1798
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Lines on a tall Tree, which stands as a Road Mark, where the Author very frequently walked.

Monthly Mirror 6 (September 1798) 178-79.

Capel Lofft


Two irregular Spenserians (ababbbcC) signed "Capel Lofft." The poet compares himself to a lofty tree, imagining himself and the tree growing old together. The poem is one of Lofft's first appearances in the Monthly Mirror, through which he would later make the acquaintance of Henry Kirke White. In February of 1799 he contributed a sequel to report that he had in fact outlived the tree, which had since fallen victim to "the cruel Axe!" The sequel describes this poem as a "sonnet" — apparently Lofft had yet to take up the fervent adherence to the Petrarchan model displayed in his five-volume anthology of sonnets, Laura (1814).



Fair Tree, my guide so oft upon my way,
Through wind, rain, snow, and nights with clouds obscure;
Grateful to me, as beams the far-seen ray
To sea-boat mariners, pledge of port secure;—
Ah, that for ages thou might'st yet endure,
And see a thousand crops their growth mature;
And still a virgin train of aspect bland,
View pleas'd thy neighb'ring shade; thy height the road command.

Much of my joys, and cares, and hopes, and fears,
Since thee first seen, on life's still wing has flown:
And thin the promise of remaining years,
When the full foliage time's keen blast hath strewn.
Soon may I stand all friend-reft and alone;
As leafless thou soon to the blast shalt moan;
Thy verdant honours spring may oft review;
Man on the grave alone hopes heaven's reviving dew.

[pp. 178-79]