1746
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Ode XIV. To Solitude.

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

Rev. Joseph Warton


A brief descriptive ode in octosyllabic couplets, after Milton's Il Penseroso. Milton was a great favorite of the Wartons, who as imitators, editors, and instructors did much to popularize his long-neglected juvenilia.

William Lyon Phelps: "The Ode to Solitude fitly closes this remarkable collection of poetry. This ode is strictly romantic in tone, and with the other thirteen stands as one of the finger-posts of the whole Romantic movement" Beginnings of the English Romantic Movement (1893) 92.

Amy Louise Reed: "Solitude is represented as an allegorical figure, dressed in black, and crowned with a cypress. She walks at midnight by the pale moon's light, listening to the crowing cock, or the owl, or howling mastiff, or the distant-sounding clock. The poet leaves the city to dwell calmly with her" The Background of Gray's Elegy (1924) 184.

Eric Partridge: "To Solitude (which should be compared with Thomson's Hymn to Solitude and Grainger's Ode to Solitude), short though it be, has much of Romanticism" Eighteenth-Century English Romantic Poetry (1924) 82-83.

Joseph Warton to his brother concerning a visit with Joseph Spence: "I have renewed my Acquaintance with Mr. Spense, who is the most charming fellow in the World, he read to me two of his Dialogues [of Polymetis] in MS. He is pleas'd to be very fond of my Ode to Solitude; I shewed all of them to him, and he strongly advised me not to publish this Season" 18 March 1746; in Correspondence of Thomas Warton, ed. Fairer (1995) 10.



Thou, that at deep dead of night
Walk'st forth beneath the pale moon's light,
In robe of flowing black array'd,
While cypress-leaves thy brows o'ershade;
List'ning to the crowing cock,
And the distant-sounding clock;
Or sitting in thy cavern low,
Do'st hear the bleak winds loudly blow,
Or the hoarse death-boding owl,
Or village maistiff's wakeful howl,
While through thy melancholy room
A dim lamp casts an awful gloom;
Thou, that on the meadow green,
Or daisy'd upland art not seen,
But wand'ring by the dusky nooks,
And the pensive-falling brooks,
Or near some rugged, herbless rock,
Where no shepherd keeps his flock!
Musing maid, to thee I come,
Hating the tradeful city's hum;
O let me calmly dwell with thee,
From noisy mirth and bus'ness free,
With meditation seek the skies,
This folly-fetter'd world despise!

[pp. 46-47]