1753
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

A Hymn to Contentment, in imitation of Gray's Hymn to Adversity.

London Magazine 22 (October 1753) 478.

Anonymous


A line-by-line paraphrase of Thomas Gray's Hymn to Adversity "by a youth not yet nineteen." Gray's poem had appeared in the London Magazine in July. This imitation, the earliest of many imitations of Gray's poem, was reprinted in both the Scots Magazine and the Newcastle General Magazine.



Contentment! sweet propitious pow'r,
Thou soft'ner of the human woe,
Dear partner of the adverse hour,
Whom Happiness is bound to know;
Charm'd by thy soft persuasive tongue,
The tortur'd soul takes comfort long,
And Poverty is taught to find
New treasures hid before, to sooth her suff'ring mind.

When infant Virtue first, from heav'n,
Jove to Adversity consign'd,
Thou, as a constant mate, wast giv'n,
And bade to ease her burden'd mind.
Soft pleasing friend! thy sweet'ning care
Taught her the rigid scourge to bear;
In thee a partner of her grief she found,
Whence healing comfort flow'd, like balm to ev'ry wound.

From thy sweet smiles, abash'd retire
Self tort'ring Envy, and Despair,
Fierce Hopes, and covetous Desire,
And leave us calm 'midst crouds of care.
Quick they depart, and with them fly
False Pleasure, and deluding Joy;
By wild Ambition cherish'd still,
And seem a while obedient to her tow'ring will.

Patience slow moving, and sedate,
With piercing eye that views from far,
And Hope, with future joys elate,
That gently drives her steady carr,
In all thy labours acquiesce:
Humility, that Christian grace,
Still conscious of her own defects,
And Faith, believing maid, whom Charity protects.

Fair goddess, with benignant smiles,
Thy modest votary assist;
If Virtue recompense my toils,
'Tis impious dulness to desist.
For me thy kindest beams prepare,
That I each harmless joy may share,
And able wisely to discern,
View providential care in every changing turn.

Bright power! retrieve my sinking breast,
Descend, and dwell sole regent there;
Far hence be anxious Thought distrest,
Green Jealousy, and mute Despair;
Teach me, with comfort, to enjoy
Life's competent benignity,
Not pamper'd with luxurious ease
To covet more and more, but thank kind heav'n for these.

[p. 478]