1806
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Ode to War.

Gentleman's Magazine 76 (August 1806) 750.

A Youth of Sixteen


An allegorical ode in eight quatrains, not signed: "In blood, in horror, screams, and cries, | The siege, the open fight, | When round thee red destruction flies, | Dost thou, grim Fiend, delight." Raymond Dexter Havens includes this poem in his list of Milton imitations; the poet has certainly read William Collins. The poem appears with a companion "Ode to the Nightingale."

Headnote: "A constant Reader would be highly obliged by your inserting two poems, the productions of a youth of sixteen, without the least assistance from any of his friends. This age is so replete with the wonderful, that the following odes may, perhaps, appear no great exertions, or marks of genius, in a young man of the age mentioned; but, as they are altogether not without some degree of merit, I flatter myself you will expose them to the judgment of a candid publick. R. G." pp. 749-50.



Offspring of Chaos! dreadful War!
Grim-visag'd tyrant! hear my prayer,
To climes remote direct thy car,
But, oh! the sons of Britain spare.

Enough has slaughter sprung from thee,
Unpeopled half the world,
Nations enslav'd that once were free,
And ruin round him hurl'd.

Not all the ills on hapless man
Eternally that wait
Compare with thee, dread monster, can,
The thunderbolt of Fate.

In blood, in horror, screams, and cries,
The siege, the open fight,
When round thee red destruction flies,
Dost thou, grim Fiend, delight.

The conq'ring shout, the dying groan,
The sabres clash, the voice of fear,
The whirlwind roar, from cannons blown,
Is music to thy ear.

O, when shall Peace, descending, spare
The hapless sons of men,
Defeat the boiling rage of War,
And Britain court again?

Plenty and Ease attend her train;
Saturnian times of old
Then recommence their happy reign,
And turn the age to gold.

The smile illumines then the cheek
Of Industry's rude child,
And man content and joy may seek
Amidst the barren wild.

[p. 750]