The Castle Of Indolence "Poured Forth His Unpremeditated Strain"

James Thomson

"Poured Forth His Unpremeditated Strain"

Context: A poem originally intended to be a few stanzas ridiculing the lack of energy of the author and some of his friends, occupied Thomson for fifteen years before finally appearing in two cantos and 156 stanzas. It was the last product of his pen that he lived to print. The poem contains more poetic invention than any of his other works. To suit contemporary taste, it included allegory, now scorned. However, that device, like obsolete words of the poem, appears because the poet was imitating Edmund Spenser (1528?–1599). To a castle belonging to the wizard Indolence come pilgrims seeking an easy life. Here they can woo the Muse, while watching the world in a magic crystal globe. In Canto II, the Knight of Art and Industry arrives to show them the evils of this sort of life. Many of the poetic portraits of the guests have never been identified. The stanza containing the lines quoted describes Thomson himself as a writer of simple and unstudied verse. A footnote declares that all except the first line of the stanza was written by Thomson's friend, the celebrated George, Lord Lyttelton (1709–1773). The quoted line may have been suggested by the "unpremeditated verse" of Milton's Paradise Lost (IX, 24).

A bard here dwelt, more fat than bard beseems;
Who, void of envy, guile, and lust of gain,
On virtue still, and nature's pleasing themes,
Pour'd forth his unpremeditated strain;
The world forsaking with a calm disdain,
Here laugh'd he careless in his easy seat;
Here quaff'd, encircled with the joyous train,
Oft moralizing age; his ditty sweet
He loathèd much to write, ne carèd to repeat.