three Odes of Horace, and two copies of Verses. Of these many have merit. The Author possesses a good share of fancy, and some powers of versification; but there is a degree of stiffness in his manner, which will frequently displease those readers whose ears are habituated to easy, flowing numbers" Monthly Review 73 (November 1785) 391.

Epes Sargent: "Sir Samuel Egerton Brydges (1762-1837) first saw the light at the manor-house of Wootton, between Canterbury and Dover. By his mother, an Egerton, he claimed to have inherited the most illustrious blood of Europe. Having entered Queen's College, Cambridge, he left it without a degree. He tried the law, was admitted to the Bar, but made no mark as a lawyer. In 1785 he published a volume of poems; and in 1814 his volume of Occasional Poems appeared. His Bertram, a poem, was given to the world in 1815. Byron writes of him as "a strange but able old man." He was immensely proud of his noble ancestry, sensitive, and morbidly anxious for literary fame, as some of his sonnets show. The latter part of his life, having involved himself in pecuniary embarrassments, he resided chiefly in Geneva. His sonnet upon Echo and Silence was pronounced by Wordsworth the best sonnet in the language; and Southey said he knew of none more beautifully imaginative — commendation that now must seem extravagant and inappropriate. Brydges was too self-conscious, introspective, and jealous of what he thought his dues, to warble and 'native wood-notes wild.' His long poems have little poetic value; but he shows imaginative power, and some of the high gifts of the poet. He edited with much ability an edition of Milton, which was republished in New York, and is still in demand" Harper's Cyclopaedia of British and American Poetry (1882) 264.



Hence, Winter, gloomy power!
Beneath thine iron rod we groan too long;
Nor vernal sight, nor song
Hath yet awoke to sooth the lagging hour.
Go, with thy loathed band,
Where hills of ice, and snowy mountains rise,
Whose strength the sun defies:
There, amid dismal caves, and icy thrones,
Dispense thine horrid frowns;
While storms, and hail, and wind for ever fill the land.
But come, soft Spring, no more delay
To bless us with thy genial sway!
Thy beams have yet but faintly shone,
By storms, and darkness soon o'erblown;
No fost'ring warmth they yet have fled
To wake the verdure of the mead;
To ope the primrose' wild perfume,
Or rear to life the vi'let's bloom.
Then come, sweet nymph, with fixed pace!
The tyrant shall with fearful face
Behold far off thy steady beams,
And haste away his ragged teams.
O come, thou Queen of gay delights,
Tho' late, to bless our longing sights!
Flow'rs shall spring up beneath thy way,
And earth, and air, and seas be gay.
Adown the mountain's woody side
The tumbling torrent shall subside;
And the whistling wind no more
Thro' the castle's turrets roar;
But rills shall lulling music keep,
And spires, and battlements shall peep
With glittering hue, amid the shade,
While shepherds' pipes shall from the glade
Echo sweet; and virgins gay,
With fresh-bloom'd cheeks, to hear them play,
Shall issue from the castle's bounds,
And dance to thee their merry rounds.
On shadowy greens to thee the Fays
Shall there a moon-light altar raise;
And there, by Cynthia's paly rays,
Will I to thee my orgies pay!—
Meads shall smile, the frisking flock
Shall bleat from valley, and from rock;
And oft at fold their tinkling bell
Shall wake the Poet's pensive shell;
To thee by twilight he shall sing,
Sooth'd by the air soft-murmuring.
At morn, from furrow'd lands afar,
Plowmen's songs shall tend thy ear;
And the woodman's echoing stroke,
That too often hath awoke
The genius of the deepen'd wood
From the still shades of his abode.
But within the fertile vale,
Daisied pastures shall not fail,
With flowrets wild of ev'ry hue,
To ope their blossoms to thy view;
While the steeple-bells shall ring,
And down the wave their echoes fling,
Which, soften'd by the warbling wind,
With extacies shall fill the mind.
In yonder pansied meadow's bound,
With hills, and wood enclos'd around,
My love, and I will wildly stray,
To pick each flower, that drinks the ray.
May her enchanting form no fate,
Like that unhappy maid's, await,
Whom gloomy Dis by force convey'd
To his low region's dismal shade!
For she, sad nymph, had only stray'd
To bask amid thy fragrant blooms,
And fill her lap with thy perfumes,
When he, black God! with grim delight,
Bore the wild maid to endless night.
Ah, no! I never will profane
With gloomy fears thy joyous reign;
But, while this youthful blood shall sport
Within my veins, I thee will court;
The pleasures of thy train will join,
And hail thy blooming nymphs divine;
To them my tales of love repeat,
And mark, how thy prolific heat
On their soft cheeks bids blushes rise,
And sheds sweet languor o'er their eyes.

If hoary locks my temples shade,
Ere in the peaceful grave I'm laid,
Then may I haunt the rural hall,
Round which the rooks, with clamorous call,
To thee their early rites begin,
Far from the peopled city's din;
And wak'd by them, at dawning day,
Watch how the buds their leaves display;
And sooth'd by them, when Eve shall come,
Mark their thick flocks returning home!
Awhile contentious strife, and noise,
And loud complaint, their rest destroys;
But by degrees the tumults close,
The murmurers sink to calm repose,
While thus I watch them to their nest,
Sooth'd by soft sympathy to rest,
Sweet slumbers o'er mine eyes will creep,
And in mild dreams my fancy steep.

Thus, Spring, with thee I'll pass my day,
Thus sooth my evening hours away;
Thus, as I totter on life's brink,
To my last slumbers softly sink.

[pp. 26-31]