To Friendship. In the Manner of Collins's Ode to Evening.

Juvenilia; or a Collection of Poems: Written between the Ages of Twelve and Sixteen. By J. H. L. Hunt, late of the Grammar School of Christ's Hospital.

Leigh Hunt

An allegorical ode after Collins's Ode to Evening. Hunt was probably thirteen or fourteen years old when he wrote this poem. As one might expect, his juvenile poetry is written in the popular literary modes of the time.

Leigh Hunt: "Lord Byron, when he afterward came to see me in prison, was pleased to regret that I had not staid. He told me, that the sight of my volume at Harrow had been one of his incentives to write verses, and that he had had the same passion for friendship which I had displayed in it. To my astonishment he quoted some of the lines, and would not hear me speak ill of them" Autobiography (1850) 2:195.

Thornton Hunt: "The earliest volume of his published writing, issued in 1802, was written before the French Revolution has yet shaken up and reinvigorated the sources of thought all over Europe; and, it may be added, before the author himself was shaken up and invigorated by personal intercourse with the world. His book was a heap of imitations, 'all but absolutely worthless,' except as an indication of the faculties which enabled the reader so completely to master the literary ideas of others, always a large part of youthful studies; and as a measure of the subsequent change worked out by his own independent mind. The writer of Juvenilia found himself famous in his eighteenth year" Correspondence of Leigh Hunt (1862) 1:3.

O thou, who winding thro' the wrinkles deep
Of giant Care, smooth'st out his rugged brow
As polish'd as thine own,
With wiles unknown before:

Or with thy lovely hand, lurking unseen,
Stamp'st a new dimple on his furrow'd cheek,
While his dark-boding eye
Starts into animation;

How sweet thy form, when, hanging o'er his head,
Thy gentle tear meets his; that, rushing down,
Melts on his icy breast,
Rich with thy glowing pearl!

Or when pale Melancholy, maid forlorn,
Mourns in soft plaint thro' yon deserted grove,
When Eve in bridals grey
Weds Twilight's sober form;

How sweetly hangs upon thy honey'd tongue
Persuasion, eloquent and mild, as oft
Thy soothing voice subdues
Her wo-worn soul to peace!

O lovely maid, if aught my humble lay
Avail to move thy gen'rous pitying breast,
Whose rugged numbers oft
Have hail'd thy genial reign;

By all the griefs that rent the vengeful breast
Of dread Achilles, when the Trojan arm
Stretch'd on the clanging earth
His bold, his patriot friend;

By all the fire that flash'd from Nisus' eye,
When the lov'd warrior lay convuls'd in death,
His tresses rudely tost
On his cold, pallid cheek;

O still, to light and life, affection warm,
And all the nameless blessings thou canst give,
Pure, innocent, and free,
The social youth preserve,

Who, in the cloister'd walks, where first I learnt
To feel thine influence mild, full oft has vow'd
To deck thy hallow'd shrine
With Summer's gayest stores!

Then, soul-endearing maid, each rising morn,
That paints with purple all the glowing sky,
Shall, to thy bosom waft,
On Meditation's wing,

Our heart-felt raptures, whether close conceal'd
By academic grove thou love to lay
In thick embow'ring shade,
Thy olive-wreathed head;

Or roving far by Thame's moss-mantled side,
Crown thy gay temples with the moisten'd sedge,
That decks its rural banks
With lively glowing green.

[Second edition; pp. 122-25]