1789
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Ode on a Distant Prospect of Nottingham after a long Absence.

Miscellaneous Poems by the Reverend Luke Booker, Minister of St. Edmund's, Dudley, Worcestershire.

Rev. Luke Booker


Six irregular Spenserians (ababccdD). The measure is that of Thomas Gray's Hymn to Adversity, though as the title would suggest, the inspiration would seem to be Gray's Eton College Ode. The poet compares his childhood memories of Nottingham to his later experience: "Oh! grant me, thus, again to rove, | Kind Heav'n! each Scene, each Field, and Grove; | Or stray, emblush'd with Ev'ning's crimson beam, | Where Trent, in placid mood, rolls by his rev'rent Stream" pp. 39-40.

Analytical Review: "We shall subjoin one of the miscellaneous piece [Ode on a Distant Prospect of Nottingham] to enable our readers to judge of the author's manner of writing: to us it appeared a laboured attempt at elegance, which seldom rises to prettiness, and often sinks into affectation. A dull kind of uniformity, which hangs like a fog over these poems, communicates its languid influence to the reader, who will not find any thing in the cold trite sentiments they contain, to rouse him out of his stupor" 8 (1790) 68.



Scene of my Birth and early Days!
Where many a varied Bliss I've known,
As thee I view fond Mem'ry strays
To Moments pass'd near thee alone;
All other scenes away retire,
Like the fal'n-meteor's lambent fire,
And leave the Mind unoccupied and free,
Possess'd and fill'd alone, my native Town! with Thee.

Much have I lov'd, and laugh'd, and wept
In the fair scenes which round thee smile;
Unpain'd by Manhood's Cares, have slept,
And undisturb'd by mental guile:
In youthful Sport and Frolic gay,
Life's transient Morning pass'd away.
Some truant-hours produc'd their after-pain;
But School Dominion o'er, young Pleasure smil'd again.

Thus checquer'd is our riper age
By Sorrow's oft succeeding Joy;
But new-born Blessings soon assuage
The griefs that form'd the late Alloy.—
This has my changeful Fortune been
While far from thee, my natal Scene!
Doom'd to Retirement or Life's busy round,
Alternate Grief and Joy Time's fleeting hours I've found.

Long may the Arts' effulgent Star
The Place distinguish of my birth!
Long may'st thou flourish, fam'd afar
For FREEDOM, TRUTH, and MANLY WORTH!
Long may the Labours of the Loom
Thy Sons defend from Want and Gloom,
Blessing thy peopled scene with Peace and Wealth!
And may thy Daughters fair long bloom in roseate Health!

With these, thy Nymphs of loveliest mien,
Happy have pass'd the light-wing'd hours,
In Park, or Plain, or Meadows green,
'Mid Sneiton's Rocks, or Colwick's Bow'rs;
Oh! grant me, thus, again to rove,
Kind Heav'n! each Scene, each Field, and Grove;
Or stray, emblush'd with Ev'ning's crimson beam,
Where Trent, in placid mood, rolls by his rev'rent Stream.

Like that fair Stream, when, thro' the meads,
His silver current, soft and slow,
With sweetly-varying course he leads,
May all my future moments flow!
May no disast'rous wintry Storm
With Sorrow swell, with Rage deform:
But, as his waves pass smoothly to the Sea,
So may Life's current glide to bless'd Eternity!

[pp. 37-40]