1792
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Sonnets.

Poems, by F. Sayers, M.D.

Dr. Frank Sayers


Two of the three sonnets in Frank Sayers's Poems are written in the manner of Spenser. While history unfolds in France, and ambition points to London, the poet resolves to pursue quiet studies in Norwich: "Me gentle Peace accoys, | Her cup is heavenly sweet, undash'd with gall, | Yblest in her with slow and secret tread | I wander loitering in the arched grove" p. 199. The point of reference may be James Thomson's Castle of Indolence. The second sonnet is reprinted in Capel Lofft's Laura (1814) under the title "Love of Peace, Poetry, and Solitude. In imitation of the old English Manner." The first sonnet on France was suppressed after Sayers's politics took a more conservative turn.

As a boy, Frank Sayers had studied poetry under Anna Laetitia Barbauld; after spending his early life studying medicine, he converted to Anglicanism and devoted himself to literary and antiquarian studies. By all accounts, he lived the kind of retired life advocated in these sonnets. The "Dramatic Sketches of Northen Mythology" that comprise the bulk of this early volume were influential on his friend Robert Southey. In his Poetical Works (1830) is a sonnet addressed to Chaucer "As if by a contemporary writer."

Robert Southey: "he was contented to float down the stream of years, amusing himself sometimes with architectural and antiquarian pursuits, with minute historical inquiries, with correcting and re-correcting his poems and essays, and re-considering his corrections, — sometimes, but rarely, with composing occasional verses, and sometimes with sending a paper to the Quarterly Review. The only thing in which he was active, was in doing good" "Sayers's Works" Quarterly Review 35 (1827) 220.

W. Davenport Adams: "Frank Sayers, poet (b. 1763, d. 1817), published Dramatic Sketches of the Ancient Northern Mythology (1790), Disquisitions, Metaphysical and Literary (1793), Nugae Poeticae (1803), Miscellanies (1805), and other works, the whole being collected and issued, with a Life, by William Taylor, of Norwich, in 1823" Dictionary of English Literature (1878) 552.



Tho' manly ardour in thy bosom glows
While Freedom's banners wave on Gallia's plain,
While Freedom's clarion sounds th' inspiring strain,
And millions, starting from a base repose,
Sweep from their sickening land the oppressive woes
Of Slavery's gloomy desolating reign;
And fiercely bursting from the despot's chain
Dash from the haughty throne their tyrant foes;
Amidst the tempest's howl and wild uproar
Ere yet the shatter'd nation sinks to rest,
Cast a fond look on Britain's peaceful shore
Nor chace her blessings from thy kindling breast
Here soft Affection spreads her graceful store,
And Friendship calls thee where no storms molest.

In vain doth Grandeur trick'd in gorgeous pall,
Stalk stately by, and point to glittering joys,
In vain doth Mammon spread his gilded toys,
To lure a careless wight to bitter thrall,
In vain doth loudly-laughing Pleasure call
To loose delights and days of mirthful noise,
Hence, hated fiends — Me gentle Peace accoys,
Her cup is heavenly sweet, undash'd with gall,
Yblest in her with slow and secret tread
I wander loitering in the arched grove,
Fancy's gay dreams aye dancing round my head,
There jolly elves at midnight nimbly move
Their dainty feet, and shades of mighty dead
Glide pale athwart my path. Such seems the Muses love.

Ah, wretched wight! whom Fame shall tempt to leave
The soft and silent valley of Repose,
And with her deeply-stirring voice deceive
To deeds of thankless toil and weary woes;
Ah, wretched wight! who stays ne to perceive
The thorns that threat'ning gird the peerless rose,
But hopes unharm'd he may a wreath receive
Of deathless flowerets to bedeck his brows—
Look up! — afore the beamy towers of Fame
What fell and ghastly fiends for ever wait,
Envy, whose baleful vipers none can tame,
And Disappointment of slow sullen gait,
And with her eyes abash'd heart-damping Shame;
Fly, fly to fair Repose, nor scorn so sweet a mate.

[pp. 198-200]