1747
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Ode VIII. The Happy Life. [To Content.]

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

Rev. Joseph Warton


A retirement ode in seven blank-verse quatrains. In the second edition of Joseph Warton's Odes, The Happy Life was substituted for brother Thomas's The Fountain in the first edition, published only a month earlier. It was several times reprinted before being collected in John Wooll's Memoirs of Joseph Warton under the title of Ode to Content.

Samuel Egerton Brydges: "The Ode to Content, (not in the first edition) in the same metre as Collins's Ode to Evening, has great merit: but here again we are unfortunately too strongly reminded, of its exquisite rival. Warton has also an Ode to Evening, in which are some good stanzas. The Dying Indian; and more particularly The Revenge of America, are, very fine; but the latter is too short for such a subject, and ends too abruptly" Censura Literaria 3 (1807) 198.



Welcome CONTENT! from roofs of fretted gold,
From Persian sofa's, and the gems of Ind,
From courts, and camps, and crouds,
Fled to my cottage mean!

Meek Virgin, wilt thou deign with me to sit
In pensive pleasure by my glimmering fire,
And with calm smile despise
The loud world's distant din;

As from the piny mountain's topmost cliff,
Some wandering hermit sage hears unconcern'd,
Far in the vale below
The thund'ring torrent burst!

Teach me, good heaven, the gilded chains of vice
To break, to study independent ease,
Pride, pomp, and power to shun,
Those fatal Sirens fair,

That, rob'd like Eastern queens, sit on high thrones,
And beckoning every thirsty traveller,
Their baleful cups present
With pleasing poisons fraught.

O let me dwell in life's low valley, blest
With the dear Nymph I love, true, heart-felt joy,
With chosen friends to turn
The polish'd Attic page;

Nor seldom, if nor Fortune damp my wings,
Nor dire Disease, to soar to PINDUS' hill,
My hours, my soul devote,
To Poesy and Love!

[pp. 32-33]