1785 ca. ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Collins

Susanna Blamire, "On Collins's Ode on the Passions, as recited by Mrs. Esten" 1785 ca.; in Blamire, Poetical Works (1842) 125-27.



Beneath a sad and silent shade
Afflicted Poetry was laid;
The shepherd train, the virgin choir,
No longer listen'd to her lyre;
But, all neglected and alone,
Her feeling and her fire were gone.
No zephyr fondly sued her breast,
No nightingale came there to rest;
The faded visions fled her eyes—
The visions of her ecstasies.
And if perchance she sought delight,
It was amid the gloom of night,—
It was the hour the screechowls cry,
Or roaring whirlwinds rend the sky,
To pour her melancholy strain,
And catch a pleasure from the pain.

Esten beheld her haggard air
At twilight as she wander'd there,
And felt the sympathetic woe
That Taste and Feeling ever know;
Then eager sought the city's throng
To vindicate the force of song.
She chose an ode divinely wild,
Wrote by the Muses' favourite child;
From Collins was the magic lay,
That subject Passions all obey:
The crowd the varying influence prove
Of Rage, and Hope, and Fear, and Love;
They still implor'd her to rehearse,
And own'd the thrilling power of verse!

O thou, sweet Bard! who now mayst be
A shadow fleeting o'er the sea,
A vapour on the morning rose,
A whispering wind at evening's close;
Or if thy spirit love to dwell
Awhile within the violet's bell,
Then, in beatitude of change,
From star to star exulting range;
Live in the lustre of the day,
Or float upon the lunar ray;
Or rapturous join the hallow'd voice
Where endless Seraphim rejoice;
O Collins! whatsoe'er thou art,
Deign, deign to bless thy Esten's heart;
A portion of those joys reveal
Which sure she well deserves to feel!