1807
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

La Corona. The Wreath.

Laura: or an Anthology of Sonnets, (on the Petrarcan Model,) and Elegiac Quaruorzains. 5 vols. [Capel Lofft, ed.]

Capel Lofft


Capel Lofft concludes his anthology of 1,000 sonnets with "La Corona," a cycle of fifteen. The sixth is devoted to British sonneteers, and includes Spenser's name. Much of the anthology consists of translations of sonnets from the Italian, though there are several hundred English sonnets old and new. Because Lofft's collection is largely restricted to sonnets on the Petrarchan model, there are very few of the Spenserian model, or for that matter very few from the English renaissance.

Gentleman's Magazine: "The compiler of this extensive work deserves the thanks of the admirers of Poetry for having brought into one view the elegant productions of so many Countries, and thus enabled them to form an accurate judgment of their respective places in the scale of merit. We can well imagine that a long period was required for collecting 999 Sonnets, including the Translations; and we feel a pleasure in learning, that Mr. Lofft found them the gratification of many happy, and the solace of many anxious hours, during twelve years; which he benevolently hopes may be their effect on the minds of his Readers; and this, he tells us in his Preface, he has reason to expect, from the general influence of poetry, and the shortness and variety of these compositions, which adapt them to the diversity of circumstances acting on the affections and feelings of mankind" 84 (November 1814) 452-53.



I.
Here end, industrious BEE, thy lov'd career;
Enricht ftom many a flowret's honied veins;
Where'er the bright PHOEBE'AN Circle reigns,
And fragrance breathes through the poetic Sphere;
The blended Sweets of many a radiant Year,
The happy produce of ITALIAN plains,
SPAIN, FRANCE, thy native BRITAIN'S fair domains;—
Rest, pleas'd with the collected Treasure, here.
The Worth of Verse is given to few to know;
And on the SONNET fewer still bestow
That Wreath which Taste, Feeling, and Judgement twine.
Yet with those few peculiar is its Claim,
I see it's Glory rise; I see it's Name
Grace the celestial LYRE in Characters divine.

II.
Enricht from many a Flowret's honied veins,
Fragrant with Nectar from the heavenly Sphere,
I see the full poetic Hive appear,
Which treasur'd Sweets of Centuries contains!
No latent Venom the blest Produce stains;
All chaste Delights the ARCADIAN Prize endear.
Mild and salubrious Charms inhabit here;
Every unhallow'd lip their Taste disdains.
They only love it who with Ardour glow
For Wisdom, Virtue, Beauty; and refine
Their Souls by these from every baser claim.
For these with flavor smiles, unknown below,
The ambrosian Banquet, and the nectar'd Shrine,
Exhaustless, varying still, yet still the same.

III.
WHERE'ER the bright PHOEBE'AN Circle reigns,
And in clear Chastity, sweet though severe,
Celestial BEAUTY charms the admiring Trains,
And deigns to radiate on our earthly Sphere,
Those favor'd Climes the MUSE'S Voice revere.
Pure are their Pleasures; e'en endear'd their Pains;
Living, belov'd; honor'd in their Remains:
High Candidates for Heaven's eternal Year!
Such GUIDI, PETRARCH such! And such the flow
Of that exalted, pure ethereal flame
With which the Lays of FULVIO, CELIO, glow;
With which the great LORENZO, honor'd name,
And, Guardian Shepherd, CRESCEMBENI, thine,
The Friend and Guide of those who love the immortal NINE!

IV.
What fragrance breathes through the poetic Sphere!
How lovely on the HELICONIAN Plains
The sacred LAUREL in blest Verdure reigns,
And triumphs in it's never-changing Year!
Where Blights and envious Mildew come not near,
Nor stormy Winds are felt, nor angry Rains,
Nor boisterous Hail invades the bright Domains,
Nor Snow, nor chilling Frosts, the Blossoms fear.
But on PARNASSUS cloudless Ether flows:
The MYRTLE and the fragrant Mountain-ROSE
Bloom, and soft Moons, o'erspread with tender Flame
Those Heights, to Peace devote and deathless Fame,
And through the Vales breathes the harmonious Line,
And TRUMPET, FLUTE, and LYRE, waken'd by hands divine.

V.
The blended Sweets of many a radiant Year,
Lov'd POESY, are thine: — nor oft complains
The Heart where thy benignant Presence reigns,
Nor yields to sordid Hopes, or to base Fear.
The Soothing MUSES, and their Smiles are near,
To charm all earthly Sorrows, Cares, and Pains;
Whispering immortal Accents in the ear,
And Tones which calm Despair's infuriate Veins.
Fortune at will her gaudy Snares may throw
Ambition win from wasted Realms a name
Their's is a happier and a purer Fame;
A Bliss nor Wealth nor Power can e'er bestow:
To soothe, and as they elevate, refine,—
This the Glory of the SACRED NINE!

VI.
The happy Produce of ITALIAN Plains,
Of Gales which ARNO and which SORGA cheer,
And TIBER, whom the MUSES selves revere,
And MINCIO, resonant with happiest Strains.
What studious ART and vivid NATURE gains,
Thoughts, which the Fang of Time nor Envy fear,
Numbers, to the harmonious Sisters dear;
Words, in which every Grace and every Beauty reigns.
In search of these with perseverance go,
Whoe'er on POESY wouldst build thy Fame:
These to the GRECIAN and the LATIAN Name
Bid added Charms unite their lovely Glow.
The peaceful triumph, ITALY, is thine,
With these new Wreaths to grace the MUSES' Shrine.

VII.
See, from our native BRITAIN'S fair Domains,
With friendly Emulation, BARDS appear!
See them the TUSCAN MUSES' Banner rear,
And waft VALCHIUSA to our sterner Plains:
Hear gentle SPENSER, gallant SYDNEY'S strains;
The DRUMMONDS, to the Woodland Sisters dear;
MILTON, who soars to HARMONY'S pure Sphere;
And WHITE, whom Heaven to lend no longer deigns,
Here the sweet Notes of British SAPPHO flow,
Memorials. of a pure and tenderest Flame;
SEWARD; — and SMITH'S heart-soothing strains of Woe,
Who sought Repose, but won immortal Fame:
Her's the soft flowing elegiac Line;
Her's, the true SONNET'S beauteous Maze to twine.

VIII.
Rest, pleas'd with the collected Treasure here;
Nor envy either India's proud Domains:
Not Gold, nor Diamonds, nor pearly Grains
In the Aegyptian Queen's luxurious ear,
Of any Lustre in that eye appear,
Which sees what Splendor with the MUSES reigns:
Rays, which no Glare of earthly pomp profanes;
Glories, which rise to Heaven's eternal Sphere.
When to the MUSE compar'd, how poor, how low
The peals which rend the throat of vulgar Fame,
And echo round Destruction's cruel Shrine!
Her's the innoxious, the benignant, Flame
Which Reason, Goodness, Truth, and Heaven know,
Sent to "exalt our mortal to Divine."

IX.
The Worth of Verse is given to few to know:
To few with happy art it's Wreath to twine,
And with that high and blissful Ardor glow
Which flames perpetual at the MUSES' shrine!
And yet is Verse of Origin Divine,
Whence Order, Harmony, and Beauty, flow:
And happiest they whose Spirits most incline
To that pure Good; — Heaven's loveliest Gift below.
From HEAVEN, LOVE, BEAUTY, POESY, first came:
And to it's Source as tends aspiring Flame,
They seek their proper Home, th' ethereal Plains.
To HEAVEN they raise us while sojourning here,
The Heart attempering by the eye and ear,
To Realms where HARMONY most perfect reigns.

X.
In days when on the SONNET few bestow
Just praise, and many contumelious blame,
These Pages, just to it's illustrious Name,
It's firm and ample Base of Glory show.
The first in generous States, the first to know,
The first in virtuous Action, Arts of Fame,
To Friendship, Love, and every noble Claim,
To Nature and to Heaven, taught it to flow.
SHAKESPEARE his-self disdain'd not to confine
Within this little Space a Muse that reigns
Empress of human Thoughts, and Cares, and Pains;
Although the lighter QUATUORZAIN to rear
He chose, and shunn'd the oft recurrent line
Though beauteous, the sweet Fruit of Toil austere.

XI.
That WREATH which Fancy, Taste, and Judgement twine,
Of graceful texture, undulating flow;
Whose Blossoms aptly intermingled glow,
Whose Foliage shades the Temples of the NINE:—
Never should He of Chance or Fate repine,
Or envy aught which Men admire below,
To whom his favoring Destinies assign
Those Flow'rs, which unimpair'd through Ages blow.
Sweet is the fragrance of the vernal Plains;
Lovely the Summer Sun's ascending shine;
Solemn the tinted shade where Autumn reigns,
Of wintry Snows the wide-extended line:
But sweeter, lovelier, in her high career,
More aweful, charms the MUSE the listening ear.

XII.
Still with some few peculiar is the Claim
Of Verse; — Yet some, the POET who revere,
Receive the SONNET with attentive ear,
And dwell, with fond delight, on LAURA'S name.
SHE lives, secure of never-ceasing Fame,
The radiant Sovereign of a lucid Sphere;
Such as the MUSE'S breath at once can rear;
Bright Emanation of celestial Flame.
Short is the date our Lives on Earth must know:
Still shorter Beauty's soft enchanting glow;
Soon fall the Streams from Wealth and Power which flow:
Not thus shall LAURA and her PETRARCH shine;
Their Glory rolling Ages but refine:
TIME consecrates the genuine POET'S line.

XIII.
I see it's Glory rise; I see it's Name
Revive and flourish on our BRITISH Plains;
I see what Band the SONNET'S claim maintains,
And renovates it's Wreath of deathless Fame!
Oblivious we were of MILTON'S claim,
This Province of Renown his MUSE regains,
Though small, yet precious 'mid his vast Domains;
This Orb, refulgent with his vivid Flame.
The Shades retire; the Beams of Morning shine;
The cold damp Mists of Error disappear,
Beneath the genial Warmth dissolves the Snow.
PETRARCAN MUSE, the Victory is thine!
Propitious and belov'd thy Influence here:
Our Northern Clime feels its delightful Glow.

XIV.
Grace the celestial LYRE in Characters divine,
Long injur'd SONNET! whom the Crowd arraigns;
And as a mere frivolity disdains,
An empty toy of many a tinkling line;
Incapable of Great and High Design.
But let those Scoffers view Earth's various Plains,
Strive to exalt their Thoughts to Heaven's Domains,
Then say, if aught sublime or beauteous shine
Of which some Ray hath not illum'd thy Sphere.
What noblest Wonders Land and Sea can claim,
What Beauties Art and Nature most endear,
What Arms or Letters own of purest Fame,
What Science, Virtue, Piety, revere,
Have dwelt within the SONNET'S little Frame.

XV.
Here end, my MUSE, thy long, thy lov'd Career;
Here bound thy flight, who from the Italian Plains
Hast brought those gentle, pure, and polish'd Chains,
To the PHOE BE'AN Choir for ever dear.
Those who for FREEDOM rais'd the generous Spear,
In whose blest Verse divine PARNASSUS reigns,
With heavenly BEAUTY who inspir'd their Strains;
Whom every VIRTUE loves, all ARTS revere,
Cherisht the SONNET of harmonious flow.
Here GUIDI, CINO, DANTE, ANGELO,
And the PETRARCAN sweetest graces shine;
The MEDICE'AN, SANNAZARIAN Name,
The Wreath of TASSO, the VITTORIAN Fame;
Here the MILTONIAN PALM, and BRITISH HARP divine.

[5:Sig. CCC-CCC4v]