1746
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Ode IX. To the Nightingale.

Odes on Various Subjects. By Joseph Warton, B.A. of Oriel College, Oxon.

Rev. Joseph Warton


A Miltonic pastoral lyric in four couplet stanzas. Perhaps the notable thing about this Ode to the Nightingale is the naturalization of the bird: in place of the Ovidian tale of Philomela, Joseph Warton imagines a nightingale entrapped by a fowler and "some barbarous virgin's captive made."

Henry Augustus Beers: "The odes of Warton which most nearly resemble Milton are 'To Fancy,' 'To Solitude,' and 'To the Nightingale,' all in the eight-syllabled couplet" Romanticism in the Eighteenth Century (1899) 156.

Ode VIII, "To A Fountain," was written by the younger Thomas Warton and later appeared with his collected poems; in the second edition (1747) Joseph Warton substituted his own "The Happy Life," sometimes referred to as "Ode to Content."



O thou, that to the moon-light vale
Warblest oft thy plaintive tale,
What time the village-murmurs cease,
And the still eye is hush'd to peace,
When now no busy sound is heard,
CONTEMPLATION's favourite bird!

Chauntress of night, whose amorous song
First heard the tufted groves among,
Warns wanton MABBA to begin
Her revels on the circled green,
Whene'er by MEDITATION led
I nightly seek some distant mead,

A short repose of cares to find,
And sooth my love-distracted mind,
O fail not then, sweet PHILOMEL,
Thy sadly-warbled woes to tell;
In sympathetic numbers join
Thy pangs of luckless love with mine!

So may no swain's rude hand infest
Thy tender young, and rob thy nest;
Nor ruthless fowler's guileful snare
Lure thee to leave the fields of air,
No more to visit vale or shade,
Some barbarous virgin's captive made.

[pp. 34-35]