1790 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Hamilton Reid

J. P., "To William Hamilton Reid" General Evening Post (14 January 1790).



Oft to the silv'ry moon and sable night
Have I address'd my youthful pensive song;
Oft in the ev'ning's shade and morning's light
I musing stray the gloomy groves among.

Oft, where the ivy clasps the aged wall,
And marks the place for ruin's mould'ring seat;
Where from the rocks the bubbling crystals fall,
There do I find sweet solitude's retreat.

Oft by the winding Tee's peaceful side,
Behold the beauties of the blushing morn;
Watch the slow progress of the sleeping tide,
Or count the dew-drops on a branch of thorn.

Yet oft I wander thoughtless of those scenes,
Of nature's glowing beauties as they rise,
Tho' in my heart each tender feeling reigns,
That heaves the bosom with a thousand sighs.

And oft my feeble Muse employs the hour,
That vacant there I haply stray alone;
Or at soft numbers feel the sovereign pow'r,
The melting numbers, pensive bard, thy own.

Sweet are thy strains, and smooth they glide along,
Calm as the pleasures they describe and paint,
And sweet the flowing of thy easy song,
As at the midnight Philomela's plaint.

In nature's softest mould sure thou wast made,
From nature hast receiv'd a feeling mind;
A mind that loves each solitary shade,
And leaves the bustle of the world behind.

Thy gentlest thoughts in gentlest accents fall,
As to the leaves the honey dew of morn
They're to the soul; nor do they ever pall
The taste, for heav'nly contemplation born.

But yet each high-born rapture is thy own,
That fills the breast with ev'ry noble fire;
By feeling guided is thy Muse alone,
And nature only does thy song inspire.

Thy tender lays have shewn 'tis feeling all;
Perhaps 'tis love that gives a share of pain,
Or grief exerts her woe-fraught sad'ning call,
And most inclines that sweetly-melting strain.

But if that thou no love unblest hath known,
But in it's guise an airy soul conceals;
Excuse these lines, effusions of my own,
Thy numbers have deceiv'd a heart that feels.

Still to thy genius greater praise is due,
That thus in fancy paints the varied scene;
Describes each feeling delicate as true,
We think 'tis real where'er thy pen has been.
Yarm, Dec. 31 1789.