1762
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Ode to Evening.

Poems on Several Subjects. To which is prefix'd, an Essay on the Lyric Poetry of the Ancients; in Two Letters inscribed to the Right Honourable James Lord Deskfoord. By John Ogilvie, A.M.

Rev. John Ogilvie


A close imitation of Milton's Il Penseroso, with several echoes of William Collins and the Wartons: "Come, Nymph demure, with mantle blue, | Thy tresses bath'd in balmy dew, | With step smooth sliding o'er the green, | The Graces breathing in thy mien."

Critical Review: "There are many striking sentiments, and ingenious imitations in the ode to Sleep; but we particularly admire the next ode to Evening, for the novelty of the objects presented to the imagination, the richness of the painting, and the variety of the colouring" 14 (October 1762) 301.

Samuel Austin Allibone: "John Ogilvie, d.D., 1733-1814, minister of Midmar, Aberdeenshire, from 1769 until his death, published The Day of Judgment, 1758; a number of other poems; and some philosophical and theological treatises. A collection of his Poems on Several Subjects was published, Lon., 1769, 2 vols, 8vo. Johnson and Churchill did not admire his poetry; but Boswell did" Critical Dictionary of English Literature (1858-71; 1882) 2:1450.



Meek Power! whose balmy-pinion'd gale
Steals o'er the flower-enamell'd dale;
Whose voice in gentle whispers near
Oft' sighs to Quiet's listening ear;
As on her downy couch at rest,
By Thought's inspiring visions blest
She sits, with white-robed Silence nigh,
And musing heaves her serious eye,
To mark the slow sun's glimmering ray,
To catch the last pale gleam of day;
Or sunk in sweet repose, unknown
Lies on the wild hill's van alone;
And sees thy gradual pencil flow
Along the heav'n-illumined bow.

Come, Nymph demure, with mantle blue,
Thy tresses bath'd in balmy dew,
With step smooth sliding o'er the green,
The Graces breathing in thy mien;
And thy vesture's gather'd fold
Girt with a zone of circling gold;
And bring the harp, whose solemn string
Dies to the wild wind's murmuring wing;
And the Nymph, whose eye serene
Marks the calm, breathing woodland scene;
Thought, mountain-sage! who loves to climb,
And haunts the dark rock's summit dim;
Let Fancy falcon-wing'd be near:
And through the cloud-enveloped sphere,
Where musing roams Retirement hoar,
Lull'd by the torrent's distant roar;
O bid with trembling light to glow
The raven-plume that crowns his brow.

Lo, where thy meek-ey'd train attend!
Queen of the solemn thought descend!
O hide me in romantic bowers!
Or lead my step to ruin'd towers!
Where gleaming thro' the chinky door
The pale ray gilds the moulder'd floor:
While beneath the hallowed pile
Deep in the desert shrieking ile
Rapt Contemplation stalks along,
And hears the slow clock's pealing tongue;
Or mid' the dun discoloured gloom,
Sits on some Heroe's peaceful tomb,
Throws Life's gay glittering robe aside,
And tramples on the neck of Pride.

Oft shelter'd by the rambling sprays,
Lead o'er the forest's winding maze;
Where through the mantling boughs, afar
Glimmers the silver-streaming star;
And, shower'd from every rustling blade
The loose light floats along the shade:
So hovering o'er the human scene
Gay Pleasure sports with brow serene;
By Fancy beam'd, the glancing ray
Shoots, flutters, gleams, and fleets away:
Unsettled, dubious, restless, blind,
Floats all the busy bustling mind;
While Memory's unstain'd leaves retain
No trace from all th' ideal train.

But see the landskip opening fair
Invites to breathe the purer air!
O when the cowslip-scented gale
Shakes the light dew-drop o'er the dale,
When on her amber-dropping bed
Loose Ease reclines her downy head;
How blest! by fairy-haunted stream
To melt in wild ecstatic dream!
Die to the pictured wish, or hear
(Breathed soft on Fancy's trembling ear)
Such lays, by angel-harps refined,
As half unchain the fluttering mind,
When on Life's edge it eyes the shore,
And all its pinions stretch to soar.

Lo, where the sun's broad orb withdrawn
Skirts with pale gold the dusky lawn!
While led by every gentler power,
Steals the slow, solemn, musing hour.
Now from the green hill's purple brow
Let me mark the scene below;
Where feebly-glancing thro' the gloom
Yon myrtle shades the silent tomb:
Not far, beneath the evening beam
The dark Lake rolls his azure stream,
Whose breast the swan's white plumes divide,
Slow-sailing o'er the floating tide.
Groves, meads, and spires, and forests bare
Shoot glimmering thro' the misty air;
Dim as the vision-pictured bower
That gilds the saint's expiring hour,
When rapt to ecstacy, his eye
Looks thro' the blue etherial sky.
All heav'n unfolding to his sight!
Gay forms that swim in floods of light!
The sun-pav'd floor, the balmy clime,
The ruby-beaming dome sublime,
The towers in glittering pomp display'd
The bright scene hovers o'er his bed.
He starts: — but from his eager gaze
Black clouds obscure the less'ning rays;
On Memory still the scene is wrought,
And lives in Fancy's featur'd thought.

On the airy mount reclin'd
What wishes soothe the musing mind!
How soft the velvet lap of Spring!
How sweet the Zephir's violet wing!
Goddess of the plaintive song,
That leads the melting heart along;
O bid thy voice of genial power
Reach Contemplation's lonely bower;
And call the Sage with tranced sight
To climb the mountain's steepy height;
To wing the kindling wish, or spread
O'er Thought's pale cheek enlivening red;
Come hoary Power with serious eye,
Whose thought explores yon distant sky;
Now when the busy world is still,
Nor Passion tempts the wavering will,
When sweeter hopes each power controul,
And Quiet whispers to the soul,
Now sweep from Life th' illusive train
That dance in Folly's dizzy brain:
Be Reason's simple draught pourtrayed,
Where blends alternate light and shade;
Bid dimpled Mirth, with thought belied,
Sport on the bubble's glittering side;
Bid Hope pursue the distant boon,
And Frenzy watch the fading moon;
Paint Superstition's starting eye,
And Wit that leers with gesture fly,
Let Censure whet her venomed dart,
And green-eyed Envy gnaw the heart;
Let Pleasure lie on flowers reclined,
While Anguish aims her shaft behind.

Hail, Sire sublime, whose hallow'd cave
Howls to the hoarse deep's dashing wave;
Thee Solitude to Phoebus bore,
Far on the lone deserted shore,
Where Orellano's rushing tide
Roars on the rock's projected side.
Hence bursting o'er thy ripened mind,
Beams all the Father's thought refined:
Hence oft in silent vales unseen,
Thy footsteps prints the fairy green;
Or thy soul melts to strains of woe,
That from the willow's quivering bough
Sweet warbling breathe; — the Zephirs round
O'er Dee's smooth current waft the sound,
When soft on bending osiers laid
The broad sun trembling thro' the bed;
All-wild thy heav'n-rapt Fancy strays,
Led thro' the soul-dissolving maze,
Till Slumber downy-pinioned, near
Plants her strong fetlocks on thy ear;
The soul unfetter'd bursts away,
And basks enlarged in beamy day.

[pp. 29-35]