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VI ('High in the air exposed the slave is hung')
A CENTURY OF SONNETS
171. To a Goose
If thou didst feed on western plains of yore;
Or waddle wide with flat and flabby feet
Over some Cambrian mountain's plashy moor;
Or find in farmer's yard a safe retreat
From gypsy thieves, and foxes sly and fleet;
If thy gray quills, by lawyer guided, trace
Deeds big with ruin to some wretched race,
Or love-sick poet's sonnet, sad and sweet,
Wailing the rigor of his lady fair;
Or if, the drudge of housemaid's daily toil,
Cobwebs and dust thy pinions white besoil,
Departed Goose! I neither know nor care.
But this I know, that we pronounced thee fine,
Seasoned with sage and onions, and port wine.
A wrinkled, crabbed man they picture thee,
Old Winter, with a rugged beard as gray
As the long moss upon the apple-tree;
Blue-lipped, an ice-drop at thy sharp blue nose,
Close muffled up, and on thy dreary way,
Plodding alone through sleet and drifting snows.
They should have drawn thee by the high-heaped hearth,
Old Winter! seated in thy great armed chair,
Watching the children at their Christmas mirth;
Or circled by them as thy lips declare
Some merry jest or tale of murder dire,
Or troubled spirit that disturbs the night,
Pausing at times to rouse the moldering fire,
Or taste the old October brown and bright.
Edward Gardner was the friend of Thomas Chatterton and published a variety of essays and poems. His volume Miscellanies, in Prose and Verse (1798) includes, among other curiosities, several sonnets and an essay on Anna Seward's
poetical novel Louisa (1784). His life is now largely obscure.
173. Written in Tintern Abbey, Monmouthshire
Admiring stranger, that with ling'ring feet,
Enchained by wonder, pauses on this green;
A CENTURY OF SONNETS
Where thy enraptured sight the dark woods meet,
Ah! rest awhile, and contemplate the scene.
These hoary pillars clasped by ivy round,
This hallowed floor by holy footsteps trod,
The mold'ring choir by spreading moss embrowned,
Where fasting saints devoutly hymned their God.
Unpitying Time, with slow but certain sweep,
Has laid, alas! their ancient splendor low:
Yet here let pilgrims, while they muse and weep,
Think on the lesson that from hence may flow.
Like theirs, how soon may be the tottering state
Of man,—the temple of a shorter date.
174. To Love
Ah dear associate of youth's tender days,
When round my heart my Laura's charms entwined:
When ardent sighs quick blew the kindling rays,
That flashed the flames of frenzy on the mind.
Art thou of human kind the dreadful curse?
For sure thy poisons cauterize the soul;
Or of contentment sweet the soothing nurse,
When o'er the swelling heart thy mighty raptures roll.
O thou art both, for midst the pangs of pain,
Warm hope and joy in quick succession flow,
And floods of bliss too mighty to sustain,
A moment check the bitter waves of woe.
Still varying Goddess, still we bow to thee,
Thou daughter bland of Sensibility.
Joseph Hucks was a close friend of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, with whom he
made a walking tour through Wales, recorded in Hucks's Pedestrian Tour
through North Wales (1795). During their walk, Hucks contributed to the
conception of Coleridge and Southey's Utopian scheme, "Pantisocracy." He
was educated at Eton and St. Catherine's Hall, Cambridge. His sonnet "To
Freedom" demonstrates something of the revolutionary fervor for democracy characteristic of the 1790s. He died while still a young man.
A CENTURY OF SONNETS
175. To Freedom
On Gallia's land I saw thy faded form,
Dim through the midnight mist—the rock thy bed—
The livid lightning flashed, and the wild storm
Fell blasting, keen, and loud, around thy head,
And Peace sat by, and poured forth many a tear.
To other realms I marked thy mournful flight,
While slowly bursting from the clouds of night,
Gleamed the pale moon upon thy blunted spear.
Though exiled still from Europe's purple plain,
Oh! fly not, Freedom! from our happier shore;
The tyrant's frown, or anarchy's wild train,
Too long do Gallia's harassed sons deplore:
But never from old Ocean's favorite isle,
Freedom! withdraw thy renovating smile.
Anna Seward's Elegy on Captain Cook (1780) won applause from Samuel
Johnson.When her friend Major John Andre was hanged in America as a traitor for conspiring with Benedict Arnold, she published a long elegy, Monody
on the Death of Major Andre (1781), which won her instant fame. Louisa, a
Poetical Novel in Four Epistles (1784), a highly experimental novel in verse,
went through five editions; Llangollen Vale (1796) commemorates female
friendship. Seward's Miltonic Original Sonnets on Various Subjects; and Odes
Paraphrased from Horace (1799) demonstrate technical prowess by adhering to
strict rules of sonnet form. Walter Scott edited Seward's Poetical Works (1810).
Jane West called her "the British Sappho."
176. 'When Life's realities the Soul perceives'
When Life's realities the Soul perceives
Vain, dull, perchance corrosive, if she glows
With rising energy, and open throws
The golden gates of genius, she achieves
His fairy clime delighted, and receives
In those gay paths, decked with the thornless rose,
Blest compensation.—Lo! with altered brows
Lours the false world, and the fine spirit grieves;
No more young Hope tints with her light and bloom
The darkening scene.—Then to ourselves we say,
Come, bright Imagination, come! relume
Thy orient lamp; with recompensing ray
A CENTURY OF SONNETS
Shine on the mind, and pierce its gathering gloom
With all the fires of intellectual day!
177. To a Friend, Who Thinks Sensibility a Misfortune
Ah, thankless! canst thou envy him who gains
The Stoic's cold and indurate repose?
Thou! with thy lively sense of bliss and woes!—
From a false balance of life's joys and pains
Thou deem'st him happy.—Placed 'mid fair domains,
Where full the river down the valley flows,
As wisely might'st thou with thy home had rose
On the parched surface of unwatered plains,
For that, when long the heavy rain descends,
Bursts over guardian banks their whelming tide!—
Seldom the wild and wasteful flood extends,
But, spreading plenty, verdure, beauty wide,
The cool translucent stream perpetual bends,
And laughs the vale as the bright waters glide.
178. 'By Derwent's rapid stream as oft I strayed'
By Derwent's rapid stream as oft I strayed,
With Infancy's light step and glances wild,
And saw vast rocks, on steepy mountains piled,
Frown o'er the umbrageous glen; or pleased surveyed
The cloudy moonshine in the shadowy glade,
Romantic Nature to the enthusiast child
Grew dearer far than when serene she smiled,
In uncontrasted loveliness arrayed.
But O! in every scene, with sacred sway,
Her graces fire me; from the bloom that spreads
Resplendent in the lucid morn of May,
To the green light the little glow-worm sheds
On mossy banks, when midnight glooms prevail,
And softest silence broods o'er all the dale.
179. 'Seek not, my Lesbia, the sequestered dale'
Seek not, my Lesbia, the sequestered dale,
Or bear thou to its shades a tranquil heart;
Since rankles most in solitude the smart
Of injured charms and talents, when they fail
To meet their due regard;—nor e'en prevail
Where most they wish to please:—Yet, since thy part
Is large in Life's chief blessings, why desert