Henry James Pye

(20 February 1745 – 11 August 1813 / London, England)

Sent To Mr. Haley, On Reading His Epistles On Epic Poetry - Poem by Henry James Pye

What blooming garlands shall the Muses twine,
What verdant laurels weave, what flowers combine,
To crown their favorite Son whose generous heart
Has check'd the arrogance of Critic Art,
And shewn that still in their exhaustless mine
The purest gems of radiant Genius shine,
To grace the venturous Poets who explore
The unsun'd treasures of their sacred store?

Nor this the Syren note of flattering praise,
Or the fond tribute partial friendship pays;
A voice unknown to fame, to thee unknown,
But wak'd by thy superior worth alone,
Attempts, perhaps with too officious zeal,
Thy thoughts awhile from higher cares to steal,
And in presumptuous numbers dares essay
To hail the glories of thy matchless lay.

O fairest hope of Britain's tuneful Choir!
Why yield to other hands the Epic Wire?
Say who of all her Bards like thee shall swell
To strains of extasy th' Heroic shell?
When the long series of connecting rhime
Denies the raptur'd flight or march sublime
Who shall the interval so well beguile
With each rich ornament of polish'd style?
Who o'er the thrilling heart such forms shall throw
Of frantic horror, or pathetic woe?
Or when the notes from Freedom's clarion blown
Chill the pale Despot on his trembling throne,
What manly son of Britain's warbling throng
Shall join the Pæan with so bold a song?
And if inventive Fancy love to stray
'Mid the wild tracts of Fiction's faery way,
Say who shall mate those magic powers that stole
The nightly vision o'er Serena's soul?

Then let, illustrious Bard!—though rude her voice,
A Muse of humble mien divert thy choice.—
With timid hand snatch no reflected grace
From the sweet Maniac of Hesperian race.
Since Genius' keenest rays thy bosom fire
O strike with native force the British Lyre,
That, while such virtuous chiefs adorn thy strain
As Greece and Rome shall emulate in vain,
Albion may consecrate thy deathless name,
And found her Epic pride on Hayley's fame.

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Poem Submitted: Monday, September 27, 2010

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