Tag Archives: sonnet

Thomas Woolston, “Sonnet to the Memory of Falconer, Author of the Shipwreck”

THOMAS WOOLSTON

“Sonnet to the Memory of Falconer, Author of the Shipwreck”

 

Ill-fated Bard marine, who strung the lyre,
A chilling tale of sorrow to rehearse,
In all the mournful melody of verse,
Warm’d by a beam of true Maeonian fire;
Well might the theme the tuneful breast inspire,                                  5
Who felt the rage of Fate’s most adverse storm,
And saw grim Death’s most drear terrific form,
Whilst struggling round thy gallant mates expire.
Thy strains to distant times their names shall give,
Snatch’d from oblivion’s ever-dreaded gloom,                                        10
Oh that my Muse could bid thy mem’ry live,
And paint in verse like thine thy mournful doom,
The plaintive strains with energy should flow,
And sympathy unborn should melt at Falconer’s woe.

NOTES:

 Title Falconer, the Author of the Shipwreck William Falconer (1732-1769), published a wildly popular epic poem titled The Shipwreck in 1762.

1 lyre “A stringed instrument of the harp kind, used by the Greeks for accompanying song and recitation” (OED).

4 Maeonian “A native inhabitant of Maeonia; a Lydian. Frequently in reference to Homer, who, according to some accounts, was born at Smyrna in Maeonia” or modern day Turkey (OED).

10 oblivion “The state or condition of having been forgotten” (OED).

11 Muse The source of poetic inspiration.

12 doom “It is said he was lost in the Aurora frigate going to the East Indies.—We should be glad to see some authentic memoirs of him” [Editor’s Note].

13 plaintive “Having the character of a lament; expressive of sorrow; mournful, sad” (OED).

Source: The Gentleman’s Magazine (July 1789), p. 650.

Edited by Randall Pedersen

Anonymous, “Sonnet, on the Inhabitants of London”

ANONYMOUS

“Sonnet, on the Inhabitants of LONDON

In London scarce a bird but may be found:
The sun-ey’d eagle borne on lofty wing,
Linnets that adulate the smile of Spring,
And ravens croaking with portentous sound:

Owls wrapt in dulness, crows tow’rd carrion bound,                            5
Parrots whose squalling notes incessant ring,
Swallows that dare to chatter near a King,
And gabbling geese nice students wish were drown’d:

Mud-haunting ducks that dabble in the street,
Fine birds of paradise with little feet,                                                       10
Peacocks that spread a gaudy-painted fan;
Grain-raking poultry, enemies to flow’rs,
The stork imperious that all things devours,
A phoenix there would be an honest man.

NOTES:

 3 Linnets A type of finch known for its pleasant song with quick trills and tweets; adulate To flatter in an obsequious or sycophantic manner, to fawn on” (OED).

 4 portentous “Ominous, threatening” (OED).

 10 birds of paradise A family of birds found throughout the islands of New Guinea which are recognizable by the males’ highly elaborate plumage.

 13 imperious “Exercising a commanding influence; ruling, sovereign, dominant” (OED).

 14 Phoenix A bird in Greek mythology that was characteristically long lived and went through cycles of death and rebirth from its ashes. Also an early symbol of Christianity.

Source: The Gentleman’s Magazine (July, 1777), p. 345.

 Edited by Tyler Greer

Anonymous, “Sonnet to Mr. Herschel, on his many Astronomical Discoveries”

ANONYMOUS

 “SONNET to Mr. Herschel, on his many Astronomical Discoveries”

 Herschel, all hail! For thee the tuneful Nine
Joyous to add to thy increasing fame
(As thou to Newton’s and to George’s name)
Of choicest flowers a chaplet shall entwine.
Haste then, and fly to Windsor’s air benign                              5
Fair Avon bartering for silver Thame:
Long teach, if length there be to human frame,
New stars to glitter, and new suns to shine.
And when the day shall come, as come it must,
Which by degrees shall dim thy piercing eye,                   10
Bid Vision, Science, Reason, Herschel, die,
And consecrate his mortal part to dust;
Then may thy spirit, with new glory crown’d,
Inherit all the worlds which thou hast found.

NOTES:

Title Mr. Herschel Sir William Herschel was a German-born, British astronomer (1738-1822). He discovered the planet Uranus in 1781 (Encyclopaedia Britannica online). The Gentleman’s Magazine’s editors provide the source for this poem: “From Maty’s Review,” which was also titled A New Review with Literary Curiosities and Literary Intelligence. This periodical was published from 1782-1786 by Henry Maty, the under librarian at the British Museum (Google Books).

1 the tuneful nine The nine muses of arts and sciences in Greek mythology.

3 Newton’s Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1726/7), the famous British physicist and mathematician; George’s George III of the United Kingdom of Great Britain (1738-1820), who reigned as king from 1760 until his death. In 1782 George III appointed Herschel the King’s Astronomer (Encyclopaedia Britannica online).

 4 chaplet “A wreath for the head, usually a garland of flowers or leaves, also of gold, precious stones, etc.; a circlet, coronal” (OED).

5 Windsor “The Round Tower at Windsor is said to be intended for Mr. Herschel’s observatory, whose studies hitherto have been prosecuted at Bath” [Author’s Note]. Windsor Castle, a royal residence, was renovated by George III.

6 Avon Herschel lived in Bath, on the Avon River; Thame Windsor Castle is located on the Thames River.

 Source: The Gentleman’s Magazine (February, 1783), p. 161.

Edited by Miriam deQuadros White

“Tom Telltroth,” “On the Hon. Master—-who bled to Death, after a cross Incision on the Jugular, by a French Empiric”

“TOM TELLTROTH”

“On The Hon. Master—-who bled to Death, after a cross Incision on the Jugular, by a French Empiric”

All Sciences a fawning Monsieur knows. London a Poem.

When thousands fall in spite of skill
What wonder Ignorance should kill?
Such, noble youth, was thy hard fate,
Thy life cut short before its date!
Whose ancestors Britannias boast,                                 5
In thee a rising hero’s lost!
Resolv’d, the slaught’rer o’er thee stood,
To have at all events thy blood,
Thro’ thy arterial channels broke,
And butcher’d with repeated stroke.                               10
But let this tale be never heard;
Still be the foreign tribe prefer’d,
Trust them, ye great, their pockets fill,
They only rob, betray and kill.

NOTES:

Title Empyric Archaic spelling of empiric. A practitioner of medicine who lacks academic training and qualifications; a practitioner of traditional or folk medicine (OED).

Epigraph All Sciences a Fawning Monsieur knows Samuel Johnson, “London,” line 115:  “All Sciences a fasting Monsieur knows.” For Johnson’s fasting (Catholic, religious observation of abstinence of food) Telltroth substitutes fawning (cringing, servile flattery or homage) (OED).

5 Britannia Britain personified as a woman; the figure representing this, depicted wearing a helmet, holding a shield and trident, and usually seated, emblematic of Britain (or England) esp. as an imperial or sea power, or as a symbol of nationalism (OED).

7-10  Resolv’d…stroke  These lines describe the process of extracting blood (from a person, animal, vein, or part of the body) for (supposed) therapeutic practices (OED).

11 this tale  “His Death is said to be from a Fever” (Author’s Note).

Source: The Gentleman’s Magazine, vol. 13 (April 1743), pp. 212-13.

Edited by Keith Roche        

Mary Masters, “On seeing a Lady…”

 

MARY MASTERS

“On seeing a Lady with a new fashion’d Riding-Dress, and a Hat cock’d up”

The Round-ear’d Cap (once worn with decent Pride)
And Velvet Bonnet both are thrown aside;
The Beaver, now, cock’d up with bolder Air,
And manly Habit, please the fickle Fair.
Yet, for Excuse, it justly may be said,                              5
A Scheme with deepest Policy is laid:
Since, among Men, there is a stupid Race,
Who slight the Graces of the Female Face:
Since Fops so long have self-enamour’d been,
And view the Mirror with a raptur’d Mien;                    10
They hope in this Disguise each Beau to charm,
And win th’ Apostates with a mimick Form.
With happy Art so justly they improve,
Sure all must now the Manlike Beauties love.


NOTES:

Title Riding-Dress, and a Hat cock’d up The female riding habit dates from the 1660s, and was usually comprised of a jacket and waistcoat in imitation of men’s fashion at the time, with a similar cravat worn at the neck, a periwig and cocked hat on the head, and full skirts and petticoats. Criticism of this androgynous female fashion came from influential literary men like Joseph Addison, Richard Steele, John Gay, Samuel Richardson, and Horace Walpole through the first half of the century, and popular periodicals like the London Journal and the Gentleman’s Magazine inveighed against the practice in the 1730s.

1 Round-ear’d cap Headwear for women, made of linen or cotton, that curved around the head to cover the ears and edged with lace or ruffles; fashionable in the early decades of the eighteenth century.

3 Beaver…cock’d up A hat made of felted beaver fur, with the brim folded up; probably a reference to the popular tri-corner style hat.

9 Fops A derogatory term for a vain, dandyish man.

11 Beau A handsome, fashionable young man; here a synonym for “fop.”

12 Apostates Those who have abandoned their religious faith, political allegiances, or principles in general.

SOURCE: Poems on Several Occasions (London, 1733), pp. 157-8.

Edited by Bill Christmas