1778
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Ode to Peace.

Weekly Magazine or Edinburgh Amusement 41 (26 August 1778) 207.

M.


An allegorical ode in ten short-lined Spenserians, signed "M—, 19th August, 1778." The model is Thomas Gray's Hymn to Adversity, though the poet also takes phrases from William Collins's Odes. The occasion would seem to be the American conflict, though the reference is oblique. This poet had been a contributor to the Weekly Magazine for almost a decade.



From fields of light above the skies,
Where soft the gentle breezes blow;
And songs of grateful triumph rise,
And endless tides of rapture flow:
From regions of eternal day,
Descend, sweet nymph! and tune the lay;
With thy mild voice each tender passion move,
And wake the languid soul to harmony and love.

Come, with the graces in thy train,
In robes of mild refulgence drest;
Resume thy long-forgotten reign,
And soothe my weary mind to rest;
Press'd by the hand of anxious care,
To thee I raise the ardent pray'r;
On thee with soft complaining voice I call,
When heavy on my heart afflictive sources fall.

Oft have I in the ev'ning hour,
When silence listen'd to thy trade,
And nature own'd thy magic pow'r
Thro' the deep forest's thick'ning shade;
By fancy's mazy steps beguil'd,
Oft have I sought thee wand'ring wild,
In upland lawn, or through the woody scene,
Where melancholy holds her sweet, but awful reign.

Or, all along yon winding stream,
That murm'ring thro' the waving reeds,
Reflects pale Cynthia's silver gleam
Soft glittering o'er the dewy meads;
Restless the devious path I've trod
That lonely leads to thine abode,
To catch the whispers of thy falling voice,
That lift the raptur'd mind to high celestial joys.

But sought in vain — still o'er my soul,
By tragic fear, by sorrow torn,
The billows of distraction roll,
And leave me wretched and forlorn:
In vain — while anguish wounds the heart,
And shakes pale doubt her trembling dart,
In vain to thee I turn my eager eye,
And from destructive wars ensanguin'd horrors fly.

But see! wide spreading to the view
The awful blast, the gathering storm,
In sable robes of wint'ry hue,
All nature's peaceful scenes deform!
The tempest hides the face of day,
And vivid gleams of light'ning play;
While all around dark clouds of sorrow rise,
That sweep the desart vast, and rend the troubled skies.

Ah! why this elemental strife,
This wav'ring scene of inward woe,
That glooms the various scenes of life,
And sinks my falling spirits low?
Shall erring passions vex the mind,
For endless scenes of joy design'd?
Shall guilt and wild despair in horror frown,
Blast ev'ry tender hope, and pour their vengeance down?

Yet oft attention to the cry,
The weary cry of deep distress,
The goddess of the gentle eye
With smiling hope descends to bless:
Array'd in ev'ry winning charm,
Calms with her word the angry storm;
Stills the rough surges, and the whirlwind's roar,
And bids the raging tempest idly vex no more.

Come to my breast, angelic power!
Be thou my guardian and my friend;
O kindly chear each lonely hour
And all my wand'ring steps attend!
And when afflictions raise the sigh
Still be thy healing comforts nigh;
Still may thy hand my feeble steps renew,
Thro' life's perplexing road my journey to pursue.

And when to shut this peaceful scene
Kind death shall other worlds disclose,
In mild composure smile serene,
And gently waft to calm repose:
Thro' all the horrors of the tomb,
Bear me, a stranger, to thy home;
To fields of light my wand'ring soul convey,
Where bloom thy perfect joys and shines eternal day.

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