1760 ca.
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Hymn to the Rising Sun.

The Poetical Works of John Langhorne. In Two Volumes. [J. T. Langhorne, ed.]

Rev. John Langhorne


John Langhorne's octosyllabic ode is written in the manner Milton's companion poems; on this theme one might compare William Blake's To Spring, in Poetical Sketches (1783). The Hymn to the Rising Sun may have first appeared in Langhorne's Poems (1804). John Langhorne wrote several poems in this vein; Raymond Dexter Havens's bibliography of Milton imitations mentions also "Hymeneal," "Inscription in a sequestered grotto," "Inscription to a temple of society" and "'Tis o'er, the pleasing prospect's o'er" Imitations of Milton (1922) 672-75. Not seen.

George Saintsbury: "Langhorne at least sometimes has a melancholy clangour of verse too rare in his century" Short History of English Literature (1898) 587.

Myra Reynolds: "Langhorne's perception of the power of Nature over man, and his passionate sense of personal indebtedness to Nature are the keynotes of his work. In a narrow way and with feeble speech he shows a mental and spiritual experience of the same type as that which Wordsworth records of his own youth. His motive in writing, 'an unaffected wish to promote the love of Nature and the interests of humanity,' is likewise Wordsworthian" The Treatment of Nature in English Poetry (1909) 150-51.



From the red wave rising bright,
Lift on high thy golden head;
O'er the misty mountains, spread
Thy smiling rays of orient light!
See the golden god appear;
Flies the fiend of darkness drear;
Flies, and in her gloomy train,
Sable Grief, and Care, and Pain!
See the golden god advance!
On Taurus' heights his coursers prance:
With him haste the vernal hours,
Breathing sweets, and drooping flowers.
Laughing Summer at his side,
Waves her locks in rosy pride;
And Autumn bland with aspect kind.
Bears his golden sheaf behind.
O haste, and spread the purple day
O'er all the wide ethereal way!
Nature mourns at thy delay:
God of glory, haste away!
From the red weave rising bright,
Lift on high thy golden head;
O'er the misty mountains, spread
Thy smiling rays of orient light!

[Poetical Works (1804) 2:167]