James and Mary Ford, eds. Every Day in the Year. 1902.

August 12

Robert Southey

By Lord Byron (1788–1824)

(Born August 12, 1774)

From “English Bards and Scotch Reviewers”

FIRST in the ranks see Joan of Arc advance,

The scourge of England, and the boast of France!

Though burnt by wicked Bedford for a witch,

Behold her statue placed in glory’s niche;

Her fetters burst, and just released from prison,

A virgin phœnix from her ashes risen.

Next see tremendous Thalaba come on,

Arabia’s monstrous, wild, and wondrous son;

Domdaniel’s dread destroyer, who o’erthrew

More mad magicians than the world ere knew.

Immortal hero! all thy foes o’ercome,

Forever reign—the rival of Tom Thumb!

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.

O Southey, Southey, cease thy varied song!

A bard may chant too often and too long;

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 Berkley ballads most uncivil,

Thou wilt devote old women to the devil,

The babe unborn thy dread intent may rue:

“God help thee,” Southey, and thy readers too.