1820
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Versification of the Prose Part of Satan's Speech in the Christiad of H. Kirke White.

The Legend of St. Loy; with other Poems. By John Abraham Heraud.

John Abraham Heraud


Four Spenserians versify part of the unfinished portion of Henry Kirke White's Christiad, posthumously published by Robert Southey in Remains (1807). The stanzas are dated "17th August, 1819." John Abraham Heraud, a young London writer who aspired to present himself as a new Kirke White in correspondence with Kirke White's editor Robert Southey, went on to compose original religious epics, The descent into Hell (1830) and The Judgement of the Flood (1834). The volume opens with a "Sonnet on first reading the Remains of Henry Kirke White." Heraud was at this time a frequent contributor to the poetry columns of the Gentleman's Magazine.



Ye Powers of Hell! no coward's is my soul—
Of old I proved it. — Who the forces led
That shook Jehovah's throne above the pole?
Who with Ithuriel coped? — the thunders dread
Of the Omnipotent? — Who, when ye fled,
Followed by wrath and flame, — who waked ye first
From that infernal lake, your burning bed,
To fell revenge? Who dared alone the worst,
And through the void obscure, from out the prison burst?

Who brought ye o'er the unfathomable abyss,
To this delightful world, and bade ye reign?
Mine was the peril — yours possession, bliss—
I won — and ye enjoyed the new domain,
The thrones that totter now — then who shall stain
My valour, chiefs, with doubt that I would lose
Tamely the power I had such toil to gain?
Yon treacherous fiend? — what he! shall he traduce
The strength of Satan's Sword, who breathes but by abuse—

Lives but on death — on the defenceless preys—
Who sucks the blood of infants — doth delight
But in ignoble cruelty, and sways
Unequal strife? — Away! thou bane of fight!
Who shunn'st the day, and lurkest for the night,
To hover like a cormorant, o'er the plains,
And feed upon the flesh of wounded knight,
And drench the last drop from his bleeding veins,
And greatly triumph o'er a hero's dying pains!

True bravery is from rashness as remote
As trembling hesitation, O my peers!—
Then be our counsel cool, and calm our thought,
Not warped by fury, nor subdued by fears;
That Resolution, stedfast as the spheres,
Fixed — fierce as Hell — our purposes may rear!
The time which lost us Heaven by proof declares,
Than Power is His who doth the thunder bear,—
But Subtlety is ours — we are his equals there!

[pp. 216-18]