1789
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Sonnet to Poesy.

General Evening Post (15 September 1789).

William Hamilton Reid


William Hamilton Reid, a prolific writer for the periodical press, sings the praises of poetry. In this sonnet the impoverished poet compares identifies himself Spenser's sorrows and sources of inspiration: "Such rais'd the exil'd bard of yore, | Whose shade still frowns on Mulla's joyless side." Sonnets were becoming frequent fare in the General Evening Post, including a rare sonnet sequence in 1790 based on Romeo and Juliet.



Sweet Poesy! when I thy spirit feel
Hov'ring — I hail the blest Arcadian's reign;
And strait away, the sullen passions steal,
And balm dissolves each adamantine chain—
Thy mystic visions still to me reveal,
'Fore the mind's eye, bring valley, hill, or plain,
Turret nor tow'r, nor sea mark'd cliff conceal,
Nor haunt of elves, nor sport of village train.
Then, if 'tis mine, with eagle eye t' explore
Earth, air, or ocean, let the dull deride
Th' unpurchas'd bliss, that rapt with Nature's lore,
Would scorn th' exchange of opulence, or pride
Tasteless! Such rais'd the exil'd bard of yore,
Whose shade still frowns on Mulla's joyless side.

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