George Gordon Byron

 

 

      English Bards, and Scotch Reviewers.
                            A Satire

                              [Auszug]

 

 

TIME was, ere yet in these degenerate days
Ignoble themes obtained mistaken praise,
When Sense and Wit with Poesy allied,
No fabled Graces, flourished side by side,
From the same fount their inspiration drew,
And, rear'd by Taste, bloom'd fairer as they grew.
Then, in this happy Isle, a POPE'S pure strain
Sought the rapt soul to charm, nor sought in vain;
[2] A polish'd nation's praise aspir'd to claim,
And rais'd the people's, as the poet's fame.     10
Like him great DRYDEN pour'd the tide of song,
In stream less smooth indeed yet doubly strong.
Then CONGREVE'S scenes could cheer, or OTWAY'S melt;
For nature then an English audience felt –
But why these names, or greater still, retrace,
When all to feebler Bards resign their place?
Yet to such times our lingering looks are cast,
When taste and reason with those times are past.
Now look around, and turn each trifling page,
Survey the precious works that please the age;     20
This truth at least let Satire's self allow,
No dearth of Bards can be complain'd of now:
The loaded Press beneath her labour groans,
And Printers' devils shake their weary bones,
While SOUTHEY'S Epics cram the creaking shelves,
And LITTLE'S Lyrics shine in hot-press'd twelves.

[3] Behold! in various throngs the scribbling crew,
For notice eager, pass in long review:
Each spurs his jaded Pegasus apace,
And Rhyme and Blank maintain an equal race;     30
Sonnets on sonnets crowd, and ode on ode;
And Tales of Terror jostle on the road;
Immeasurable measures move along,
For simpering Folly loves a varied song,
To strange mysterious Dullness still the friend,
Admires the strain she cannot comprehend.
Thus Lays of Minstrels * – may they be the last! –
On half-strung harps whine mournful to the blast,
[4] While mountain spirits prate to river sprites,
That dames may listen to the sound at nights;     40
[5] And goblin-brats of Gilpin Horner's brood
Decoy young Border-nobles through the wood,
And skip at every step, Lord knows how high,
And frighten foolish babes, the Lord knows why,
While high-born ladies, in their magic cell,
Forbidding Knights to read who cannot spell,
Dispatch a courier to a wizard's grave,
And fight with honest men to shield a knave.

Next view in state, proud prancing on his roan,
The golden-crested haughty Marmion,     50
Now forging scrolls, now foremost in the fight,
Not quite a Felon, yet but half a Knight,
[6] The gibbet or the field prepar'd to grace;
A mighty mixture of the great and base.
And think'st thou, SCOTT! by vain conceit perchance,
On public taste to foist thy stale romance,
Though MURRAY with his MILLER may combine
To yield thy muse just half-a-crown per line?
No! when the sons of song descend to trade,
Their bays are sear, their former laurels fade.     60
Let such forego the poet's sacred name,
Who rack their brains for lucre, not for fame:
Low may they sink to merited contempt,
And scorn remunerate the mean attempt!
Such be their meed, such still the just reward
Of prostituted Muse and hireling bard!
For this we spurn Apollo's venal son,
And bid a long, "good night to Marmion." *

[7] These are the themes, that claim our plaudits now;
These are the Bards to whom the Muse must bow:     70
While MILTON, DRYDEN, POPE, alike forgot,
Resign their hallow'd Bays to WALTER SCOTT.

The time has been, when yet the Muse was young,
When HOMER swept the lyre, and MARO sung,
An Epic scarce ten centuries could claim,
While awe-struck nations hail'd the magic name:
The work of each immortal Bard appears
The single wonder of a thousand years *.
[8] Empires have moulder'd from the face of earth,     80
Tongues have expir'd with those who gave them birth,
Without the glory such a strain can give,
As even in ruin bids the language live.
Not so with us, though minor Bards content,
On one great work a life of labour spent:
With eagle pinion soaring to the skies,
Behold the Ballad-monger SOUTHEY rise!
To him let CAMOENS, MILTON, TASSO, yield,
Whose annual strains, like armies, take the field.
First in the ranks see Joan of Arc advance,
The scourge of England, and the boast of France!     90
Though burnt by wicked BEDFORD for a witch,
Behold her statue plac'd in Glory's niche;
Her fetters burst, and just releas'd from prison,
A virgin Phœnix from her ashes risen.
Next see tremendous Thalaba come on, *
Arabia's monstrous, wild, and wond'rous son;
[9] Domdaniel's dread destroyer, who o'erthrew
More mad magicians than the world e'er knew.
Immortal Hero! all thy foes o'ercome,
For ever reign – the rival of Tom Thumb!     100
Since startled metre fled before thy face,
Well wert thou doom'd the last of all thy race!
Well might triumphant Genii bear thee hence,
Illustrious conqueror of common sense!
Now, last and greatest, Madoc spreads his sails,
Cacique in Mexico, and Prince in Wales;
Tells us strange tales, as other travellers do,
More old than Mandeville's, and not so true.
Oh! SOUTHEY, SOUTHEY! * cease thy varied song!
A Bard may chaunt too often and too long:     110
[10] As thou art strong in verse, in mercy spare!
A fourth, alas! were more than we could bear.
But if, in spite of all the world can say,
Thou still wilt verseward plod thy weary way;
If still in Berkeley Ballads most uncivil,
Thou wilt devote old women to the devil, *
[11] The babe unborn thy dread intent may rue:
"God help thee" SOUTHEY, and thy readers too. *

Next comes the dull disciple of thy school,
That mild apostate from poetic rule,     120
The simple WORDSWORTH, framer of a lay
As soft as evening in his favourite May,
Who warns his friend "to shake off toil and trouble,
And quit his books for fear of growing double;"
[12] Who, both by precept and example, shows
That prose is verse, and verse is merely prose,
Convincing all by demonstration plain,
Poetic souls delight in prose insane;
And Christmas stories tortur'd into rhyme,
Contain the essence of the true sublime:     130
Thus when he tells the tale of Betty Foy,
The idiot mother of "an idiot Boy";
A moon-struck silly lad who lost his way,
And, like his bard, confounded night with day, *
[13] So close on each pathetic part he dwells,
And each adventure so sublimely tells.
That all who view the "idiot in his glory,"
Conceive the Bard the hero of the story.

Shall gentle COLERIDGE pass unnotic'd here,
To turgid ode, and tumid stanza dear?     140
Though themes of innocence amuse him best,
Yet still obscurity's a welcome guest.
If inspiration should her aid refuse,
To him who takes a Pixy for a Muse, *
Yet none in lofty numbers can surpass
The bard who soars to elegize an ass.
How well the subject suits his noble mind!
"A fellow feeling makes us wond'rous kind."

 

 

[Die Anmerkungen stehen als Fußnoten auf den in eckigen Klammern bezeichneten Seiten]

    [3] * See the "Lay of the Last Minstrel," passim. Never was any plan so incongruous and absurd as the ground-work of this production. The entrance of Thunder and Lightning prologuising to Bayes' Tragedy, unfortunately takes away the merit of originality from the dialogue between Messieurs the Spirits of Flood and Fell in the first canto. Then we have the amiable William of Deloraine, "a stark moss[4]trooper," videlicet, a happy compound of poacher, cheepstealer, and highwayman. The propriety of his magical lady's injunction not to read can only be equalled by his candid acknowledgment of his independence of the trammels of spelling, although, to use his own elegant phrase, "'twas his neck-verse at hairibee," i. e. the gallows.

    The biography of Gilpin Horner, and the marvellous pedestrian page, who travelled twice as fast as his master's horse, without the aid of seven leagued boots, are chef-d'œuvres in the improvement of taste. For incident we have the invisible, but by no means sparing, box on the ear bestowed on the page, and the entrance of a Knight and Charger into the castle, under the very natural disguise of a wain of hay. Marmion, the hero of the latter romance, is exactly what William of Deloraine would have been, had he been able to read and write. The Poem was manufactured for Messrs. CONSTABLE, MURRAY, and MILLER, worshipful booksellers, in consideration of the receipt of a sum [5] of money, and truly, considering the inspiration, it is a very creditable production. If Mr. SCOTT will write for hire, let him do his best for his paymasters, but not disgrace his genius, which is undoubtedly great, by a repetition of Black letter Ballad imitations.   zurück

    [6] * "Good night to Marmion" – the pathetic and also prophetic exclamation of HENRY BLOUNT, Esquire, on the death of honest Marmion.   zurück

    [7] * As the Odyssey is so closely connected with the story of the Iliad, they may almost be classed as one grand historical poem. In alluding to MILTON, and TASSO, we consider the "Paradise lost," and "Gierusalemme Liberata" as their standard efforts, since neither the "Jerusalem conquered" of the Italian, nor the "Paradise regained" of the English Bard, obtained a proportionate celebrity to their former poems. Query: Which of Mr. SOUTHEY'S will survive?   zurück

    [8] * Thalaba, Mr. SOUTHEY'S second poem, is written in open [9] defiance of precedent and poetry. Mr. S. wished to produce something novel, and succeeded to a miracle. Joan of Arc was marvellous enough, but Thalaba was one of those poems "which, in the words of PORSON, will be read when Homer and Virgil are forgotten, but – not till then."   zurück

    [9] * We beg Mr. SOUTHEY'S pardon: "Madoc disdains the [10] degraded title of Epic." See his preface. Why is Epic degraded? and by whom? Certainly the late Romaunts of Masters COTTLE, Laureat PYE, OGYLVY, HOLE, and gentle Mistress COWLEY have not exalted the Epic Muse, but as Mr. SOUTHEY'S poem "disdains the appellation," allow us to ask – has he substituted any thing better in its stead? or must he be content to rival Sir RICHARD BLACKMORE, in the quantity as well as quality of his verse?   zurück

    [10] * See, The Old Woman of Berkley, a Ballad by Mr. SOUTHEY, wherein an aged gentlewoman is carried away by Beelzebub, on "a high trotting horse."   zurück

    [11] * The last line, "God help thee," is an evident plagiarism from the Anti-jacobin to Mr. SOUTHEY, on his Dactylics:
    "God help thee silly one." – Poetry of the Anti-jacobin, page 23.   zurück

    [11] † Lyrical Ballads, page 4. – "The tables turned." Stanza 1.
            "Up, up my friend, and clear your looks,
                  Why all this toil and trouble?
             Up, up my friend, and quit your books,
                  Or surely you'll grow double."
    [12] Mr. W. in his preface labours hard to prove that prose and verse are much the same, and certainly his precepts and practice are strictly conformable.   zurück

    [12] * "And thus to Betty's question he
               Made answer, like a traveller bold,
               The cock did crow to-whoo, to-whoo,
               And the sun did shine so cold, &c. &c."
                                          Lyrical Ballads, page 129.   zurück

    [13] * COLERIDGE'S Poems, page 11. Songs of the Pixies, i.e. Devonshire Faries, page 42, we have "Lines to a Young Lady," and page 52, "Lines to a Young Ass."   zurück

 

 

 

 

Druckvorlage

English Bards and Scotch Reviewers. A Satire. London: James Cawthorn.

Unser Auszug: S. 1-13.

URL: https://archive.org/details/englishbardsscot01byro
URL: http://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/001023319

1st edn., second issue: published Mar.-Apr. 1809.
Vgl. zur Druckgeschichte: Lord Byron: The Complete Poetical Works. Hrsg. von Jerome J. McGann. Bd. 1. Oxford 1980, S. 397-398.

 

 

Kommentierte und kritische Ausgaben

 

 

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Edition
Lyriktheorie » R. Brandmeyer