A Celebration of Women Writers


Poems by Anna Lætitia Aikin [Anna Lætitia Barbauld] (1743 - 1825). London: Printed for Joseph Johnson, in St. Paul's Church-Yard, 1773. (Third edition, corrected.)

[Title Page]

POEMS.

HÆC SAT ERIT, DIVÆ, VESTRUM CECINISSE POETAM,

DUM SEDET, ET GRACILI FISCELLAM TEXIT HIBISCO.

VIRGIL.

THE THIRD EDITION, CORRECTED.

LONDON:

PRINTED FOR JOSEPH JOHNSON, IN ST. PAUL'S

CHURCH-YARD.

MDCCLXXIII.


[Page]

TO

THE RIGHT HONOURABLE

LADY MARY WEST,

THESE POEMS

ARE RESPECTFULLY INSCRIBED

BY HER LADYSHIP'S OBLIGED
AND MOST OBEDIENT SERVANT,

ANNA LÆTITIA AIKIN.

WARRINGTON,
DEC. 1ST. 1772.

[Page]

CONTENTS.

CORSICA 1
The Invitation, to Miss B----. 13
The Groans of the Tankard. 25
On the Backwardness of the Spring 1771. 31
Verses written in an Alcove. 33
The Mouse's Petition. 37
To Mrs. P--------, with Drawings of Birds and Insects. 41
Characters. 49
On a Lady's Writing. 52
Hymn to Content. 53
To Wisdom. 57
The Origin of Song-Writing. 59

[Page vi]

Songs. 66
Delia, an Elegy. 82
Ovid to his Wife. 88
To a Lady, with painted Flowers. 95
Ode to Spring. 97
Verses on Mrs. Rowe. 101
To Miss R----, on her Attendance upon her Mother at Buxton. 104
On the Death of Mrs. Jennings. 107
Hymns. 110
An Address to the Deity. 125
A Summer Evening's Meditation. 131


[Page 1]

CORSICA. *

------------------- A manly race
Of unsubmitting spirit, wise and brave;
Who still thro' bleeding ages struggled hard
To hold a generous undiminish'd state;
Too much in vain!

THOMSON. {1}

HAIL generous CORSICA! unconquer'd isle! {2}
The fort of freedom; that amidst the waves
Stands like a rock of adamant, and dares
The wildest fury of the beating storm.

*Written in the year 1769.

[Page 2]

  And are there yet, in this late sickly age
(Unkindly to the tow'ring growths of virtue)
Such bold exalted spirits? Men whose deeds,
To the bright annals of old GREECE oppos'd,
Would throw in shades her yet unrival'd name,
And dim the lustre of her fairest page!
And glows the flame of LIBERTY so strong
In this lone speck of earth! this spot obscure,
Shaggy with woods, and crusted o'er with rock,
By slaves surrounded and by slaves oppress'd!
What then should BRITONS feel? should they not catch
The warm contagion of heroic ardour,
And kindle at a fire so like their own?

  Such were the working thoughts which swell'd the breast
Of generous BOSWEL; when with nobler aim {3}
And views beyond the narrow beaten track
By trivial fancy trod, he turn'd his course

[Page 3]

From polish'd Gallia's soft delicious vales,
From the grey reliques of imperial Rome,
From her long galleries of laurel'd stone,
Her chisel'd heroes, and her marble gods,
(Whose dumb majestic pomp yet awes the world,)
To animated forms of patriot zeal;
Warm in the living majesty of virtue;
Elate with fearless spirit; firm; resolv'd;
By fortune unsubdu'd; unaw'd by power.

  How raptur'd fancy burns, while warm in thought
I trace the pictur'd landscape; while I kiss
With pilgram lips devout, the sacred soil
Stain'd with the blood of heroes. CYRNUS, hail! {4}
Hail to thy rocky, deep indented shores,
And pointed cliffs, which hear the chafing deep
Incessant foaming round their shaggy sides.
Hail to thy winding bays, thy shelt'ring ports

[Page 4]

And ample harbours, which inviting stretch
Their hospitable arms to every sail:
Thy numerous streams, that bursting from the cliffs
Down the steep channel'd rock impetuous pour
With grateful murmur: on the fearful edge
Of the rude precipice, thy hamlets brown
And straw-roof'd cots, which from the level vale
Scarce seen, amongst the craggy hanging cliffs
Seem like an eagle's nest aerial built.
Thy swelling mountains, brown with solemn shade
Of various trees, that wave their giant arms
O'er the rough sons of freedom; lofty pines,
And hardy fir, and ilex ever green,
And spreading chesnut, with each humbler plant,
And shrub of fragrant leaf, that clothes their sides
With living verdure; whence the clust'ring bee
Extracts her golden dews: the shining box,
And sweet-leav'd myrtle, aromatic thyme,

[Page 5]

The prickly juniper, and the green leaf
Which feeds the spinning worm; while glowing bright
Beneath the various foliage, wildly spreads
The arbutus, and rears his scarlet fruit
Luxuriant, mantling o'er the craggy steeps;
And thy own native laurel crowns the scene.
Hail to thy savage forests, awful, deep:
Thy tangled thickets, and thy crowded woods,
The haunt of herds untam'd; which sullen bound
From rock to rock with fierce unsocial air,
And wilder gaze, as conscious of the power
That loves to reign amid the lonely scenes
Of unbroke nature: precipices huge,
And tumbling torrents; trackless desarts, plains
Fenc'd in with guardian rocks, whose quarries teem
With shining steel, that to the cultur'd fields
And sunny hills which wave with bearded grain
Defends their homely produce. LIBERTY,

[Page 6]

The mountain Goddess, loves to range at large
Amid such scenes, and on the iron soil
Prints her majestic step. For these she scorns
The green enamel'd vales, the velvet lap
Of smooth savannahs, where the pillow'd head
Of luxury reposes; balmy gales,
And bowers that breath of bliss. For these, when first
This isle emerging like a beauteous gem
From the dark bosom of the Tyrrhene main
Rear'd its fair front, she mark'd it for her own,
And with her spirit warm'd. Her genuine sons,
A broken remnant, from the generous stock
Of ancient Greece, from Sparta's sad remains,
True to their high descent, preserv'd unquench'd
The sacred fire thro' many a barbarous age:
Whom, nor the iron rod of cruel Carthage,
Nor the dread sceptre of imperial Rome,
Nor bloody Goth, nor grisly Saracen,

[Page 7]

Nor the long galling yoke of proud Liguria,
Could crush into subjection. Still unquell'd
They rose superior, bursting from their chains,
And claim'd man's dearest birthright, LIBERTY.
And long, thro' many a hard unequal strife
Maintain'd the glorious conflict; long withstood
With single arm, the whole collected force
Of haughty Genoa, and ambitious Gaul.
And shall withstand it, trust the faithful Muse!
It is not in the force of mortal arm,
Scarcely in fate, to bind the struggling soul
That gall'd by wanton power, indignant swells
Against oppression; breathing great revenge,
Careless of life, determin'd to be free.
And fav'ring heaven approves: for see the Man,
Borne to exalt his own, and give mankind
A glimpse of higher natures: just, as great;
The soul of council, and the nerve of war;

[Page 8]

Of high unshaken spirit, temper'd sweet
With soft urbanity, and polish'd grace,
And attic wit, and gay unstudied smiles:
Whom heaven in some propitious hour endow'd
With every purer virtue: gave him all
That lifts the hero, or adorns the man.
Gave him the eye sublime; the searching glance
Keen, scanning deep, that smites the guilty soul
As with a beam from heaven; on his brow
Serene, and spacious front, set the broad seal
Of dignity and rule; then smil'd benign
On this fair pattern of a God below,
High wrought, and breath'd into his swelling breast
The large ambitious wish to save his country.
Oh beauteous title to immortal fame!
The man devoted to the public, stands
In the bright records of superior worth
A step below the skies: if he succeed,

[Page 9]

The first fair lot which earth affords, is his;
And if he falls, he falls above a throne.
When such their leader, can the brave despair?
Freedom the cause, and PAOLI the chief! {5}
Success to your fair hopes! a British Muse,
Tho' weak and powerless, lifts her fervent voice,
And breathes a prayer for your success. Oh could
She scatter blessings as the morn sheds dews,
To drop upon your heads! but patient hope
Must wait th' appointed hour; secure of this,
That never with the indolent and weak
Will freedom deign to dwell; she must be seiz'd
By that bold arm that wrestles for the blessing:
'Tis heaven's best prize, and must be bought with blood.
When the storm thickens, when the combat burns,
And pain and death in every horrid shape
That can appall the feeble, prowl around,
Then virtue triumphs; then her tow'ring form

[Page 10]

Dilates with kindling majesty; her mien
Breathes a diviner spirit, and enlarg'd
Each spreading feature, with an ampler port
And bolder tone, exulting, rides the storm,
And joys amidst the tempest. Then she reaps
Her golden harvest; fruits of nobler growth
And higher relish than meridian suns
Can ever ripen; fair, heroic deeds,
And godlike action. 'Tis not meats, and drinks,
And balmy airs, and vernal suns, and showers
That feed and ripen minds; 'tis toil and danger;
And wrestling with the stubborn gripe of fate;
And war, and sharp distress, and paths obscure
And dubious. The bold swimmer joys not so
To feel the proud waves under him, and beat
With strong repelling arm the billowy surge;
The generous courser does not so exult
To toss his floating mane against the wind,

[Page 11]

And neigh amidst the thunder of the war,
As virtue to oppose her swelling breast
Like a firm shield against the darts of fate.
And when her sons in that rough school have learn'd
To smile at danger, then the hand that rais'd
Shall hush the storm, and lead the shining train
Of peaceful years in bright procession on.
Then shall the shepherd's pipe, the muse's lyre,
On CYRNUS' shores be heard: her grateful sons
With loud acclaim and hymns of cordial praise
Shall hail their high deliverers; every name
To virtue dear be from oblivion snatch'd,
And plac'd among the stars: but chiefly thine,
Thine, PAOLI, with sweetest sound shall dwell
On their applauding lips; thy sacred name,
Endear'd to long posterity, some Muse,
More worthy of the theme, shall consecrate
To after-ages, and applauding worlds
Shall bless the godlike man who sav'd his country.

[Page 12]

         * * * * * * * * * * *

  So vainly wish'd, so fondly hop'd the Muse:
Too fondly hop'd. The iron fates prevail,
And CYRNUS is no more. Her generous sons,
Less vanquish'd than o'erwhelm'd, by numbers crush'd,
Admir'd, unaided fell. So strives the moon
In dubious battle with the gathering clouds,
And strikes a splendour thro' them; till at length
Storms roll'd on storms involve the face of heaven
And quench her struggling fires. Forgive the zeal
That, too presumptuous, whisper'd better things
And read the book of destiny amiss.
Not with the purple colouring of success
Is virtue best adorn'd: th' attempt is praise.
There yet remains a freedom, nobler far
Than kings or senates can destroy or give;
Beyond the proud oppressor's cruel grasp
Seated secure; uninjur'd; undestroy'd;
Worthy of Gods: The freedom of the mind.


Celebration Notes:

  1. The quote is taken from The Seasons "Autumn", by James Thomson.
  2. Corsica was attempting to win independence from the Italian state of Genoa. In 1768, Genoa ceded the Corsica to France. France prepared to invade and conquer it. Many British liberals lobbied for Britain to aid Corsica, on the grounds that by doing so Britain would be upholding important British historical and philosophical principles of liberty. On 8 May, 1769, several months after this poem was written, the Corsicans were defeated by the French at the Battle of Pontenuovo.
  3. James Boswell was attempting to publicize the situation in Corsica and to raise money through private subscription for the Corsicans through publication of An Account of Corsica, the Journal of a Tour to that Island, and Memoirs of Pascal Paoli (1768) and British Essays in Favour of the Brave Corsicans (1768).
  4. Cyrnus was another name for Corsica.
  5. General Pasquale Paoli (1725-1807) was the leader of the Corsican forces.

[Page 13]

The INVITATION:

TO MISS B*****.

Hic gelidi fontes, hic mollia prata, Lycori,
Hic nemus: hic ipso tecum consumerer ævo.
VIRGIL.

HEALTH to my friend, and long unbroken years, {1}
By storms unruffled and unstain'd by tears:
Wing'd by new joys may each white minute fly;
Spring on her cheek, and sunshine in her eye:
O'er that dear breast, where love and pity springs,
May peace eternal spread her downy wings:

[Page 14]

Sweet beaming hope her path illumine still,
And fair ideas all her fancy fill.
From glittering scenes which strike the dazzled sight
With mimic grandeur and illusive light,
From idle hurry, and tumultuous noise,
From hollow friendships, and from sickly joys,
Will DELIA, at the muse's call, retire
To the pure pleasures rural scenes inspire?
Will she from crowds and busy cities fly,
Where wreaths of curling smoke involve the sky,
To taste the grateful shade of spreading trees,
And drink the spirit of the mountain breeze?

  When winter's hand the rough'ning year deforms,
And hollow winds foretel approaching storms,
Then Pleasure, like a bird of passage, flies
To brighter climes, and more indulgent skies:
Cities and courts allure her sprightly train,

[Page 15]

From the bleak mountain and the naked plain;
And gold and gems with artificial blaze,
Supply the sickly sun's declining rays.
But soon, returning on the western gale,
She seeks the bosom of the grassy vale:
There, wrapt in careless ease, attunes the lyre
To the wild warblings of the woodland quire:
The daisied turf her humble throne supplies,
And early primroses around her rise.
We'll follow where the smiling goddess leads,
Thro' tangled forests or enamel'd meads;
O'er pathless hills her airy form we'll chase,
In silent glades her fairy footsteps trace:
Small pains there needs her footsteps to pursue,
She cannot fly from friendship, and from you.
Now the glad earth her frozen zone unbinds,
And o'er her bosom breathe the western winds.
Already now the snow-drop dares appear,

[Page 16]

The first pale blossom of th' unripen'd year;
As FLORA'S breath, by some transforming power,
Had chang'd an icicle into a flower:
Its name, and hue, the scentless plant retains,
And winter lingers in its icy veins.
To these succeed the violet's dusky blue,
And each inferior flower of fainter hue;
Till riper months the perfect year disclose,
And FLORA cries exulting, See my Rose!

  The Muse invites, my DELIA haste away,
And let us sweetly waste the careless day.
Here gentle summits lift their airy brow;
Down the green slope here winds the labouring plow;
Here bath'd by frequent show'rs cool vales are seen,
Cloath'd with fresh verdure, and eternal green;
Here smooth canals, across th' extended plain,
Stretch their long arms, to join the distant main:

[Page 17]

The sons of toil with many a weary stroke
Scoop the hard bosom of the solid rock;
Resistless thro' the stiff opposing clay,
With steady patience work their gradual way;
Compel the genius of th' unwilling flood
Thro' the brown horrors of the aged wood;
'Cross the lone waste the silver urn they pour,
And cheer the barren heath or sullen moor.
The traveller with pleasing wonder sees
The white sail gleaming thro' the dusky trees;
And views the alter'd landscape with surprise,
And doubts the magic scenes which round him rise.
Now, like a flock of swans, above his head
Their woven wings the flying vessels spread;
Now meeting streams in artful mazes glide,
While each unmingled pours a separate tide;
Now through the hidden veins of earth they flow,
And visit sulphurous mines and caves below;

[Page 18]

The ductile streams obey the guiding hand,
And social plenty circles round the land.

  But nobler praise awaits our green retreats;
The Muses here have fix'd their sacred seats.
Mark where its simple front yon mansion rears,
The nursery of men for future years!
Here callow chiefs and embryo statesmen lie,
And unfledg'd poets short excursions try:
While Mersey's gentle current, which too long
By fame neglected, and unknown to song,
Between his rushy banks, (no poet's theme)
Had crept inglorious, like a vulgar stream,
Reflects th' ascending seats with conscious pride,
And dares to emulate a classic tide.
Soft music breathes along each op'ning shade,
And sooths the dashing of his rough cascade.
With mystic lines his sands are figur'd o'er,

[Page 19]

And circles trac'd upon the letter'd shore.
Beneath his willows rove th' inquiring youth,
And court the fair majestic form of truth.
Here nature opens all her secret springs,
And heav'n-born science plumes her eagle-wings:
Too long had bigot rage, with malice swell'd,
Crush'd her strong pinions, and her flight witheld;
Too long to check her ardent progress strove:
So writhes the serpent round the bird of Jove;
Hangs on her flight, restrains her tow'ring wing,
Twists its dark folds, and points its venom'd sting.
Yet still (if aught aright the Muse divine)
Her rising pride shall mock the vain design;
On sounding pinions yet aloft shall soar,
And thro' the azure deep untravel'd paths explore.
Where science smiles, the Muses join the train;
And gentlest arts and purest manners reign.
Ye generous youth who love this studious shade,

[Page 20]

How rich a field is to your hopes display'd!
Knowledge to you unlocks the classic page;
And virtue blossoms for a better age.
Oh golden days! oh bright unvalued hours!
What bliss (did ye but know that bliss) were yours?
With richest stores your glowing bosoms fraught,
Perception quick, and luxury of thought;
The high designs that heave the labouring soul,
Panting for fame, impatient of controul;
And fond enthusiastic thought, that feeds
On pictur'd tales of vast heroic deeds;
And quick affections, kindling into flame
At virtue's, or their country's honour'd name;
And spirits light, to every joy in tune;
And friendship, ardent as a summer's noon;
And generous scorn of vice's venal tribe;
And proud disdain of interest's sordid bribe;
And conscious honour's quick instinctive sense;

[Page 21]

And smiles unforc'd; and easy confidence;
And vivid fancy; and clear simple truth;
And all the mental bloom of vernal youth.

  How bright the scene to fancy's eye appears,
Thro' the long perspective of distant years,
When this, this little group their country calls
From academic shades and learned halls,
To fix her laws, her spirit to sustain,
And light up glory thro' her wide domain!
Their various tastes in different arts display'd,
Like temper'd harmony of light and shade,
With friendly union in one mass shall blend,
And this adorn the state, and that defend.
These the sequester'd shade shall cheaply please,
With learned labour, and inglorious ease:
While those, impell'd by some resistless force,
O'er seas and rocks shall urge their vent'rous course;

[Page 22]

Rich fruits matur'd by glowing suns behold,
And China's groves of vegetable gold;
From every land the various harvest spoil,
And bear the tribute to their native soil:
But tell each land (while every toil they share,
Firm to sustain, and resolute to dare,)
MAN is the nobler growth our realms supply,
And SOULS are ripen'd in our northern sky.

  Some pensive creep along the shelly shore;
Unfold the silky texture of a flower;
With sharpen'd eyes inspect an hornet's sting,
And all the wonders of an insect's wing.
Some trace with curious search the hidden cause
Of nature's changes, and her various laws;
Untwist her beauteous web, disrobe her charms,
And hunt her to her elemental forms:
Or prove what hidden powers in herbs are found

[Page 23]

To quench disease and cool the burning wound;
With cordial drops the fainting head sustain,
Call back the flitting soul, and still the throbs of pain.

  The patriot passion this shall strongly feel,
Ardent, and glowing with undaunted zeal;
With lips of fire shall plead his country's cause,
And vindicate the majesty of laws.
This, cloath'd with Britain's thunder, spread alarms
Thro' the wide earth, and shake the pole with arms.
That, to the sounding lyre his deeds rehearse,
Enshrine his name in some immortal verse,
To long posterity his praise consign,
And pay a life of hardships by a line.
While others, consecrate to higher aims,
Whose hallow'd bosoms glow with purer flames,
Love in their heart, persuasion in their tongue,
With words of peace shall charm the list'ning throng,

[Page 24]

Draw the dread veil that wraps th' eternal throne,
And launch our souls into the bright unknown.

  Here cease my song. Such arduous themes require
A master's pencil, and a poet's fire:
Unequal far such bright designs to paint,
Too weak her colours, and her lines too faint,
My drooping Muse folds up her fluttering wing,
And hides her head in the green lap of spring.


Celebration Notes:

  1. Miss B. is identified by McCarthy and Kraft (1994) as Miss Elizabeth Belsham (1743-1819), later Mrs. Kenrick, Anna Barbauld's second cousin and life-long friend.

[Page 25]

The GROANS of the TANKARD.

Dulci digne mero!
HORAT.

OF strange events I sing, and portents dire;
The wond'rous themes a reverent ear require:
Tho' strange the tale, the faithful Muse believe,
And what she says with pious awe receive.

  'Twas at the solemn, silent, noon-tide hour,
When hunger rages with despotic power,
When the lean student quits his Hebrew roots
For the gross nourishment of English fruits,
And throws unfinish'd airy systems by
For solid pudding and substantial pye,

[Page 26]

When hungry poets the glad summons own,
And leave spare fast to dine with Gods alone;
Our sober meal dispatch'd with silent haste,
The decent grace concludes the short repast:
Then, urg'd by thirst, we cast impatient eyes
Where deep, capacious, vast, of ample size,
The TANKARD stood, replenish'd to the brink
With the cold beverage blue-ey'd Naiads drink.
But lo! a sudden prodigy appears,
And our chill'd hearts recoil with startling fears;
Its yawning mouth disclos'd the deep profound,
And in low murmurs breath'd a sullen sound;
Cold drops of dew did on the sides appear;
No finger touch'd it, and no hand was near;
At length th' indignant vase its silence broke,
First heav'd deep hollow groans, and then distinctly spoke.

  "How chang'd the scene! for what unpardon'd crimes
Have I surviv'd to these degenerate times?

[Page 27]

I, who was wont the festal board to grace,
And 'midst the circle lift my honest face,
White o'er with froth, like Etna crown'd with snow,
Which mantled o'er the brown abyss below,
Where Ceres mingled with her golden store
The richer spoils of either India's shore,
The dulcet reed the Western islands boast,
And spicy fruit from Banda's fragrant coast.
At solemn feasts the nectar'd draught I pour'd,
And often journey'd round the ample board:
The portly Alderman, the stately Mayor,
And all the furry tribe my worth declare;
And the keen Sportsman oft, his labours done,
To me retreating with the setting sun,
Deep draughts imbib'd, and conquer'd land and sea,
And overthrew the pride of Franceby me.

  "Let meaner clay contain the limpid wave,
The clay for such an office nature gave;

[Page 28]

Let China's earth, enrich'd with colour'd stains,
Pencil'd with gold, and streak'd with azure veins,
The grateful flavour of the Indian leaf,
Or Mocho's sunburnt berry glad receive;
The nobler metal claims more generous use,
And mine should flow with more exalted juice.
Did I for this my native bed resign,
In the dark bowels of Potosi's mine?
Was I for this with violence torn away,
And drag'd to regions of the upper day?
For this the rage of torturing furnace bore,
From foreign dross to purge the bright'ning ore?
For this have I endur'd the fiery test,
And was I stamp'd for this with Britain's lofty crest?

  "Unblest the day, and luckless was the hour
Which doom'd me to a Presbyterian's power :
Fated to serve the Puritanic race,

[Page 29]

Whose slender meal is shorter than their grace;
Whose moping sons no jovial orgies keep;
Where evening brings no summons but to sleep;
No Carnival is even Christmas here,
And one long Lent involves the meagre year.
Bear me, ye pow'rs! to some more genial scene,
Where on soft cushions lolls the gouty Dean,
Or rosy Prebend, with cherubic face,
With double chin, and paunch of portly grace,
Who lull'd in downy slumbers shall agree
To own no inspiration but from me.
Or to some spacious mansion, Gothic, old,
Where Comus' sprightly train their vigils hold;
There oft exhausted, and replenish'd oft,
Oh! let me still supply th' eternal draught;
Till care within the deep abyss be drown'd,
And thought grows giddy at the vast profound."

[Page 30]

  More had the goblet spoke, but lo! appears
An ancient Sybil furrow'd o'er with years.
Her aspect sour, and stern ungracious look
With sudden damp the conscious vessel struck:
Chill'd at her touch its mouth it slowly clos'd,
And in long silence all its griefs repos'd:
Yet still low murmurs creep along the ground,
And the air vibrates with the silver sound.

[Page 31]

ON THE

Backwardness of the SPRING 1771.

Estatem increpitans seram, zephyrosque morantes.
VIRGIL.

IN vain the sprightly sun renews his course,
Climbs up th' ascending signs and leads the day,
While long embattled clouds repel his force,
And lazy vapours choke the golden ray.

In vain the spring proclaims the new-born year;
No flowers beneath her lingering footsteps spring,
No rosy garland binds her flowing hair,
And in her train no feather'd warblers sing.

Her opening breast is stain'd with frequent showers,
Her streaming tresses bath'd in chilling dews,
And sad before her move the pensive hours,
Whose flagging wings no breathing sweets diffuse.

[Page 32]

Like some lone pilgrim, clad in mournful weed,
Whose wounded bosom drinks her falling tears,
On whose pale cheek relentless sorrows feed,
Whose dreary way no sprightly carol cheers.

Not thus she breath'd on Arno's purple shore,
And called the Tuscan Muses to her bowers;
Not this the robe in Enna's vale she wore,
When Ceres' daughter fill'd her lap with flowers.

Clouds behind clouds in long succession rise,
And heavy snows oppress the springing green;
The dazzling waste fatigues the aching eyes,
And fancy droops beneath th' unvaried scene.

Indulgent nature loose this frozen zone;
Thro' opening skies let genial sun-beams play;
Dissolving snows shall their glad impulse own,
And melt upon the bosom of the May.

[Page 33]

VERSES written in an Alcove.

Jam Cytherea choros ducit Venus imminente Luna.
HORAT.
NOW the moon-beam's trembling lustre
  Silvers o'er the dewy green,
And in soft and shadowy colours
  Sweetly paints the chequer'd scene.

Here between the opening branches
  Streams a flood of soften'd light;
There the thick and twisted foliage
  Spreads the browner gloom of night.

[Page 34]

This is sure the haunt of fairies,
  In yon cool alcove they play;
Care can never cross the threshold,
  Care was only made for day.

Far from hence be noisy clamour,
  Sick disgust and anxious fear;
Pining grief and wasting anguish
  Never keep their vigils here.

Tell no tales of sheeted spectres
  Rising from the quiet tomb;
Fairer forms this cell shall visit,
  Brighter visions gild the gloom.

Choral songs and sprightly voices
  Echo from her cell shall call;
Sweeter, sweeter than the murmur
  Of the distant water-fall.

[Page 35]

Every ruder gust of passion
  Lull'd with music dies away,
Till within the charmed bosom
  None but soft affections play:

Soft, as when the evening breezes
  Gently stir the poplar grove;
Brighter than the smile of summer,
  Sweeter than the breath of love.

Thee, th' inchanted Muse shall follow,
  LISSY! to the rustic cell,
And each careless note repeating
  Tune them to her charming shell.

Not the Muse who wreath'd with laurel
  Solemn stalks with tragic gait,
And in clear and lofty vision
  Sees the future births of fate;

[Page 36]

Not the maid who crown'd with cypress
  Sweeps along in sceptr'd pall,
And in sad and solemn accents
  Mourns the crested hero's fall;

But that other smiling sister,
  With the blue and laughing eye,
Singing, in a lighter measure,
  Strains of woodland harmony:

All unknown to fame and glory,
  Easy, blithe and debonair,
Crown'd with flowers, her careless tresses
  Loosely floating on the air.

Then, when next the star of evening
  Softly sheds the silent dew,
Let me in this rustic temple,
  LISSY! meet the Muse and you.

[Page 37]

The MOUSE'S PETITION, *

Found in the TRAP where he had been confin'd all Night.

Parcere subjectis, & debellare superbos.
VIRGIL.

OH! hear a pensive prisoner's prayer,
For liberty that sighs;
And never let thine heart be shut
Against the wretch's cries.

* To Doctor PRIESTLEY.

The Author is concerned to find, that what was intended as the petition of mercy against justice, has been construed as the plea of humanity against cruelty. She is certain that cruelty could never be apprehended from the Gentleman to whom this is addressed; and the poor animal would have suffered more as the victim of domestic economy, than of philosophical curiosity.

[Page 38]

For here forlorn and sad I sit,
Within the wiry grate;
And tremble at th' approaching morn,
Which brings impending fate.

If e'er thy breast with freedom glow'd,
And spurn'd a tyrant's chain,
Let not thy strong oppressive force
A free-born mouse detain.

Oh! do not stain with guiltless blood
Thy hospitable hearth;
Nor triumph that thy wiles betray'd
A prize so little worth.

The scatter'd gleanings of a feast
My frugal meals supply;
But if thine unrelenting heart
That slender boon deny,

[Page 39]

The cheerful light, the vital air,
Are blessings widely given;
Let nature's commoners enjoy
The common gifts of heaven.

The well-taught philosophic mind
To all compassion gives;
Casts round the world an equal eye,
And feels for all that lives.

If mind, as ancient sages taught,
A never dying flame,
Still shifts through matter's varying forms,
In every form the same,

Beware, lest in the worm you crush
A brother's soul you find;
And tremble lest thy luckless hand
Dislodge a kindred mind.

[Page 40]

Or, if this transient gleam of day
Be all of life we share,
Let pity plead within thy breast
That little all to spare.

So may thy hospitable board
With health and peace be crown'd;
And every charm of heartfelt ease
Beneath thy roof be found.

So, when destruction lurks unseen,
Which men like mice may share,
May some kind angel clear thy path,
And break the hidden snare.

[Page 41]

TO MRS. P--------,

With some Drawings of BIRDS and INSECTS.

The kindred arts to please thee shall conspire,
One dip the pencil, and one string the lyre.

POPE.

AMANDA bids; at her command again
I seize the pencil, or resume the pen;
No other call my willing hand requires,
And friendship, better than a Muse inspires.

  Painting and poetry are near allied;
The kindred arts two sister Muses guide;

[Page 42]

This charms the eye, that steals upon the ear;
There sounds are tun'd; and colours blended here.
This, with a silent touch enchants our eyes,
And bids a gayer brighter world arise:
That, less allied to sense, with deeper art
Can pierce the close recesses of the heart;
By well set syllables, and potent sound,
Can rouse, can chill the breast, can sooth, can wound;
To life adds motion, and to beauty soul,
And breathes a spirit through the finish'd whole:
Each perfects each, in friendly union join'd;
This gives Amanda's form, and that her mind.

  But humbler themes my artless hand requires,
Nor higher than the feather'd tribe aspires.
Yet who the various nations can declare
That plow with busy wing the peopled air?
These cleave the crumbling bark for insect food;

[Page 43]

Those dip their crooked beak in kindred blood;
Some haunt the rushy moor, the lonely woods;
Some bathe their silver plumage in the floods;
Some fly to man, his houshold gods implore,
And gather round his hospitable door;
Wait the known call, and find protection there
From all the lesser tyrants of the air.

  The tawny EAGLE seats his callow brood
High on the cliff, and feasts his young with blood.
On Snowden's rocks, or Orkney's wide domain,
Whose beetling cliffs o'erhang the western main,
The royal bird his lonely kingdom forms
Amidst the gathering clouds, and sullen storms:
Thro' the wide waste of air he darts his sight
And holds his sounding pinions pois'd for flight;
With cruel eye premeditates the war,
And marks his destin'd victim from afar:

[Page 44]

Descending in a whirlwind to the ground,
His pinions like the rush of waters sound;
The fairest of the fold he bears away,
And to his nest compels the struggling prey.
He scorns the game by meaner hunters tore,
And dips his talons in no vulgar gore.

  With lovelier pomp along the grassy plain
The silver PHEASANT draws his shining train.
Once on the painted banks of Ganges' stream,
He spread his plumage to the sunny gleam:
But now the wiry net his flight confines,
He lowers his purple crest, and inly pines.
To claim the verse, unnumber'd tribes appear
That swell the music of the vernal year:
Seiz'd with the spirit of the kindly spring
They tune the voice, and sleek the glossy wing:
With emulative strife the notes prolong

[Page 45]

And pour out all their little souls in song.
When winter bites upon the naked plain,
Nor food nor shelter in the groves remain;
By instinct led, a firm united band,
As marshal'd by some skilful general's hand,
The congregated nations wing their way
In dusky columns o'er the trackless sea;
In clouds unnumber'd annual hover o'er
The craggy Bass, or Kilda's utmost shore:
Thence spread their sails to meet the southern wind,
And leave the gathering tempest far behind;
Pursue the circling sun's indulgent ray,
Course the swift seasons, and o'ertake the day.

  Not so the insect race, ordain'd to keep
The lazy sabbath of a half-year's sleep.
Entomb'd, beneath the filmy web they lie,
And wait the influence of a kinder sky.

[Page 46]

When vernal sun-beams pierce their dark retreat
The heaving tomb distends with vital heat;
The full-form'd brood impatient of their cell
Start from their trance, and burst their silken shell;
Trembling a-while they stand, and scarcely dare
To launch at once upon the untried air:
At length assur'd, they catch the favouring gale,
And leave their sordid spoils, and high in Ether sail.
So when Rinaldo struck the conscious rind
He found a nymph in every trunk confin'd;
The forest labours with convulsive throes,
The bursting trees the lovely births disclose,
And a gay troop of damsels round him stood,
Where late was rugged bark and lifeless wood.
Lo! the bright train their radiant wings unfold,
With silver fring'd and freckl'd o'er with gold.
On the gay bosom of some fragrant flower
They idly fluttering live their little hour;

[Page 47]

Their life all pleasure, and their task all play,
All spring their age, and sunshine all their day.
Not so the child of sorrow, wretched man,
His course with toil concludes, with pain began,
That his high destiny he might discern,
And in misfortune's school this lesson learn,
Pleasure's the portion of th' inferior kind;
But glory, virtue, Heaven for Man design'd.

  What atom-forms of insect life appear!
And who can follow nature's pencil here?
Their wings with azure, green, and purple gloss'd
Studded with colour'd eyes, with gems emboss'd,
Inlaid with pearl, and mark'd with various stains
Of lively crimson thro' their dusky veins.
Some shoot like living stars, athwart the night,
And scatter from their wings a vivid light,
To guide the Indian to his tawny loves,
As thro' the woods with cautious step he moves.

[Page 48]

See the proud giant of the beetle race;
What shining arms his polish'd limbs enchase!
Like some stern warrior formidably bright
His steely sides reflect a gleaming light:
On his large forehead spreading horns he wears,
And high in air the branching antlers bears:
O'er many an inch extends his wide domain,
And his rich treasury swells with hoarded grain.

  Thy friend thus strives to cheat the lonely hour,
With song, or paint, an insect, or a flower:
Yet, if Amanda praise the flowing line,
And bend delighted o'er the gay design,
I envy not, nor emulate the fame
Or of the painter's, or the poet's name:
Could I to both with equal claim pretend,
Yet far, far dearer were the name of FRIEND.

[Page 49]

CHARACTERS. {1}

-------- semper amabilem.
HORAT.

OH! born to sooth distress, and lighten care;
Lively as soft, and innocent as fair;
Blest with that sweet simplicity of thought
So rarely found, and never to be taught;
Of winning speech, endearing, artless, kind,
The loveliest pattern of a female mind;
Like some fair spirit from the realms of rest
With all her native heaven within her breast;
So pure, so good, she scarce can guess at sin,

[Page 50]

But thinks the world without like that within;
Such melting tenderness, so fond to bless,
Her charity almost becomes excess.
Wealth may be courted, wisdom be rever'd,
And beauty prais'd, and brutal strength be fear'd;
But goodness only can affection move;
And love must owe its origin to love.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Illam quicquid agit, quoquo vestigia flectit,
Componit furtim, subsequiturque decor.
TIBUL.

OF gentle manners, and of taste refin'd,
With all the graces of a polish'd mind.
Clear sense and truth still shone in all she spoke,

[Page 51]

And from her lips no idle sentence broke.
Each nicer elegance of art she knew;
Correctly fair, and regularly true.
Her ready fingers plied with equal skill
The pencil's task, the needle, or the quill.
So pois'd her feelings, so compos'd her soul,
So subject all to reason's calm controul,
One only passion, strong and unconfin'd,
Disturb'd the balance of her even mind:
One passion rul'd despotic in her breast,
In every word, and look, and thought confest:
But that was love, and love delights to bless
The generous transports of a fond excess.


Celebration Notes:

  1. McCarthy and Kraft (1994) identify these characters as Susannah Barbauld Marissal, Rochmont Barbauld's sister; and Martha Jennings, Anna Barbauld's first cousin, who married her brother, John Aikin.

[Page 52]

On a LADY's WRITING.

HER even lines her steady temper show;
Neat as her dress, and polish'd as her brow;
Strong as her judgment, easy as her air;
Correct though free, and regular though fair:
And the same graces o'er her pen preside
That form her manners and her footsteps guide.

[Page 53]

HYMN to CONTENT.

---------------------- natura beatis
Omnibus esse dedit, si quis cognoverit uti.
CLAUDIAN.

O Thou, the Nymph with placid eye!
O seldom found, yet ever nigh!
     Receive my temperate vow:
Not all the storms that shake the pole
Can e'er disturb thy halcyon soul,
     And smooth unalter'd brow.

O come, in simple vest array'd,
With all thy sober cheer display'd

[Page 54]

     To bless my longing sight;
Thy mien compos'd, thy even pace,
Thy meek regard, thy matron grace,
     And chaste subdued delight.

No more by varying passions beat,
O gentle guide my pilgrim feet
     To find thy hermit cell;
Where in some pure and equal sky
Beneath thy soft indulgent eye
     The modest virtues dwell.

Simplicity in attic vest,
And Innocence with candid breast,
     And clear undaunted eye;
And Hope, who points to distant years,
Fair opening thro' this vale of tears
     A vista to the sky.

[Page 55]

There Health, thro' whose calm bosom glide
The temperate joys in even tide,
     That rarely ebb or flow;
And Patience there, thy sister meek,
Presents her mild, unvarying cheek
     To meet the offer'd blow.

Her influence taught the Phrygian sage
A tyrant master's wanton rage
     With settled smiles to meet:
Inur'd to toil and bitter bread
He bow'd his meek submitted head,
     And kiss'd thy sainted feet.

But thou, oh Nymph retir'd and coy!
In what brown hamlet dost thou joy
     To tell thy tender tale;
The lowliest children of the ground,

[Page 56]

Moss-rose, and violet blossom round,
     And lily of the vale.

O say what soft propitious hour
I best may choose to hail thy power,
     And court thy gentle sway?
When Autumn, friendly to the Muse,
Shall thy own modest tints diffuse,
     And shed thy milder day.

When Eve, her dewy star beneath,
Thy balmy spirit loves to breathe,
     And every storm is laid;
If such an hour was e'er thy choice,
Oft let me hear thy soothing voice
     Low whispering thro' the shade.

[Page 57]

To WISDOM.

Dona præsentis rape lætus horæ, ac
Linque severa.
HORAT.

O WISDOM! if thy soft controul
Can sooth the sickness of the soul,
Can bid the warring passions cease,
And breathe the calm of tender peace,
WISDOM! I bless thy gentle sway,
And ever, ever will obey.

  But if thou com'st with frown austere
To nurse the brood of care and fear;
To bid our sweetest passions die,
And leave us in their room a sigh;

[Page 58]

O if thine aspect stern have power
To wither each poor transient flower
That cheers this pilgrimage of woe,
And dry the springs whence hope should flow;
WISDOM, thine empire I disclaim,
Thou empty boast of pompous name!
In gloomy shade of cloisters dwell.
But never haunt my chearful cell.
Hail to pleasure's frolic train!
Hail to fancy's golden reign!
Festive mirth, and laughter wild,
Free and sportful as the child!
Hope with eager sparkling eyes,
And easy faith, and fond surprise!
Let these, in fairy colours drest,
For ever share my careless breast:
Then, tho' wise I may not be,
The wise themselves shall envy me.

[Page 59]

THE

ORIGIN

OF

SONG-WRITING. *

Illic indocto primum se exercuit arcu;
Hei mihi quam doctas nunc habet ille manus!
TIBUL.

WHEN Cupid, wanton boy, was young,
His wings unfledg'd, and rude his tongue,

* Addressed to the Author of Essays on Song-Writing.

[Page 60]

He loiter'd in Arcadian bowers,
And hid his bow in wreaths of flowers;
Or pierc'd some fond unguarded heart,
With now and then a random dart;
But heroes scorn'd the idle boy,
And love was but a shepherd's toy:
When Venus, vex'd to see her child
Amid the forests thus run wild,
Would point him out some nobler game,
Gods, and godlike men to tame.
She seiz'd the boy's reluctant hand,
And led him to the virgin band,
Where the sister Muses round
Swell the deep majestic sound;
And in solemn strains unite,
Breathing chaste, severe delight:
Songs of chiefs, and heroes old,
In unsubmitting virtue bold;

[Page 61]

Of even valour's temperate heat,
And toils to stubborn patience sweet;
Of nodding plumes, and burnish'd arms,
And glory's bright terrific charms.

The potent sounds like light'ning dart
Resistless thro' the glowing heart;
Of power to lift the fixed soul
High o'er fortune's proud controul;
Kindling deep, prophetic musing;
Love of beauteous death infusing;
Scorn, and unconquerable hate
Of tyrant pride's unhallow'd state.
The boy abash'd, and half afraid,
Beheld each chaste immortal maid:
Pallas spread her Egis there;
Mars stood by with threat'ning air;

[Page 62]

And stern Diana's icy look
With sudden chill his bosom struck.

  Daughters of Jove receive the child,
The queen of beauty said, and smil'd:
(Her rosy breath perfum'd the air
And scatter'd sweet contagion there;
Relenting nature learn'd to languish,
And sicken'd with delightful anguish:)
Receive him, artless yet and young;
Refine his air and smooth his tongue:
Conduct him thro' your fav'rite bowers,
Enrich'd with fair perennial flowers,
To solemn shades and springs that lie
Remote from each unhallow'd eye;
Teach him to spell those mystic names
That kindle bright immortal flames;

[Page 63]

And guide his young unpractis'd feet
To reach coy learning's lofty seat.

  Ah, luckless hour! mistaken maids!
When Cupid sought the Muse's shades:
Of their sweetest notes beguil'd,
By the sly insidious child,
Now of power his darts are found
Twice ten thousand times to wound.
Now no more the slacken'd strings
Breathe of high immortal things,
But Cupid tunes the Muse's lyre
To languid notes of soft desire.
In every clime, in every tongue,
'Tis love inspires the poet's song:
Hence Sappho's soft infectious page;
Monimia's woe; Othello's rage;
Abandon'd Dido's fruitless prayer;

[Page 64]

And Eloisa's long despair;
The garland bless'd with many a vow,
For haughty Sacharissa's brow;
And, wash'd with tears, the mournful verse
That Petrarch laid on Laura's herse.

  But more than all the sister quire,
Music confess'd the pleasing fire.
Here sovereign Cupid reign'd alone;
Music and song were all his own.
Sweet as in old Arcadian plains,
The British pipe has caught the strains:
And where the Tweed's pure current glides,
Or Liffy rolls her limpid tides,
Or Thames his oozy waters leads
Thro' rural bowers or yellow meads,
With many an old romantic tale
Has cheer'd the lone sequester'd vale;

[Page 65]

With many a sweet and tender lay
Deceiv'd the tiresome summer-day.

  'Tis yours to cull with happy art
Each meaning verse that speaks the heart;
And fair array'd, in order meet,
To lay the wreath at beauty's feet.

[Page 66]

SONGS.

SONG I.

  COME here fond youth, whoe'er thou be,
  That boasts to love as well as me;
And if thy breast have felt so wide a wound,
  Come hither and thy flame approve;
  I'll teach thee what it is to love,
And by what marks true passion may be found.

  It is to be all bath'd in tears;
  To live upon a smile for years;
To lie whole ages at a beauty's feet:

[Page 67]

  To kneel, to languish and implore;
  And still tho' she disdain, adore:
It is to do all this, and think thy sufferings sweet.

  It is to gaze upon her eyes
  With eager joy and fond surprise;
Yet temper'd with such chaste and awful fear
  As wretches feel who wait their doom;
  Nor must one ruder thought presume
Tho' but in whispers breath'd, to meet her ear.

  It is to hope, tho' hope were lost;
  Tho' heaven and earth thy passion crost;
Tho' she were bright as sainted queens above,
  And thou the least and meanest swain
  That folds his flock upon the plain,
Yet if thou dar'st not hope, thou dost not love.

[Page 68]

  It is to quench thy joy in tears;
  To nurse strange doubts and groundless fears:
If pangs of jealousy thou hast not prov'd,
  Tho' she were fonder and more true
  Than any nymph old poets drew,
Oh never dream again that thou hast lov'd.

  If when the darling maid is gone,
  Thou dost not seek to be alone,
Wrapt in a pleasing trance of tender woe,
  And muse, and fold thy languid arms,
  Feeding thy fancy on her charms,
Thou dost not love, for love is nourish'd so.

  If any hopes thy bosom share
  But those which love has planted there,
Or any cares but his thy breast enthrall,

[Page 69]

  Thou never yet his power hast known;
  Love sits on a despotic throne,
And reigns a tyrant, if he reigns at all.

  Now if thou art so lost a thing,
  Here all thy tender sorrows bring,
And prove whose patience longest can endure:
  We'll strive whose fancy shall be lost
  In dreams of fondest passion most;
For if thou thus hast lov'd, oh! never hope a cure.

SONG II.

IF ever thou didst joy to bind
Two hearts in equal passion join'd,

[Page 70]

O son of VENUS! hear me now,
And bid FLORELLA bless my vow.

If any bliss reserv'd for me
Thou in the leaves of fate should'st see;
If any white propitious hour,
Pregnant with hoarded joys in store;

Now, now the mighty treasure give,
In her for whom alone I live;
In sterling love pay all the sum,
And I'll absolve the fates to come.

In all the pride of full-blown charms
Yield her, relenting, to my arms:
Her bosom touch with soft desires,
And let her feel what she inspires.

[Page 71]

But, CUPID, if thine aid be vain
The dear reluctant maid to gain;
If still with cold averted eyes
She dash my hopes, and scorn my sighs;

O! grant ('tis all I ask of thee)
That I no more may change than she;
But still with duteous zeal love on,
When every gleam of hope is gone.

Leave me then alone to languish;
Think not time can heal my anguish;
Pity the woes which I endure;
But never, never grant a cure.

[Page 72]

SONG III.

SYLVIA.  LEAVE me, simple shepherd, leave me;
            Drag no more a hopeless chain:
          I cannot like, nor would deceive thee;
            Love the maid that loves again.

CORIN.   Tho' more gentle nymphs surround me,
            Kindly pitying what I feel,
          Only you have power to wound me;
            SYLVIA, only you can heal.

SYLVIA.  CORIN, cease this idle teazing;
            Love that's forc'd is harsh and sour:
          If the lover be displeasing,
            To persist disgusts the more.

[Page 73]

CORIN.   'Tis in vain, in vain to fly me,
            SYLVIA, I will still pursue;
          Twenty thousand times deny me,
            I will kneel and weep anew.

SYLVIA.  CUPID ne'er shall make me languish,
            I was born averse to love;
          Lovers' sighs, and tears, and anguish,
            Mirth and pastime to me prove.

CORIN.   Still I vow with patient duty
            Thus to meet your proudest scorn;
          You for unrelenting beauty,
            I for constant love was born.

But the fates had not consented,
  Since they both did fickle prove;
Of her scorn the maid repented,
  And the shepherdof his love.

[Page 74]

SONG IV.

WHEN gentle CELIA first I knew,
A breast so good, so kind, so true,
  Reason and taste approv'd;
Pleas'd to indulge so pure a flame,
I call'd it by too soft a name,
  And fondly thought I lov'd.

Till CHLORIS came: with sad surprise
I felt the lightning of her eyes
  Thro' all my senses run;
All glowing with resistless charms,
She fill'd my breast with new alarms,
  I saw, and was undone.

[Page 75]

O CELIA! dear unhappy maid,
Forbear the weakness to upbraid
  Which ought your scorn to move;
I know this beauty false and vain,
I know she triumphs in my pain,
  Yet still I feel I love.

Thy gentle smiles no more can please,
Nor can thy softest friendship ease
  The torments I endure;
Think what that wounded breast must feel
Which truth and kindness cannot heal,
  Nor e'en thy pity cure.

Oft shall I curse my iron chain,
And wish again thy milder reign
  With long and vain regret;

[Page 76]

All that I can, to thee I give,
And could I still to reason live
  I were thy captive yet.

But passion's wild impetuous sea
Hurries me far from peace and thee;
  'Twere vain to struggle more:
Thus the poor sailor slumbering lies,
While swelling tides around him rise,
  And push his bark from shore.

In vain he spreads his helpless arms,
His pitying friends with fond alarms
  In vain deplore his state;
Still far and farther from the coast,
On the high surge his bark is tost,
  And foundering yields to fate.

[Page 77]

SONG V.

AS near a weeping spring reclin'd
The beauteous ARAMINTA pin'd,
And mourn'd a false ungrateful youth;
While dying echoes caught the sound,
And spread the soft complaints around
Of broken vows and alter'd truth;

An aged shepherd heard her moan,
And thus in pity's kindest tone
Address'd the lost despairing maid:
Cease, cease unhappy fair to grieve,
For sounds, tho' sweet, can ne'er relieve
A breaking heart by love betray'd.

[Page 78]

Why should'st thou waste such precious showers,
That fall like dew on wither'd flowers,
But dying passion ne'er restor'd;
In beauty's empire is no mean,
And woman, either slave or queen,
Is quickly scorn'd when not ador'd.

Those liquid pearls from either eye,
Which might an eastern empire buy,
Unvalued here and fruitless fall;
No art the season can renew
When love was young, and DAMON true;
No tears a wandering heart recall.

Cease, cease to grieve, thy tears are vain,
Should those fair orbs in drops of rain
Vie with a weeping southern sky:

[Page 79]

For hearts o'ercome with love and grief
All nature yields but one relief;
Die, hapless ARAMINTA, die.

SONG VI.

WHEN first upon your tender cheek
I saw the morn of beauty break
  With mild and chearing beam,
I bow'd before your infant shrine,
The earliest sighs you had were mine,
  And you my darling theme.

I saw you in that opening morn
For beauty's boundless empire born,

[Page 80]

  And first confess'd your sway;
And e'er your thoughts, devoid of art,
Could learn the value of a heart,
  I gave my heart away.

I watch'd the dawn of every grace,
And gaz'd upon that angel face,
  While yet 'twas safe to gaze;
And fondly bless'd each rising charm,
Nor thought such innocence could harm
  The peace of future days.

But now despotic o'er the plains
The awful noon of beauty reigns,
  And kneeling crowds adore;
Its beams arise too fiercely bright,
Danger and death attend the sight,
  And I must hope no more.

[Page 81]

Thus to the rising God of day
Their early vows the Persians pay,
  And bless the spreading fire;
Whose glowing chariot mounting soon
Pours on their heads the burning noon;
  They sicken, and expire.

[Page 82]

DELIA,

AN ELEGY.

---tecum ut longæ sociarem gaudia vitæ,
Inque tuo caderet nostra senecta sinu.
TIBUL.

YES, DELIA loves! My fondest vows are blest;
Farewell the memory of her past disdain;
One kind relenting glance has heal'd my breast,
And balanc'd in a moment years of pain.

O'er her soft cheek consenting blushes move,
And with kind stealth her secret soul betray;

[Page 83]

Blushes, which usher in the morn of love,
Sure as the red'ning east foretels the day.

Her tender smiles shall pay me with delight
For many a bitter pang of jealous fear;
For many an anxious day, and sleepless night,
For many a stifled sigh, and silent tear.

DELIA shall come, and bless my lone retreat;
She does not scorn the shepherd's lowly life;
She will not blush to leave the splendid seat,
And own the title of a poor man's wife.

The simple knot shall bind her gather'd hair,
The russet garment clasp her lovely breast:
DELIA shall mix among the rural fair,
By charms alone distinguish'd from the rest.

[Page 84]

And meek Simplicity, neglected maid,
Shall bid my fair in native graces shine:
She, only she, shall lend her modest aid,
Chaste, sober priestess, at sweet beauty's shrine!

How sweet to muse by murmuring springs reclin'd;
Or loitering careless in the shady grove,
Indulge the gentlest feelings of the mind,
And pity those who live to aught but love!

When DELIA'S hand unlocks her shining hair,
And o'er her shoulder spreads the flowing gold,
Base were the man who one bright tress would spare
For all the ore of India's coarser mold.

By her dear side with what content I'd toil,
Patient of any labour in her sight;
Guide the slow plough, or turn the stubborn soil,
Till the last, ling'ring beam of doubtful light.

[Page 85]

But softer tasks divide my DELIA'S hours;
To watch the firstlings at their harmless play;
With welcome shade to screen the languid flowers,
That sicken in the summer's parching ray.

Oft will she stoop amidst her evening walk,
With tender hand each bruised plant to rear;
To bind the drooping lily's broken stalk,
And nurse the blossoms of the infant year.

When beating rains forbid our feet to roam,
We'll shelter'd sit, and turn the storied page;
There see what passions shake the lofty dome
With mad ambition or ungovern'd rage:

What headlong ruin oft involves the great;
What conscious terrors guilty bosoms prove;
What strange and sudden turns of adverse fate
Tear the sad virgin from her plighted love.

[Page 86]

DELIA shall read, and drop a gentle tear;
Then cast her eyes around the low-roof'd cot,
And own the fates have dealt more kindly here,
That blest with only love our little lot.

For love has sworn (I heard the awful vow)
The wav'ring heart shall never be his care,
That stoops at any baser shrine to bow;
And what he cannot rule, he scorns to share.

My heart in DELIA is so fully blest,
It has no room to lodge another joy;
My peace all leans upon that gentle breast,
And only there misfortune can annoy.

Our silent hours shall steal unmark'd away
In one long tender calm of rural peace;
And measure many a fair unblemish'd day
Of cheerful leisure and poetic ease.

[Page 87]

The proud unfeeling world their lot shall scorn
Who 'midst inglorious shades can poorly dwell:
Yet if some youth, for gentler passions born,
Shall chance to wander near our lowly cell,

His feeling breast with purer flames shall glow;
And leaving pomp, and state, and cares behind,
Shall own the world has little to bestow
Where two fond hearts in equal love are join'd.

[Page 88]

OVID to his WIFE:

Imitated from different Parts of his TRISTIA.

Jam mea cygneas imitantur tempora plumas,
Inficit & nigras alba senecta comas:

TRIST. Lib. iv. Eleg. 8

My aged head now stoops its honours low,
Bow'd with the load of fifty winters' snow;
And for the raven's glossy black assumes
The downy whiteness of the cygnet's plumes:
Loose scatter'd hairs around my temples stray,
And spread the mournful shade of sickly grey:

[Page 89]

I bend beneath the weight of broken years,
Averse to change, and chill'd with causeless fears.
The season now invites me to retire
To the dear lares of my household fire;
To homely scenes of calm domestic peace,
A poet's leisure, and an old man's ease;
To wear the remnant of uncertain life
In the fond bosom of a faithful wife;
In safe repose my last few hours to spend,
Nor fearful nor impatient of their end.
Thus a safe port the wave-worn vessels gain,
Nor tempt again the dangers of the main;
Thus the proud steed, when youthful glory fades,
And creeping age his stiffening limbs invades,
Lies stretch'd at ease on the luxuriant plain,
And dreams his morning triumphs o'er again.
The hardy veteran from the camp retires,
His joints unstrung, and feeds his household fires;

[Page 90]

Satiate with fame enjoys well-earn'd repose,
And sees his stormy day serenely close.

  Not such my lot! Severer fates decree
My shatter'd bark must plough an unknown sea.
Forc'd from my native seats and sacred home,
Friendless, alone, thro' Scythian wilds to roam;
With trembling knees o'er unknown hills I go,
Stiff with blue ice and heap'd with drifted snow.
Pale suns there strike their feeble rays in vain,
Which faintly glance against the marble plain:
Red Ister there, which madly lash'd the shore,
His idle urn seal'd up, forgets to roar:
Stern winter in eternal triumph reigns,
Shuts up the bounteous year and starves the plains.
My failing eyes the weary waste explore,
The savage mountains and the dreary shore,
And vainly look for scenes of old delight;

[Page 91]

No lov'd familiar objects meet my sight;
No long remember'd streams or conscious bowers,
'Wake the gay memory of youthful hours.
I fondly hop'd, content with learned ease,
To walk amidst cotemporary trees;
In every scene some fav'rite spot to trace,
And meet in all some kind domestic face;
To stretch my limbs upon my native soil,
With long vacation from unquiet toil;
Resign my breath where first that breath I drew,
And sink into the spot from whence I grew.
But if my feeble age is doom'd to try
Unusual seasons and a foreign sky,
To some more genial clime let me repair,
And taste the healing balm of milder air;
Near to the glowing sun's directer ray,
And pitch my tent beneath the eye of day.
Could not the winter in my veins suffice,

[Page 92]

Without the added rage of Scythian skies?
The snow of time my vital heat exhaust,
And hoary age, without Sarmatian frost?

  Yet storm and tempest are of ills the least
Which this inhospitable land infest:
Society than solitude is worse,
And man to man is still the greatest curse.
A savage race my fearful steps surround,
Practis'd in blood and disciplin'd to wound;
Unknown alike to pity as to fear,
Hard as their soil, and as their skies severe.
Skill'd in each mystery of direst art,
They arm with double death the poison'd dart.
Uncomb'd and horrid grows their spiky hair;
Uncouth their vesture, terrible their air.
The lurking dagger at their side hung low,
Leaps in quick vengeance on the hapless foe.

[Page 93]

No stedfast faith is here, no sure repose;
An armed truce is all this nation knows:
The rage of battle works, when battles cease;
And wars are brooding in the lap of peace.
Since CAESAR wills, and I a wretch must be,
Let me be safe at least in misery!
To my sad grave in calm oblivion steal,
Nor add the woes I fear to all I feel!
Ye tuneful maids! who once, in happier days,
Beneath the myrtle grove inspir'd my lays,
How shall I now your wonted aid implore;
Where seek your footsteps on this savage shore,
Whose ruder echoes ne'er were taught to bear
The poet's numbers or the lover's care?

  Yet here, forever here, your bard must dwell,
Who sung of sports and tender loves so well.
Here must he live: but when he yields his breath

[Page 94]

O let him not be exil'd even in death!
Lest mix'd with Scythian shades, a Roman ghost
Wander on this inhospitable coast.
CAESAR no more shall urge a wretch's doom;
The bolt of JOVE pursues not in the tomb.
To thee, dear wife, some friend with pious care
All that of OVID then remains shall bear;
Then will thou weep to see me so return,
And with fond passion clasp my silent urn.
O check thy grief, that tender bosom spare,
Hurt not thy cheeks, nor soil thy flowing hair.
Press the pale marble with thy lips, and give
One precious tear, and bid my memory live.
The silent dust shall glow at thy command,
And the warm ashes feel thy pious hand.

[Page 95]

To a LADY,

With some painted FLOWERS.

-----------------tibi lilia plenis
Ecce ferunt nymphae calathis.
VIRGIL.

FLOWERS to the fair: To you these flowers I bring,
And strive to greet you with an earlier spring.
Flowers sweet, and gay, and delicate like you;
Emblems of innocence, and beauty too.
With flowers the Graces bind their yellow hair,
And flowery wreaths consenting lovers wear.

[Page 96]

Flowers, the sole luxury which nature knew,
In Eden's pure and guiltless garden grew.
To loftier forms are rougher tasks assign'd;
The sheltering oak resists the stormy wind,
The tougher yew repels invading foes,
And the tall pine for future navies grows;
But this soft family, to cares unknown,
Were born for pleasure and delight alone.
Gay without toil, and lovely without art,
They spring to cheer the sense, and glad the heart.
Nor blush, my fair, to own you copy these;
Your best, your sweetest empire isto please.

[Page 97]

ODE to SPRING.

Hope waits upon the flowery prime.
WALLER.

SWEET daughter of a rough and stormy sire,
Hoar Winter's blooming child; delightful Spring!
    Whose unshorn locks with leaves
    And swelling buds are crown'd;

From the green islands of eternal youth,
(Crown'd with fresh blooms, and ever springing shade,)
    Turn, hither turn thy step,
    O thou, whose powerful voice

[Page 98]

More sweet than softest touch of Doric reed,
Or Lydian flute, can sooth the madding winds,
    And thro' the stormy deep
    Breathe thy own tender calm.

Thee, best belov'd! the virgin train await
With songs and festial rites, and joy to rove
    Thy blooming wilds among,
    And vales and dewy lawns,

With untir'd feet; and cull thy earliest sweets
To weave fresh garlands for the glowing brow
    Of him, the favour'd youth
    That prompts their whisper'd sigh.

Unlock thy copious stores; those tender showers
That drop their sweetness on the infant buds,
    And silent dews that swell
    The milky ear's green stem,

[Page 99]

And feed the flowering osier's early shoots;
And call those winds which thro' the whispering boughs
    With warm and pleasant breath
    Salute the blowing flowers.

Now let me sit beneath the whitening thorn,
And mark thy spreading tints steal o'er the dale;
    And watch with patient eye
    Thy fair unfolding charms.

O nymph approach! while yet the temperate sun
With bashful forehead, thro' the cool moist air
    Throws his young maiden beams,
    And with chaste kisses wooes

The earth's fair bosom; while the streaming veil
Of lucid clouds with kind and frequent shade
    Protects thy modest blooms
    From his severer blaze.

[Page 100]

Sweet is thy reign, but short; The red dog-star
Shall scorch thy tresses, and the mower's scythe
    Thy greens, thy flow'rets all,
    Remorseless shall destroy.

Reluctant shall I bid thee then farewel;
For O, not all that Autumn's lap contains,
    Nor Summer's ruddiest fruits,
    Can aught for thee atone

Fair Spring! whose simplest promise more delights
Than all their largest wealth, and thro' the heart
    Each joy and new-born hope
    With softest influence breathes.

[Page 101]

VERSES on MRS. ROWE.

How from the summit of the grove she fell,
And left it unharmonious ------------

YOUNG.
SUCH were the notes our chaster SAPPHO sung, {1}
And every Muse drop'd honey on her tongue.
Blest shade! how pure a breath of praise was thine,
Whose spotless life was faultless as thy line:
In whom each worth and every grace conspire,
The christian's meekness, and the poet's fire.
Learn'd without pride, a woman without art;
The sweetest manners and the gentlest heart.

[Page 102]

Smooth like her verse her passions learn'd to move,
And her whole soul was harmony and love.
Virtue that breast without a conflict gain'd,
And easy like a native monarch reign'd.
On earth still favour'd as by heaven approv'd,
The world applauded, and ALEXIS lov'd. {2}
With love, with health, with fame, and friendship blest,
And of a cheerful heart the constant feast,
What more of bliss sincere could earth bestow?
What purer heaven could angels taste below?
But bliss from earth's vain scenes too quickly flies;
The golden cord is brokeALEXIS dies.
Now in the leafy shade, and widow'd grove,
Sad PHILOMELA mourns her absent love.
Now deep retir'd in FROME's enchanting vale,
She pours her tuneful sorrows on the gale;
Without one fond reserve the world disclaims,
And gives up all her soul to heavenly flames.

[Page 103]

Yet in no useless gloom she wore her days;
She lov'd the work, and only shun'd the praise.
Her pious hand the poor, the mourner blest;
Her image liv'd in every kindred breast.
THYNN, CARTERET, BLACKMORE, ORRERY approv'd,
And PRIOR prais'd and noble HERTFORD lov'd;
Seraphic KENN, and tuneful WATTS were thine,
And virtue's noblest champions fill'd the line.
Blest in thy friendships! in thy death too blest!
Receiv'd without a pang to endless rest.
Heaven call'd the saint matur'd by length of days,
And her pure spirit was exhal'd in praise.
Bright pattern of thy sex, be thou my Muse;
Thy gentle sweetness thro' my soul diffuse:
Let me thy palm, tho' not thy laurel share,
And copy thee in charity and prayer.
Tho' for the bard my lines are far too faint,
Yet in my life let me transcribe the saint.


Celebration Notes:

  1. Elizabeth Singer Rowe (1674-1737), known under the poetic name of Philomela, and referred to here as "the chaster Sappho", was widely praised for her pious life and verse.
  2. Thomas Rowe, referred to here under the poetic name "Alexis", married Elizabeth Singer in 1710. Five years later, he died of consumption.

[Page 104]

TO MISS R----,

On her Attendance upon her Mother at BUXTON.

With lenient arts extend a mother's breath.
POPE.

WHEN blooming beauty in the noon of power,
While offer'd joys demand each sprightly hour,
With all that pomp of charms and winning mien
Which sure to conquer needs but to be seen;
When she, whose name the softest love inspires,
To the hush'd chamber of disease retires

[Page 105]

To watch and weep beside a parent's bed,
Catch the faint voice, and raise the languid head,
What mixt delight each feeling heart must warm!
An angel's office suits an angel's form.
Thus the tall column graceful rears its head
To prop some mould'ring tower with moss o'erspread,
Whose stately piles and arches yet display
The venerable graces of decay:
Thus round the wither'd trunk fresh shoots are seen
To shade their parent with a cheerful green.
More health, dear maid! thy soothing presence brings
Than purest skies, or salutary springs.
That voice, those looks such healing virtues bear,
Thy sweet reviving smiles might cheer despair;
On the pale lips detain the parting breath,
And bid hope blossom in the shades of death.
Beauty, like thine, could never reach a charm
So powerful to subdue, so sure to warm.

[Page 106]

On her lov'd child behold the mother gaze,
In weakness pleas'd, and smiling thro' decays,
And leaning on that breast her cares asswage;
How soft a pillow for declining age!

  For this, when that fair frame must feel decay,
(Ye fates protract it to a distant day)
When thy approach no tumults shall impart,
Nor that commanding glance strike thro' the heart,
When meaner beauties shall have leave to shine,
And crowds divide the homage lately thine,
Not with the transient praise those charms can boast
Shall thy fair fame and gentle deeds be lost:
Some pious hand shall thy weak limbs sustain,
And pay thee back these generous cares again;
Thy name shall flourish by the good approv'd,
Thy memory honour'd, and thy dust belov'd.

[Page 107]

ON THE DEATH OF

MRS. JENNINGS. *

Est tamen quietè, & pureè, & eleganter actæ ætatis,
placida ac lenis senectus.
Cicero de Senect.

'TIS past: dear venerable shade, farewel!
Thy blameless life thy peaceful death shall tell.
Clear to the last thy setting orb has run;
Pure, bright, and healthy like a frosty sun:

*The Author's Grandmother.

[Page 108]

And late old age with hand indulgent shed
Its mildest winter on thy favour'd head.
For heaven prolong'd her life to spread its praise,
And bless'd her with a patriarch's length of days.
The truest praise was hers, a cheerful heart,
Prone to enjoy, and ready to impart.
An Israelite indeed, and free from guile,
She show'd that piety and age could smile.
Religion had her heart, her cares, her voice;
'Twas her last refuge, as her earliest choice.
To holy Anna's spirit not more dear
The church of Israel, and the house of prayer.
Her spreading offspring of the fourth degree
Fill'd her fond arms, and clasp'd her trembling knee.
Matur'd at length for some more perfect scene,
Her hopes all bright, her prospects all serene,
Each part of life sustain'd with equal worth,
And not a wish left unfulfill'd on earth,

[Page 109]

Like a tir'd traveller with sleep opprest,
Within her children's arms she dropt to rest.
Farewel! thy cherish'd image, ever dear,
Shall many a heart with pious love revere:
Long, long shall mine her honour'd memory bless,
Who gave the dearest blessing I possess.

[Page 110]

HYMNS.

Quid prius dicam solitis parentis
Laudibus? qui res hominum, ac Deorum,
Qui mare, ac terras, variisque mundum
Temperat horis ?
HORAT.

HYMN I.

  JEHOVAH reigns: let every nation hear,
  And at his footstool bow with holy fear;

[Page 111]

  Let heaven's high arches echo with his name,
  And the wide peopled earth his praise proclaim,
Then send it down to hell's deep glooms resounding,
Thro' all her caves in dreadful murmurs sounding.

  He rules with wide and absolute command
  O'er the broad ocean and the stedfast land:
  JEHOVAH reigns, unbounded, and alone,
  And all creation hangs beneath his throne:
He reigns alone; let no inferior nature
Usurp, or share the throne of the creator.

  He saw the struggling beams of infant light
  Shoot thro' the massy gloom of ancient night;
  His spirit hush'd the elemental strife,
  And brooded o'er the kindling seeds of life:
Seasons and months began their long procession
And measur'd o'er the year in bright succession.

[Page 112]

  The joyful sun sprung up th' etherial way,
  Strong as a giant, as a bridegroom gay;
  And the pale moon diffus'd her shadowy light
  Superior o'er the dusky brow of night;
Ten thousand glittering lamps the skies adorning,
Numerous as dew drops from the womb of morning.

  Earth's blooming face with rising flowers he drest,
  And spread a verdant mantle o'er her breast;
  Then from the hollow of his hand he pours
  The circling waters round her winding shores,
The new-born world in their cool arms embracing,
And with soft murmurs still her banks caressing.

  At length she rose compleat in finish'd pride,
  All fair and spotless, like a virgin bride;
  Fresh with untarnish'd lustre as she stood
  Her Maker bless'd his work, and call'd it good;

[Page 113]

The morning stars with joyful acclamation
Exulting sung, and hail'd the new creation.

  Yet this fair world, the creature of a day,
  Tho' built by GOD'S right hand, must pass away;
  And long oblivion creep o'er mortal things,
  The fate of empires, and the pride of kings:
Eternal night shall veil their proudest story,
And drop the curtain o'er all human glory.

  The sun himself, with weary clouds opprest,
  Shall in his silent, dark pavilion rest;
  His golden urn shall broke and useless lie,
  Amidst the common ruins of the sky;
The stars rush headlong in the wild commotion
And bathe their glittering foreheads in the ocean.

[Page 114]

  But fix'd, O GOD! for-ever stands thy throne;
  JEHOVAH reigns, a universe alone;
  Th' eternal fire that feeds each vital flame,
  Collected, or diffus'd is still the same.
He dwells within his own unfathom'd essence,
And fills all space with his unbounded presence.

  But oh! our highest notes the theme debase,
  And silence is our least injurious praise:
  Cease, cease your songs, the daring flight controul,
  Revere him in the stillness of the soul;
With silent duty meekly bend before him,
And deep within your inmost hearts adore him.

[Page 115]

HYMN II.

PRAISE to GOD, immortal praise, *
For the love that crowns our days;
Bounteous source of every joy,
Let thy praise our tongues employ.

For the blessings of the field,
For the stores the gardens yield,
For the vine's exalted juice,
For the generous olive's use:

* ALTHOUGH the fig-tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines, the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat, the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls; yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the GOD of my salvation.
                                  HABAKKUK, iii. 17, 18.

[Page 116]

Flocks that whiten all the plain,
Yellow sheaves of ripen'd grain;
Clouds that drop their fatt'ning dews,
Suns that temperate warmth diffuse:

All that Spring with bounteous hand
Scatters o'er the smiling land:
All that liberal Autumn pours
From her rich o'erflowing stores:

These to thee, my GOD, we owe;
Source whence all our blessings flow;
And for these, my soul shall raise
Grateful vows and solemn praise.

Yet should rising whirlwinds tear
From its stem the ripening ear;
Should the fig-tree's blasted shoot
Drop her green untimely fruit;

[Page 117]

Should the vine put forth no more,
Nor the olive yield her store;
Though the sick'ning flocks should fall,
And the herds desert the stall;

Should thine alter'd hand restrain
The early and the latter rain;
Blast each opening bud of joy,
And the rising year destroy;

Yet to thee my soul should raise
Grateful vows, and solemn praise;
And, when every blessing's flown,
Love theefor thy self alone.

[Page 118]

HYMN III.

For EASTER-SUNDAY.

AGAIN the LORD of life and light
  Awakes the kindling ray;
Unseals the eyelids of the morn,
  And pours increasing day.

O what a night was that, which wrap'd
  The heathen world in gloom!
O what a sun which broke this day,
  Triumphant from the tomb!

This day be grateful homage paid,
  And loud hosannas sung;
Let gladness dwell in every heart,
  And praise on every tongue.

[Page 119]

Ten thousand differing lips shall join
  To hail this welcome morn,
Which scatters blessings from its wings,
  To nations yet unborn.

JESUS, the friend of human kind,
  With strong compassion mov'd,
Descended like a pitying GOD,
  To save the souls he lov'd.

The powers of darkness leagued in vain
  To bind his soul in death;
He shook their kingdom when he fell,
  With his expiring breath.

Not long the toils of hell could keep
  The hope of JUDAH's line;
Corruption never could take hold
  On aught so much divine.

[Page 120]

And now his conquering chariot wheels
  Ascend the lofty skies;
While broke, beneath his powerful cross,
  Death's iron sceptre lies.

Exalted high at GOD'S right hand,
  The LORD of all below,
Thro' him is pardoning love dispens'd,
  And boundless blessings flow.

And still for erring, guilty man,
  A brother's pity flows;
And still his bleeding heart is touch'd
  With memory of our woes.

To thee, my Saviour, and my king,
  Glad homage let me give;
And stand prepar'd like thee to die,
  With thee that I may live.

[Page 121]

HYMN IV.

BEHOLD, where breathing love divine,
  Our dying Master stands!
His weeping followers gathering round
  Receive his last commands.

From that mild teacher's parting lips
  What tender accents fell!
The gentle precept which he gave
  Became its author well.

"Bless'd is the man, whose soft'ning heart
  Feels all another's pain;
To whom the supplicating eye
  Was never rais'd in vain.

[Page 122]

"Whose breast expands with generous warmth
  A stranger's woes to feel;
And bleeds in pity o'er the wound
  He wants the power to heal.

"He spreads his kind supporting arms
  To every child of grief;
His secret bounty largely flows,
  And brings unask'd relief.

"To gentle offices of love
  His feet are never slow;
He views thro' mercy's melting eye
  A brother in a foe.

"Peace from the bosom of his GOD,
  My peace to him I give;
And when he kneels before the throne,
  His trembling soul shall live.

[Page 123]

"To him protection shall be shewn,
  And mercy from above
Descend on those who thus fulfil
  The perfect law of love."

HYMN V.

AWAKE, my soul! lift up thine eyes,
See where thy foes against thee rise,
In long array, a numerous host;
Awake, my soul, or thou art lost.

Here giant danger threat'ning stands
Mustering his pale terrific bands;
There pleasure's silken banners spread,
And willing souls are captive led.

[Page 124]

See where rebellious passions rage,
And fierce desires and lust engage;
The meanest foe of all the train
Has thousands and ten thousands slain.

Thou tread'st upon enchanted ground,
Perils and snares beset thee round;
Beware of all, guard every part,
But most, the traitor in thy heart.

Come then, my soul, now learn to wield
The weight of thine immortal shield;
Put on the armour from above
Of heavenly truth and heavenly love.

The terror and the charm repel,
And powers of earth, and powers of hell;
The man of Calvary triumph'd here;
Why should his faithful followers fear?

[Page 125]

An ADDRESS to the DEITY.

Deus est quodcunque vides, quocunque moveris.
LUCAN.

GOD of my life! and author of my days!
Permit my feeble voice to lisp thy praise;
And trembling, take upon a mortal tongue
That hallow'd name to harps of Seraphs sung.
Yet here the brightest Seraphs could no more
Than hide their faces, tremble, and adore.
Worms, angels, men, in every different sphere
Are equal all, for all are nothing here.

[Page 126]

All nature faints beneath the mighty name,
Which nature's works, thro' all their parts proclaim.
I feel that name my inmost thoughts controul,
And breathe an awful stillness thro' my soul;
As by a charm, the waves of grief subside;
Impetuous passion stops her headlong tide:
At thy felt presence all emotions cease,
And my hush'd spirit finds a sudden peace,
Till every worldly thought within me dies,
And earth's gay pageants vanish from my eyes;
Till all my sense is lost in infinite,
And one vast object fills my aching sight.

  But soon, alas! this holy calm is broke;
My soul submits to wear her wonted yoke;
With shackled pinions strives to soar in vain,
And mingles with the dross of earth again.
But he, our gracious Master, kind, as just,

[Page 127]

Knowing our frame, remembers man is dust.
His spirit, ever brooding o'er our mind,
Sees the first wish to better hopes inclin'd;
Marks the young dawn of every virtuous aim,
And fans the smoaking flax into a flame.
His ears are open to the softest cry,
His grace descends to meet the lifted eye;
He reads the language of a silent tear,
And sighs are incense from a heart sincere.
Such are the vows, the sacrifice I give;
Accept the vow, and bid the suppliant live:
From each terrestrial bondage set me free;
Still every wish that centers not in thee;
Bid my fond hopes, my vain disquiets cease,
And point my path to everlasting peace.

  If the soft hand of winning pleasure leads
By living waters, and thro' flow'ry meads,

[Page 128]

When all is smiling, tranquil, and serene,
And vernal beauty paints the flattering scene,
Oh! teach me to elude each latent snare,
And whisper to my sliding heartbeware!
With caution let me hear the Syren's voice,
And doubtful, with a trembling heart, rejoice.

  If friendless, in a vale of tears I stray,
Where briars wound, and thorns perplex my way,
Still let my steady soul thy goodness see,
And with strong confidence lay hold on thee;
With equal eye my various lot receive,
Resign'd to die, or resolute to live;
Prepar'd to kiss the sceptre or the rod,
While GOD is seen in all, and all in GOD.

  I read his awful name, emblazon'd high
With golden letters on th' illumin'd sky;

[Page 129]

Nor less the mystic characters I see
Wrought in each flower, inscrib'd on every tree;
In every leaf that trembles to the breeze
I hear the voice of GOD among the trees;
With thee in shady solitudes I walk,
With thee in busy crowded cities talk,
In every creature own thy forming power,
In each event thy providence adore.
Thy hopes shall animate my drooping soul,
Thy precepts guide me, and thy fear controul.
Thus shall I rest, unmov'd by all alarms,
Secure within the temple of thine arms,
From anxious cares, from gloomy terrors free,
And feel myself omnipotent in thee.

  Then when the last, the closing hour draws nigh,
And earth recedes before my swimming eye;
When trembling on the doubtful edge of fate

[Page 130]

I stand and stretch my view to either state;
Teach me to quit this transitory scene
With decent triumph and a look serene;
Teach me to fix my ardent hopes on high,
And having liv'd to thee, in thee to die.

[Page 131]

A Summer Evening's Meditation.

One sun by day, by night ten thousand shine.
YOUNG.

'TIS past! The sultry tyrant of the south
Has spent his short-lived rage; more grateful hours
Move silent on; the skies no more repel
The dazzled sight, but with mild maiden beams
Of temper'd light, invite the cherish'd eye
To wander o'er their sphere; where hung aloft
DIAN's bright crescent, like a silver bow
New strung in heaven, lifts high its beamy horns

[Page 132]

Impatient for the night, and seems to push
Her brother down the sky. Fair VENUS shines
E'en in the eye of the day; with sweetest beam
Propitious shines, and shakes a trembling flood
Of soften'd radiance from her dewy locks.
The shadows spread apace; while meeken'd Eve
Her cheek yet warm with blushes, slow retires
Thro' the Hesperian gardens of the west,
And shuts the gates of day. 'Tis now the hour
When Contemplation, from her sunless haunts,
The cool damp grotto, or the lonely depth
Of unpierc'd woods, where wrapt in solid shade
She mused away the gaudy hours of noon,
And fed on thoughts unripen'd by the sun,
Moves forward; and with radiant finger points
To yon blue concave swell'd by breath divine,
Where, one by one, the living eyes of heaven
Awake, quick kindling o'er the face of ether

[Page 133]

One boundless blaze; ten thousand trembling fires,
And dancing lustres, where th' unsteady eye,
Restless, and dazzled wanders unconfin'd
O'er all this field of glories: spacious field;
And worthy of the Master: he, whose hand
With hieroglyphics elder than the Nile,
Inscribed the mystic tablet; hung on high
To public gaze, and said, adore, O man!
The finger of thy GOD. From what pure wells
Of milky light, what soft o'erflowing urn,
Are all these lamps so fill'd? these friendly lamps,
For ever streaming o'er the azure deep
To point our path, and light us to our home.
How soft they slide along their lucid spheres!
And silent as the foot of time, fulfil
Their destin'd courses: Nature's self is hush'd,
And, but a scatter'd leaf, which rustles thro'
The thick-wove foliage, not a sound is heard

[Page 134]

To break the midnight air; tho' the rais'd ear,
Intensely listening, drinks in every breath.
How deep the silence yet how loud the praise!
But are they silent all? or is there not
A tongue in every star that talks with man,
And wooes him to be wise; nor wooes in vain:
This dead of midnight is the noon of thought,
And wisdom mounts her zenith with the stars.
At this still hour the self-collected soul
Turns inward, and beholds a stranger there
Of high descent, and more than mortal rank;
An embryo GOD; a spark of fire divine,
Which must burn on for ages, when the sun,
(Fair transitory creature of a day!)
Has clos'd his golden eye, and wrap'd in shades
Forgets his wonted journey thro' the east.

  Ye citadels of light, and seats of GODS!
Perhaps my future home, from whence the soul

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Revolving periods past, may oft look back
With recollected tenderness, on all
The various busy scenes she left below,
Its deep laid projects and its strange events,
As on some fond and doting tale that soothed
Her infant hours; O be it lawful now
To tread the hallow'd circle of your courts,
And with mute wonder and delighted awe
Approach your burning confines. Seiz'd in thought,
On fancy's wild and roving wing I sail,
From the green borders of the peopled earth,
And the pale moon, her duteous fair attendant;
From solitary Mars; from the vast orb
Of Jupiter, whose huge gigantic bulk
Dances in ether like the lightest leaf;
To the dim verge, the suburbs of the system,
Where cheerless Saturn 'midst his wat'ry moons
Girt with a lucid zone, in gloomy pomp,

[Page 136]

Sits like an exil'd monarch: fearless thence
I launch into the trackless deeps of space,
Where, burning round, ten thousand suns appear,
Of elder beam; which ask no leave to shine
Of our terrestrial star, nor borrow light
From the proud regent of our scanty day;
Sons of the morning, first-born of creation,
And only less than HIM who marks their track,
And guides their fiery wheels. Here must I stop,
Or is there aught beyond? What hand unseen
Impells me onward thro' the glowing orbs
Of habitable nature, far remote,
To the dread confines of eternal night,
To solitudes of vast unpeopled space,
The desarts of creation, wide and wild;
Where embryo systems and unkindled suns
Sleep in the tomb of chaos? fancy droops,

[Page 137]

And thought astonish'd stops her bold career.
But oh thou mighty mind! whose powerful word
Said, thus let all things be, and thus they were,
Where shall I seek thy presence? how unblam'd
Invoke thy dread perfection?
Have the broad eye-lids of the morn beheld thee?
Or does the beamy shoulder of Orion
Support thy throne? O look with pity down
On erring guilty man; not in thy names
Of terror clad; not with those thunders arm'd
That conscious Sinai felt, when fear appall'd
The scattered tribes; thou hast a gentler voice,
That whispers comfort to the swelling heart,
Abash'd, yet longing to behold her Maker.

  But now my soul unus'd to stretch her powers
In flight so daring, drops her weary wing,
And seeks again the known accustom'd spot,

[Page 138]

Drest up with sun, and shade, and lawns, and streams,
A mansion-fair and spacious for its guest,
And full replete with wonders. Let me here
Content and grateful, wait th' appointed time
And ripen for the skies: the hour will come
When all these splendours bursting on my sight
Shall stand unveil'd, and to my ravish'd sense
Unlock the glories of the world unknown.

THE END.

Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom

Provenance of the Text.

The copytext for this on-line edition is the third edition, corrected, of Barbauld's 1773 Poems. The proof copy belongs to the Rare Book Room of Hunt Library, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA. I regret that the age and fragility of the original book made it impossible to scan in either the title page or a sample page from this copy.

Page breaks have been indicated by placing the notation [Page xx] at the start of each numbered page. Where numbers did not appear on the original pages, line breaks have been included instead. Long s's which appear in the original text have been transcribed here as short s's, both for readability and due to limitations in the available html diacriticals. Where the original printing convention was to begin each line of a quote section of material with quotation marks, I have replaced these with quotations at the beginning and end of the quote (or, if the quote continues across several stanzas, at the beginning of each stanza in the quote, and at the end of the quote.)

Barbauld's text included several short footnotes, pointed to with *'s. Her footnotes have been reproduced on the pages where they originally appeared. In a few cases, additional notes have been added by the Celebration editor. These added notes are identifiable by their numbered hyperlinks, and by their grouping in a "Celebration Notes" section after the end of the poem to which they relate. They are set off in a grey font to further distinguish them from the original text.

Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom