1790 ca. ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Helen Maria Williams

George Hardinge, "To Miss Williams; addressed by her grateful Admirer and Friend, whose Opinion she consulted upon her Ode To Poesy" 1790 ca.; Hardinge, Miscellaneous Works (1818) 2:98-99.



The Nymph whom these enchanting strains address
Her lov'd companion's voice enraptur'd hears—
The Nymph whose charms the field of Nature dress,
And whose wild beauty is of other years.

From Conway's flood, or hallow'd Shakespeare's tomb,
Or Ludlow's towers, that inspiration breathe,
She comes — to animate thy Winter's gloom,
And grace thy temples with her brightest wreath.

Sweet is thy Muse, though plaintive is her tone,
Since Love his myrtle to the cypress turn'd;
But Melody has made the tear her own,
And heaven-born Genius in the Song has mourn'd.

Alas! that Fortune, with her fingers rude,
Should pluck thy leaf before the mellowing day,
Though purest Faith, by suffering unsubdued,
Hath wrapt thy sorrows in her glowing ray.

Though every moral tie and social charm
With graceful zeal thy heart and life adorn;—
Though tears are thine, which Prudence can disarm,
When others tell thee of the piercing thorn:

But happier omens in her vision bright
The Muse for thee discerning shall proclaim;
There views thee firm upon the mountain's height,
Thy laurels there entwin'd in England's fame.

No more the selfish heart shall wound thy peace,
With cold neglect, or Envy's biting sneer:—
Nor shall the "alter'd eye" of proud Caprice
Insult the meek expostulating tear.

The wise and good shall consecrate thy lay;
The generous heart shall bleed for thy distress;
Expand thy virtues to the cheering day,
Mature thy talents, and thy feelings bless.