1776
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

To Hope.

Poetical Amusements at a Villa near Bath. 2 Vols [Lady Anne Miller, ed.]

Anonymous


Four stanzas in the "easy" Spenserian pattern (ababcdcdD) in octosyllabic lines with a pentameter used in place of the usual alexandrine. The invocation to the goddess and concluding resolve imitate Milton's companion poems, a source which here appears to be deliberately made over into a more Spenserian design. It seems likely that many or most of the 96 anonymous poems in the four volumes of Poetical Amusements were written by women.

John Langhorne: "These are not graceless poets, however; for they have heard our voice and laid their Bouts Rimees 'under a general prohibition.' O that the god of Poetry would send them grace!" Monthly Review 54 (March 1776) 241.

Raymond Dexter Havens: Poetical Amusements is "filled with octosyllabics and personified abstractions, with 'avaunt's' and 'come's' and other bits of the Allegro-Penseroso recipe for producing a poem on short notice on any subject" The Influence of Milton (1922) 477.

Ruth Avaline Hesselgrave: "A mediocre institution may be of importance, not for its accomplishments, but for its influence. The Batheaston poetical society cannot claim even that distinction. No followers arose to carry on the traditions founded by Lady Miller. The wonder is that she maintained her coterie as long as she did. Today it is interesting only as a manifestation of the literary aspirations of society toward the end of the eighteenth century" Lady Miller and the Batheaston Literary Circle (1927) 85.



What dreary prospects meets the eye,
How dismal howls the western wind,
What storms deface the azure sky,
And ah! what terrors seize the mind.
Say, to illume this gloomy scene,
Will no kind power its aid impart?
Yes, Hope, she comes sweet soothing queen:
See through the shades her radiance dart,
And pours a balsam on the drooping heart.

She in smiling future shows
Vernal meads and valleys gay,
Where the modest violet blows,
And laughing Nature gives the May,
And Summer's blythsome dewy eve,
When careless to the grove we stray,
Where jas'mines, woodbines, interweave,
While Eglantine syringas gay,
And fragrance-breathing roses strew the way.

Sweet Hope, whose magic o'er the soul,
Alike the king and peasant find,
All join to bless thy soft controul,
Thou first best friend of human kind;
Chas'd by thy smiles flies Care and Pain,
And pining Love and black Despair,
The rosy cherubs of thy train
Are Pleasure, Joy, and Fancy fair,
And jocund Mirth, sweet antidote to Care.

I woo the goddess to my heart,
Oh deign to be a constant guest,
Thy gentle soothing smiles impart,
Throw by the light fantastic dress,
Thy glowing tints shall paint each scene
That on life's toilsome stage appears,
Thy magic glass shall intervene,
And shield me from low thoughted cares,
Till all my days, my hours, thy livery wears.

[2:79-81]