Windsor Forest (4th edition)/To Mr. Pope on his Windsor-Forest

Windsor-Forest by Alexander Pope
To Mr. Pope on his Windsor-Forest by Francis Knapp

Killala in the County of Mayo
in Ireland, June 7. 1715.

To Mr. POPE on his Windsor-Forest.

HAIL, sacred Bard! a Muse unknown before
Salutes thee from the bleak Atlantic shore.
To our dark world thy shining page is shown,
And Windsor's gay retreat becomes our own.
The Eastern pomp had just bespoke our care,
And India pour'd her gawdy treasures here:
A various spoil adorn'd our naked land,
The Pride of Persia glitter'd on our strand,
And China's Earth was cast on common sand:
Toss'd up and down the glossy fragments lay,
And dress'd the rocky shelves, and pav'd the painted bay.
Thy treasures next arriv'd: And now we boast
A nobler Cargo on our barren coast.
From thy luxuriant Forest we receive
More lasting glories than the East can give.
Where-e'er we dip in thy delightful page,
What pompous scenes our busy thoughts engage!
The pompous scenes in all their pride appear,
Fresh in the page, as in the grove they were.
Nor half so true the fair Lodona shows
The sylvan state that on her border grows,
While she the wondring shepherd entertains
With a new Windsor in her watry plains:
Thy juster lays the lucid wave surpass;
The living scene is in the Muse's glass,
Nor sweeter notes the echoing Forests chear,
When Philomela sits and warbles there,
Than when you sing the greens, and opening glades
And give us Harmony as well as Shades.
A Titian's hand might draw the grove, but you
Can paint the grove, and add the Music too.
With vast variety thy pages shine;
A new creation starts in ev'ry line.
How sudden trees rise to the reader's sight,
And make a doubtful scene of shade and light,
And give at once the day, at once the night!
And here again what sweet confusion reigns,
In dreary deserts mix'd with painted plains!
And see! the desarts cast a pleasing gloom;
And shrubby heaths rejoice in purple bloom:
Whilst fruitful crops rise by their barren side,
And bearded groves display their annual pride.
Happy the man, who strings his tuneful lyre,
Where woods and brooks, and breathing fields inspire!
Thrice happy you! and worthy best to dwell
Amidst the rural joys you sing so well.
I in a cold, and in a barren clime,
Cold as my thought, and barren as my rhime,
Here on the Western beach attempt to chime!
O joyless flood! O rough tempestuous main!
Border'd with weeds, and solitudes obscene!
Let me ne'er flow like thee! nor make thy stream
My sad example, or my wretched theme.
Like bombast now thy raging billows roar,
And vainly dash themselves against the shore:
About like quibbles now thy froth is thrown,
And all extreams are in a moment shown.
Snatch me, ye Gods! from these Atlantic shores,
And shelter me in Windsor's fragrant Bow'rs;
Or to my much-lov'd Isis walks convey,
And on her flow'ry banks for ever lay:
Thence let me view the venerable scene,
The awful dome, the groves eternal green;
There sacred Hough long found his fam'd retreat,
And brought the Muses to the sylvan seat,
Reform'd the wits, unlock'd the Classic store,
And made that music which was noise before,
There with illustrious Bards I spent my days,
Nor free from censure, nor unknown to praise;
Enjoy'd the blessings that his reign bestow'd,
Nor envy'd Windsor in the soft abode.
The golden minutes smoothly danc'd away,
And tuneful Bards beguil'd the tedious day.
They sung, nor sung in vain, with numbers fir'd
That Maro taught, or Addison inspir'd.
Ev'n I essay'd to touch the trembling string:
Who cou'd hear them, and not attempt to sing?
Rouz'd from these dreams by thy commanding strain,
I rise, and wander thro' the field or plain;
Led by thy Muse from sport to sport I run,
Mark the stretch'd line, or hear the thund'ring gun.
Ah! how I melt with pity, when I spy
On the cold earth the flutt'ring Pheasant lie;
His gawdy robes in dazling lines appear,
And ev'ry feather shines and varies there.
Nor can I pass the gen'rous courser by,
But while the prancing steed allures my eye,
He starts, he's gone! and now I see him fly
O'er hills and dales; and now I lose the course,
Nor can the rapid sight pursue the flying horse.
Oh cou'd thy Virgil from his orb look down,
He'd view a courser that might match his own!
Fir'd with the sport, and eager for the chace,
Lodona's murmurs stop me in the race.
Who can refuse Lodona's melting tale?
The soft complaint shall over time prevail;
The tale be told, when shades forsake her shore,
The nymph be sung, when she can flow no more.
Nor shall thy song, old Thames! forbear to shine,
At once the subject and the song divine.
Peace, sung by thee, shall please ev'n Britains more
Than all their shouts for Victory before.
Oh! cou'd Britannia imitate thy stream,
The world should tremble at her awful name.
From various springs divided waters glide,
In diff'rent colours roll a diff'rent tyde,
Murmur along their crooked banks a while,
At once they murmur and enrich the Isle;
A while distinct thro' many chanels run,
But meet at last, and sweetly flow in one;
There joy to lose their long-distinguish'd names,
And make one glorious, and immortal Thames.

Fr. Knapp.