Seven ballad quatrains. As critics have not failed to point out, Joseph Warton's Ode to Evening pales beside William Collins's effort on the same subject; both poems were reprinted in The Union (1753) edited by Thomas Warton. One would like to know which of the two odes was first composed; since both are in unusal measures it seems not unlikely that one was written in emulation of the other. It was Warton's ode and not Collins's, however, that was the first to appear in Knox's Elegant Extracts.
Samuel Egerton Brydges: "Warton has also an Ode to Evening, in which are some good stanzas" Censura Literaria 3 (1807) 197.
At one time, Collins and Warton were planning a joint publication, as appears in an undated letter to the poet's brother Thomas: "Collins met me in Surrey, at Guildford Races, when I wrote out for him my Odes, and he likewise communicated some of his to me: and being both in very high spirits we took courage, resolved to join our forces, and to publish them immediately. I flatter myself that I shall lose no honour by this publication, because I believe these Odes, as they now stand, are infinitely the best things I ever wrote" Correspondence of Thomas Warton, ed. Fairer (1995) 11.
Hail meek-ey'd maiden, clad in sober grey,
Whose soft approach the weary woodman loves,
As homeward bent to kiss his prattling babes,
He jocund whistles thro' the twilight groves.
When PHOEBUS sinks behind the gilded hills,
You lightly o'er the misty meadows walk,
The drooping daisies bathe in dulcet dews,
And nurse the nodding violet's slender stalk:
The panting Dryads, that in day's fierce heat
To inmost bowers and cooling caverns ran,
Return to trip in wanton evening-dance,
Old SYLVAN too returns, and laughing PAN.
To the deep wood the clamorous rooks repair,
Light skims the swallow o'er the wat'ry scene,
And from the sheep-cotes, and fresh-furrow'd field,
Stout plowmen meet to wrestle on the green.
The swain that artless sings on yonder rock,
His nibbling sheep and lengthening shadow spies,
Pleas'd with the cool, the calm, refreshful hour,
And with hoarse hummings of unnumber'd flies.
Now every passion sleeps; desponding Love,
And pining Envy, ever-restless Pride;
An holy calm creeps o'er my peaceful soul,
Anger and mad Ambition's storms subside.
O modest EVENING, oft' let me appear
A wandering votary in thy pensive train,
List'ning to every wildly-warbling throat
That fills with farewell notes the dark'ning plain.