1816
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Verses written on seeing a beautiful Girl walking on the Banks of the Avon. The Elysium of Illustrious Beauties.

Juvenile Poems.

Chandos Leigh


Six quatrains: a somewhat elliptical piece of society verse, presumably addressed to one of the poet's neighbors in the west country. Alluding to Spenser, the poem imagines Elizabeth, Mary Queen of Scots, and Petrarch's Laura enjoying pastoral bliss on the banks of the River Avon, a bliss not shared by the poet. The volume was published anonymously. Later in life Leigh would inherit vast estates in Warwickshire.

The poem appears in a section of short poems entitled "Verses" appended to Liegh's Juvenile Poems in 1816 (?). The volume is continuously paginated. The section is introduced with a epigraphy from Spenser's Virgil's Gnat: "We now have playde, Augustus, wantonly | Tuning our song unto the tender Muse, | And like a cobweb weaving slenderly | Have only playde."

Preface: "In regard to my few verses, no one can have a less elevated opinion of them than I have, they were written (the amatory ones especially) in the fever of the moment, amid a life of folly and dissipation. I do not think that I ever shall be a candidate for literary fame. Less pleasing, though more useful employments, than that of writing verses must now occupy my mind" ix-x.



There ever dwells Belphoebe famed,
In Spenser's witching, high-soul'd verse:
There Mary dwells, whose beauty shamed
Elizabeth, her rival's curse:
Ambrosial air she breathes among
Dames, lovely as the blush of morn.
There wakes the gently-pleasing song,
Oppress'd no more by faction's scorn.
There Laura dreams; her Petrarch smiles
In beauteous vision o'er her head:
One dream alone the day beguiles;
Still, still remember'd when 'tis fled.
Reserved for these what brighter scenes
Shall freshen o'er their future years;
No cruel thought now intervenes
To pall their present bliss with fears;
For quaffing joy at ease they lie;
Or sportive course the meadows round:
The reedy loves their wants supply,
If wants they have, where all abound.
Ah fortunate! not their's the pain
Of seeing others in distress;
Not theirs to witness the disdain
That scowls on erring loveliness.

[pp. 70-72]