« السابقةمتابعة »
The earliest pieces in these “Juvenile and Minor Poems" were written before the writer had left school. Between the date of these and of the latest, there is an interval of six and forty years: as much difference, therefore, may be perceived in them as in the different stages of life from boyhood to old age.
Some of the earliest appeared in a little volume, published at Bath in the autumn of 1794, with this title: "Poems, containing the Retrospect, &c., by Robert Lovell and Robert Southey, 1795;" and with this motto:
"Minuentur atræ Carmine curæ." - HORACE.
At the end of that volume; “ Joan of Arc” was announced as to be published by subscription.
Others were published at Bristol, 1797, in a single volume, with this motto from Akenside:
“Goddess of the lyre!
With thee comes
A second volume followed at Bristol in 1799, after the second edition of “ Joan of Arc," and commencing with the “ Vision of the Maid of Orleans." The motto to this was from the Epilogue to Spenser's “Shepherds’ Calendar:".
" The better please; the worse displease : I ask no more."
In the third edition of “ Joan of Arc," the “ Vision” printed, separately, at the end; and its place was supplied, in the second edition of the “Poems,” by miscellaneous pieces.
A separate volume, entitled “Metrical Tales and other Poems," was published, in 1805, with this advertisement: “These poems were published some years ago in the · Annual Anthology.' (Bristol, 1799, 1800.) They have now been revised and printed in this collected form, because they have pleased those readers whom the author was most desirous of pleasing. Let them be considered as the desultory productions of a man sedulously employed upon better things."
These various pieces were re-arranged in three volumes, under the title of “Minor Poems,” in 1815, with this motto:
" Nos hæc novimus esse nihil; ”
and they were published a second time in the same form, 1823.
The Ballads and Metrical Tales” contained in those volumes belong to a different part of this collection : their other contents are comprised here; and the present volume consists, with very few exceptions, of pieces written in youth or early manhood. One of these, written in my twentieth year, not having been published at the time, would never have been made public by my own act and deed ; but, as “ Wat Tyler” obtained considerable notoriety upon its surreptitious publication, it seemed proper that a production, which will be specially noticed whenever the author shall be delivered over to the biographers, should be included here. They who may desire to know more than is stated in the advertisement now prefixed to it, are referred to a letter addressed to William Smith, Esq., M.P., 1817, reprinted in the second volume of my“ Essays Moral and Political,” 1832.
The second volume of this part of the collection contains one juvenile piece, and many which were written in early manhood. The remainder were composed in middle or later life, and comprise (with one exception, that will more conveniently be arranged elsewhere) all the odes, which, as poetlaureate, I have written upon national occasions. Of these, the “ Carmen Triumphale” and the “ Carmina Aulica" separately published in quarto in 1814, and reprinted together in a little volume in 1821.
The “ Juvenile and Minor Poems" in this collection bear an inconsiderable proportion to those of substantive length; for a small part only of my youthful effusions were spared from those autos-da-fé in which, from time to time, piles upon piles have been consumed. In middle life, works of greater extent, or of a different kind, left me little leisure for occasional poetry: the impulse ceased; and, latterly, the inclination was so seldom felt, that it required an effort to call it forth.
Sir William Davenant, in the Preface to“ Gondibert,” “ took occasion to accuse and condemn all those hasty digestions of thought which were published in his youth; a sentence, said he, not pronounced out of melancholy rigor, but from a cheerful obedience to the just authority of experience. For that grave mistress of the world, Experience (in whose profitable school those before the flood stayed long, but we, like wanton children, come thither late, yet too soon are called out of it and fetched home by death), hath taught me that the engenderings of unripe age become abortive and deformed; and that 'tis a high presumption to entertain a nation (who are a poet's standing guest, and require monarchical respect) with hasty provisions; as if a poet might imitate the familiar despatch of faulconers, mount his Pegasus, unhood his Muse, and, with a few flights, boast he hath provided a feast for a prince. Such posting upon Pegasus I have long since foreborne.” Yet this eminently thoughtful poet was so far from seeking to suppress the crude compositions which he thus condemned, that he often expressed a great desire to see all his pieces collected in one volume; and, conformably to his wish, they were so collected, after his decease, by his widow, and his friend Herringman the bookseller.