1791 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Mary Robinson

Samuel Jackson Pratt, "On Reading Mrs. Robinson's Ode to the Nightingale" Gazetteer and New Daily Advertiser (10 December 1791).



Oh, if thy pensive Muse can tell
The story of her woes so well;
If thus the anguish of thy lyre
Can more than mirth's gay notes inspire;
If more of gentle pleasure lies
In the soft magic of thy sighs;
If, as thy plaintive tale we hear,
More wisdom flows with ev'ry tear,
Than ever joy's extatic pow'r
To folly brought in rapture's hour:
If thus thy tuneful griefs impart
A charm that melts, and mends the heart;
And if, as sound the trembling strings,
Thy Philomel more sings
In Laura's verse, than in the grove,
Ev'n on the night she lost her love;—
Ah, who can wish that bird, or thee,
From such sweet sorrow wholly free?
Or who, that heard you once complain,
But listens for the sounds again?

Yet who, that sees that gentle breast
In life's fair prime depriv'd of rest;
That hears thee tell, in truth-taught lays,
"How full of grief have been thy days;"
But would that magic verse forego,
Could silence ease thy weight of woe?

Yet to the Muse since pow'rs belong,
For such the force of sacred song,
To calm Misfortune's troubled mein,
And give the "patient smile serene;
"Till by its blest and cheering ray,
The clouds of sorrow fade away:"
O may the Nightingale and thee
Still share our tender SYMPATHY,
Which join'd to thy responsive strain,
May steal from both "THE THORN OF PAIN!"