After Milton's Lycidas: complaining of the poverty and neglect accorded poets, William Windle Carr raises the sentimental wail in verse "Unpolish'd, homely, made with shepherd's rule" p. 36. The considerable length of The Muse is extended by an inset Pindaric ode at the conclusion. While William Shenstone's letters, published in 1773, contain frequent complaints about poverty, the master of the Leasowes hardly suffered the dire ills described here. Carr's bitter remarks about luxury and the fate of the poor derive from Goldsmith's The Deserted Village, as also the overwrought sentiment. Homer, John Milton, and Thomas Chatterton are held up as exhibits. "Musaeus" is William Mason; "he the epic hoof that trac'd" is William Hayley, who published his Essay on Heroic Poetry published in 1782. That reference confirms that The Muse was written when William Windle Carr (b. 1735) was some fifty years old. The engraving prefacing the volume was taken from a painting by the poet.
Preface: "It has been always the popular and prevailing opinion, which is but too sadly confirmed from unquestionable testimony in every age and climate, that Poverty is the portion of the Muses, and that almost every man of Genius, from whatever fatality it may proceed, is allied to that disgraceful Goddess and her sister Contempt; the anxiety the Poet must feel from his union with such an unfavourable Deity, every contemplative mind will easily apprehend; and he, to whom the following Poem is thus inscrib'd, whose taste may have invited such an ungrateful triumph, is a peculiar and recent instance of this frequent and melancholy connection."
Ralph Griffiths: "He has certainly some pretensions to their regard, which every one who aspires to the honours of Parnassus cannot fairly urge; particularly in his warm attachment to morality, virtue, and piety: which, in the opinion of the wise and good, will amply compensate for any little defects that may attract the critic's notice, in point of poetical decoration. Yet, having allowed this, we must, in due respect to impartiality, remark, that we think Mr. Carr's poems to have more of the glitter of art, than of the steady glow of genius; that he possesses more of fancy than of vigour; and that frequently his numbers rise no higher than to that mediocrity which marked the poetical writings of a Pomfret, a Fenton, or a Walsh, whose writings, however, have had many admirers; especially those of the very popular Mr. Pomfret, whose little volume has gone through an astonishing number of editions — beyond what even the works of Dryden or Pope can boast.... The poems contained in this volume, (which is very elegantly printed,) consist chiefly of Odes, Elegies, Epistles, a Monody to the Memory of Shenstone, &c. &c." Monthly Review NS 7 (April 1792) 449-51.
THE GARDENS OF SHENSTONE.
From those dull regions of terrestrial day,
Where Envy blasts the shades that meet,
To hide the Bard's distracted seat,
And Famine grasps the fruit his thorns delay,
To climes, where his victorious flame shall wear
The tribute, due to its distinguish'd praise,
And crown'd with gold the bays,
Go strains, aloft repair,
And drain from mellower eyes the tear,
To sorrows call'd, which now your flood inspire,
With loose discordant flow and deep despair,
Of lamentable song, the sad attire!
Ah sad! of pang severe!
Cold stagnant Poverty with scepter'd sway,
Checks the proud course of each impetuous lyre:
Indignant numbers hence, the liquid wire,
I swept, and strain'd its piercing air,
To the hoarse clarion's height with vengeful ire:
Go, haste, your azure way
Ascend, my plaintive tale and bear;
Leave, Muse, this torturing sphere,
To yon far distant loftier worlds retire,
In other worlds resume thy conquering lay,
Why waste on earth-born ears celestial fire?
There from each mine that opes its anxious store,
And bids thy gems these transient sparks disdain,
Rich with that nobler ore, transient sparks disdain,
Rich with that nobler ore, transcendent, pure,
For thee immortal, stampt, thy lyre shall gain
The vast, ethereal weight, superior dow'r!
There Avarice shall no wealth restrain,
Nor stint with niggard hand the liberal show'r.
Deep in a vale with lonely step recluse,
Plung'd from yon western hills in solemn shade,
That climb with blue ascent the Cambrian sky,
The pride and haunt of that fair shepherd muse,
That join'd with simple stop the pastoral reed
Of Faunus and the Nymphs, in rustic chace,
Warbling to every rock and fountain nigh,
His soft and favourite air, I took my lyre,
And thus with loud complaint began rebuke
Of its improsperous gift; my just reproof,
Accordant hills proclaim'd; the notes I struck,
Rung with rebellowing chime; the woodland roof
Remurmur'd to my song, "Ah luckless race!
Adventurous, rash design! Ah fond desire
Of mortals vain to tempt thus blind the fate
Of headlong verse! Forego the flattering cheat,
The idle strain, Ah strains restor'd on high!
Delusive charm! unable to controul,
Or melt with mellow touch the purse-bound soul,
Deaf to thy vacant noise! Ah shallow rule
Of simple lyre, ill fated to destroy!
Ah! false and fairy joy!"
And every woeful son that drank the stream
Of Helicon, and its harmonious choir,
Responsive heard, "Ah fruitless theme
Ah! false and fairy dream!"
Besides each grot, which soon in tears I leave,
And near each dell, and lake, and dark retreat,
Each hermit trodden path, and desert seat,
Each stream the Naiads lov'd, to watery doom,
Now sunk, deceitful maids! Ah perjur'd stream!
Unperjur'd muse! within whose dreary wave
Sad laurels droop, and with instinctive gloom,
Hang their despairing heads, enrag'd I stray,
And trace with angry stride his steps I moan;
Ah stream! that must for ever harsh convey,
To every weeping primrose of the vale,
His mournful fate my sorrowing lines bewail!
For since the youth of this forsaken lawn,
Fled with long welcome to a safer clime,
From dire disasters free, both blushing dawn,
And field, or saffron bower, or yellow prime
Of deep autumnal leaf, or purple stain
Of evening cloud serene, or faded toy
Of giddy fancy, light fantastic vein!
Breed shallow rapture of unsinewy joy:
Perish the blast, and that relentless sky,
That gave to lonesome sleep thy lingering bier!
For thee my bosom heaves the lingering tear:
And Echo would my plaintive song adorn,
With distant close, by dying zephyrs borne
"Ah fancy'd bliss! Ah fruitless theme!"
And sigh'd to think her airy fame
Was all the Muse's meed, an empty name:
And every sable flow'r that grew around,
My dull-ey'd melancholy found,
With those a garland in my haste I wove,
And gave to every Satyr in the grove,
Which round his trickling, rueful cheeks he bound.
Mad is the toil of each poetic brain,
That weaves abandon'd verse, though pure the strain,
With high and heav'nly thought enraptur'd flow;
Ah wild! distress, and pangs, and storms ensue:
Forsake, my Muse, thy lyre, nor more pursue
The ragged, vagrant trade, nor run forlorn
Amongst the crazy herd, and loitering crew.
Ye winds, which oft with rage tumultuous blow,
That wont the winter's midnight hours to rove
Through the dark branches of this bellowing wood,
My rattling fingers join your tempest rude:
And you, ye unlaunch'd spirits, yet unborn,
Whose bosoms have not plung'd into the flood
Of billowy rhyme, attend whilst I rehearse,
In doleful strains and in deep murmuring verse,
The cares, the dire decree you must endure;
With trembling hand I trace that awful pow'r,
Ah me! and living mingle tears with you!
Another bard, the black malignant show'r
Feeds the fresh torrent of mellifluous woe!
Ah youth! whose feet through happier gardens stray,
By bank, or greener mead, or shadowy spring,
Again, where oft on thy melodious string,
Elysian airs invite, to thee, my lay
Now swells, releas'd from this long painful night
Of Poverty, whose ghastly sons below,
I trace, by haunted grove, with leaden flight
Of melancholy rhyme and sad dismay;
Bards, that in useless bodies live, that crew
Of tall, fantastic shadows, airy, light,
Majestic, of immortal vapour, low,
Despis'd and famish'd, fed with rapture dear,
Ethereal rich repast, their earthly fare!
Ah heirs of rest for you yon skies prepare,
Of you I sing, your clouded sunshine here,
In this dark dreary orb's tempestuous air;
And as each keen, inveterate dart I shew,
Let Envy own your ills and avarice bear,
And thus exclaim'd the song in accents drear,
And thus bewilder'd ran in strains of woe.
That every Muse, whose pure exalted clay,
Breathes with full proof of heaven's peculiar love,
Whose bright and sacred birth, refulgent day!
Recorded is by high empyrean Jove,
Should be the scorn of fate! his laurell'd brow,
And bright, superior, heav'nly birth, above
Nor pangs nor Penury, thy rigid foe!
Bereft of human bliss, her moments flow
In Poverty's irrevocable gloom,
Remote, condemn'd with lonely steps to rove
An exile, cold, perplex'd, ungenial doom!
Whose life the dark Siberian realms immure.
If spring returns, if Nature yields her store
Of fruit and fragrant pleasures, if the sky
With noontide brightness glows, man's chearful eye
Admires those welcome charms, and hails the hour
Of their resplendent morn; but not the green
Of Summer gay, whose shades, in azure die,
Nor dawn nor purple cloud, though cool the line,
With radiant suns, declines; and though her toil
Steals every changeful tint, nor various scene
Resplendent in the Muse's page, nor hour
Of her distinguish'd birth, his grateful smile
Extort, or needful boon, in vain they shine,
In vain her blushing fields autumnal bear
The orient gold, of cutting blast secure,
And heaviest woes endur'd, profuse the show'r!
In vain she sings, in vain her infant flow'r
Opes its full foliage to the blustering year.
Shall then the noble stream neglected flow
In veins of high descent, to heav'n ally'd
With more than mortal claim, of arts below,
Intended as the first and best to please,
In e'vry sacred form, on earth decreed,
To be the sovereign charm, of amplest pow'r
To lure, to seize the soul, that swells the tide
Of tears in tragic line, and rears the seed
Of honour, from heroic acts to soar,
Rous'd by the mightier song's majestic grace,
To arms when rais'd; or if, a moral guide,
The Muse instructs, and Points the cautious way,
Through thorns and snares to deeds of pious fame,
Enamour'd, in her pure celestial theme,
We trace ideal Virtue bright, whose ray
Shines in the Mantuan page, with fairest face,
In heav'nly numbers taught; and happier he,
In that Augustan age, (Ah happier day!)
Who sung, nor sought with needless care the praise
Of some keen patron kind, for then the Muse
Honour'd the princely roof, and sat in hall
Of kings, unenvious, yet of kings the pride,
Grac'd with imperial song; to wanton use,
But now she stoops, and hears with pain the call,
To unchaste haunts, of such who base deride
Her pure and holy springs, whose venal lays,
Mix'd with Castalian brook, run dregs and weeds,
A sad polluted flood, and wear the bays,
Won by profaner art; ye hollow reeds
Of song, whose mouth the tongue of flattery feeds,
And opes your pliant pipe, may Phebus' steeds
Dismount you, in your vain and loose career,
Leave your degenerate limbs; yet some there are
Of modern rhyme, that have preserv'd the stream,
Unstain'd; Musaeus, he of blameless fame,
Who sung, and be the epic hoof that trac'd,
Of rattling sound; Ah! could my Muse uprais'd,
Climb that high venturous track! to such, her lay
Pours the full tribute, and aspires to soar
On uncorrupted wing, though cold her day,
And cold her recompence, and bitter show'r
Hail stores of sentenc'd woe; Ah! dire the gale!
And deep the gulph! to him who trims the sail
Of feeble song, though fraught with precious ore,
Drawn from the rich Parnassian mine! in vain!
Opposeless currents roll! Ah! dire the shore!
In vain! the ruffian winds his pow'rs assail!
Nor art, nor sovereign pow'r, nor charms avail,
Incessant cares the stern command fulfill,
Of him, who bade the Muse her fate bewail.
Weep, delug'd lyre; let every verse distill
The trickling tear, and in your angry course,
High up the cliffs of yon ethereal hill
Re-echoing rise, and hit the trembling ear,
Of dark mysterious Jove; in mournful strain
Let the loud cataract roar; Ah me! the source
From whence your sorrows flow! that splendid train
Of all those matchless ills, your signal share!
Say then, immortal Sire, and you, ye few,
Who touch'd your favour'd harps endear'd with gold,
And taste of mortal bliss, in grot, or bow'r,
By Thames, or Tiber's banks, where danc'd the hour,
In song and grateful mirth, to loftier lays,
Now tun'd, by purer streams, that here below,
From your high cloudless regions calm, behold
Your kindred lyres endure the dire disgrace
Of Poverty, upon her awful throne,
Say in her ragged train of spectres drear,
Exhausted, faint, to her tyrannic frown,
Where kneels the wretched page, by rude mischance
Compell'd, who feels more woeful pang severe
Than that oppress'd and sacred bosom, thrown
On wreck of fortune, and tempestuous fate?
Distinguish'd are the ills thy pow'rs create!
Ah! torment of exalted spirits! Hence,
Renounce thy lyre, and choose a lowlier state,
The shepherd's homely fare, and simple dress,
And take thy pipe, and seek that harmless praise,
To carrol oaten tune with rustic ease;
Some swain its notes may hear, its breath may raise
Some pittance poor, some memory dear may grace,
And rear thy rhymeless stone; some future lay,
Like thine, may mourn, some bard, thus hapless may
Commend thy humble task, "Ah! vain to climb
Imperious height! and vain the idle store
Of all the poet's airy thoughts, though warm,
His fresh but hideous pictures glow! his rhyme
In vain! with Muse of pow'r and murmuring charm
Of ebbing numbers, and tumultuous roar
Of vast resurging verse!" Ah cruel eye!
Prophetic woes inspire; mature, I see
Within the big unhallow'd womb of time,
Less glorious page, and less despotic sway
Of thy weak babling lyre, the future day,
My Muse uncurtain'd sees, to highest noon,
Now rais'd, her beams expire; with downward sun
She falls; what bard protracts her flight? apace
She falls, that erst on tow'ring courser high,
And full-fledg'd wing sustain'd of British flame,
Swift o'er the ambient fields of heav'n upborn,
With fancy not yet breathless in the race,
Advanc'd, nor check'd the rein; Ah me! her morn
Declines; across the vast Atlantic stream,
To continental regions far remote,
She flies, in haste to swell her infant note,
To sound of mighty deeds, and lift the theme
To liberty, Britannia's secret pride,
Though curb'd by parent rule; to loftier skies,
And loftier realms she flies, in deserts wide
To range, of woods and plains, to pour the tide
Of music in her swelling numbers, proud
Of waving pines, and scenes, and worlds unknown,
And wilds, and glimmering lakes, and torrents loud,
And rivers yet unroll'd in song; she flies,
Abroad she steers; or if by airy fame,
(Too late her labour in these arduous days,)
Impell'd, and laurel sprouting o'er his tomb,
Some wanderer still in fancy's giddy dream,
Views Nature in her sportive shapes, with plume
Adorn'd, who now its nodding height that trace,
In mirror dear, within his mimic page,
See sacred charm? Ah youth! of such disdain,
To court the scornful smile, nor senseless deign,
To shew thy splendid glass, poetic rage
Will burn unseen, and with melodious change,
May roll, may rise, but their unletter'd air
Will quite congeal thy frame; or if thy song
Demands a patron's warmth, Ah! vain to rear
The line! what trifler of the playful throng
Will now protect the Muse, or twine the wreath
Her brows deserve, and give her breath to range
With free, unpinion'd flight? in vain! beneath,
On earth the droops; in vain the feed to raise
Of tow'ring song, and sing inglorious lays!
Wake, phrenzy'd lyre, indulge thy warmer vein,
That I may rouse from lethargy this tame
And dull enfeebled age; with bolder strain,
Rais'd to full height of proud Phoebean flame,
That would with the transcendent sun of verse,
Give lustre to the theme, and dazzling blaze
Meridian fire; but Ah! 'tis check'd! the zeal,
And fury of thy song, and idle storm!
Dread horror, and the ghastly specter'd form
Of Poverty, and its thin sickly meal,
Unfurnishes the brain, no more immerse
Thyself in lamp-worn, midnight trade,
Of truant, lazy rhyme; for who array'd
In pomp and splendour, will thy tale requite?
That erst, in antient art, to princely ear,
Engross'd, and giddy with its stern delight,
Gave loftiest ecstasy, reluctant fate!
Now doom'd in this contemptuous clime to bear
Each jest and censure, though its pride and grace!
In tears, my Muse, thy pangs, thy death relate:
Does conscious fancy now thy bosom seize,
To the courtier's praise? Alas, thy tongue
Entranc'd with other dreams, his pension'd eye
Sees brighter visions in a star or place;
Degenerate day! Ah! issue not thy song,
To this ungrateful isle, nor studious raise
One sacred image, and thy fires deny;
But let coarse numbers, which no Muses bring,
Address'd, and courted oft with strange request,
Drawn from no hallow'd, high Pierian spring,
The current calm of those declining days,
Run in light strain for its ungarnish'd feast.
Of time, to ocean roll'd, dethron'd, the day
Retires, in ocean sets, its ceaseless tide
Descends, and all yon glittering skies array,
In its resistless course, to earth ally'd,
The torrent sweeps, and in its boundless sway,
Involves; the Muse its gathering showr's deride:
Ah! lost, dejected, weeping prostrate lyre!
Receive my last adieu; from me, thy wire
No more shall murmur with superfluous lays,
In clouds thy year, in clouds thy eve decays;
And must thy mean, degraded worth endure
The loose, ungovern'd laugh, and haughty look
Of shallow ignorance? Ah! wasted hour
On that dear, faithless, art! and dire rebuke
And season sharp! that soon in winter hoar
Must blast the laurel, and disrobe the bough!
Those perishable lines thy doom deplore
And shall again no future bosoms glow,
And feel the lingering fire, themselves to raise
Aloft, and seek of sacred rhyme the praise?
Nor ravish'd with the majesty of song,
Burst from the cumbrous weight of Gothic shade,
By late or antient bards heroic rung,
Shall none again surround, no distant race,
Their loud, triumphant strains? Ah idle verse!
What show'r can drown Olympus? lofty, proud,
In mist sublime, above, whose tow'ring head
Ascends, or what, for ever mute, can chain
The lyre, of wakeful pow'r? though hid in cloud
Of barbarous ages, and to bright disgrace
Condemn'd, in thy secluded paths to fame,
All glorious Poverty! what gloom detain
The golden morn of song? from darkness free,
That shall again the clear dominion claim,
Of earth, its radiance, and remount the throne.
Of kings, in midnight plung'd, the spark decays,
That never, in oblivion sunk, with thee,
Of that superior dignity, shall rise,
With thy immortal splendor's orient crown,
A meteor's triumph, and extinguish'd blaze:
But who on its late gather'd fruit relies?
Or cares what future wealth or fame succeed?
And Ah! who reaps the food, and present meed,
Which living fortune to thy fate denies!
Shall I the sad mischance and story tell,
Of that Moeonian chief, the beggar bard,
High rank'd in Poverty, in song as high
Of equal deep extreme, the parent seed
Of both, hereditary vein, though blind,
Condemn'd in streets with misery to dwell,
And ask the doubtful boon? if veil'd his eye,
Yet Jove within pour'd the bright reward
Of hapless verse, and his all-seeing mind,
Wide op'd with lust'rous beam; or shall I speak
Of that neglected other sightless sage,
That sung of Eden lost, whose peerless page
Blooms with perennial verdure, cherub song,
And laurel ever green? or him bewail,
Whom late distraction led the cup to take,
Of deep and pois'nous draught? or need I seek
For more of this lean, aguish tribe, their lot,
In some vile corner of a dreary hut,
By sorrow sought to swell her frantic tale?
Ah, dire! but cease, my Muse, nor thus prolong
The woeful pictures wan of poets, drawn
From native climes, entomb'd to memory now
Endear'd; or living in this luckless age,
Wild, and still wandering on the Alpine snow,
Forsook, or soft Hesperia's tuneful shore,
Of universal semblance, ghostly, pale,
Impoverish'd, rude, and eyes uprais'd with scorn
From bodies unremember'd in the rage
Of their all-heav'nly feast: those crimes impure,
That wound their short terrestrial joys, forlorn,
With modest warmth I sing; impure the soul,
That locks from liberal use the sordid gold!
Impure their sleep whose dreams its dust adore!
Ah lyre! can grief like thine its tears controul?
Impure the breast that with embraces warm,
Hugs the deep laden bag's imprison'd ore,
And leaves the Muse uncloath'd in winter's cold!
Like some sad tree, with each defenceless arm,
Torn with tempestuous winds, whose pregnant head
Erst tow'rd with full-grown fruits, of mellowest charm,
Its wealth unhonour'd, and unmourn'd its shade!
Ah! harsh the storm, and envious wrath severe!
Ah! harsh the show'r, and cruel every wind,
That breathes on vernal bud with churlish air
Ah! harsh the storm, and keener stars unkind,
That blast the Muse's birth with budding care!
And is neglect and sorrow, then, to be
Thy sad and dreary doom? and studious night
In clayless cottage, cold and sacred seat
Of Muses faint, that shudder as they write,
And bind the knotty rhyme? and dubious fee
Of stinted morsel? haste, thy birth disclaim;
Go, wander, youth; to other climes thy fate
Commend; to other toils; indignant, fly,
Resolve, prepare, and dig the fruitful mine
For wealth, for affluence; or from India's soil
Bring palms, bring fortune; with the haughty spoil
Of millions bright, thy sterling lustre, shine;
To thee, then, bow the whole obedient nine;
In wit, in wisdom, and in sense supreme;
Prolific source of taste, and spark divine
Attend, embrace the hour, on gold rely,
Immortal gold above the laureat name,
Shall gild, shall grace thy breast, with art supply;
But stay, Oh stay, nor build thy sinful fame
On crimes, that deep, the voice of heav'n deny!
Ah crimes! ye sons of this rapacious isle,
For gold who murther, and on guilt refine!
And shall their ashes live in sculptur'd pile,
Above the humble Muse's moss-grown shrine?
Whose blushing statues, o'er their boasted earth,
Embalm'd, with sad, involuntary stream,
Weep, whilst beneath we read the long record
Of vast, ignoble praise? go, erring youth,
Hence, haste, to glory sail, to gold thy eye
Remove, nor more in fancy's flow'ry path,
Delight; believe the song, this splendid truth,
The stature of thy thought, and current worth,
Lays in the lofty ore. — Ah fruitless wrath!
Then loose each string, and every feeble chord,
Of thy forsaken lyre, and close the strain,
And let no more its mellow notes resound,
By grove or hill, nor of its fate complain;
Harmonious wretchedness, proverbial wound,
And penury's cruel source. Ah, prompted ire!
And willing phrenzy! and fanatic sweep!
And vengeance of thy hate! and wild resolve
Weep, every brimful flow'r, promiscuous weep,
Ye swelling cataracts, with me, and dissolve
In heavy murmurs hoarse; Ah mournfull lyre!
Ah lyre! the parent of each pregnant tear!
And lamentable deed! Ah weary flood!
Ah light, fantastic bliss of future fame!
And airy recompence! Ah living draught
Of misery's bitter cup! and thin repast!
And wakeful fancy sore! and distant food!
To every rock, and every hill, proclaim
Reverberated woe — Ah, charm remote!
Ah, tyrant to the Muse, and triumph base,
Imperious Poverty! and miscreant deed!
And felon Avarice! Ah sad disease
Of ghastly, craving purse! Ah shallow seed
Of happiness, unsown in tuneful breast!
Forbidden, mortal fruit! Ah wizard song!
Ah useless diligence!—
—As loud, I struck
The clamorous wire, and with attractive scorn
Drew every Sylvan foot, and Woodnymph near,
That long, in shadowy dell, and glade, had born
Their sorrows big, and with dejected air
Listen'd unto my lay, whilst every oak,
That heard its sound, in clump, or craggy dale,
Which did his stubborn sinews stiff, provoke
With sturdy echo, and each answering vale
Remurmur'd soft applause, "Ah, idle toy!
Ah fairy fancy!" from yon leafy screen
Of opening boughs unclos'd, whose window high
Into the chamber cool of this wide wood
Let in cerulean light, descending, stood
A Muse divine; that from Parnassian height,
In heav'nly region, o'er the Grecian hill,
An atom of base magnitude, uprose,
With song as eminent, above the skill
Of mortals, inaccessible to flight
Of loftiest wing, and, dropt, in strains like those,
Check'd my despairing line—
Reproachful bard, in angry mood,
What tears prolong'd, their frantic flood,
Swell, from the shallow source of ransack'd woe!
With the rude stream thy trickling numbers flow,
And blame with bold, imperious tide, severe,
The just decrees of Jove; Ah, impious lyre!
Stain'd with the guilt that dares yon Truth assail,
With thy weak, infant, wild, presumptuous tale,
Of its disast'rous fate — Insatiate ire!
Infirm the Muse, whose fevers fear,
The great illustrious storm to vear,
Spurn the low pomp which mortals vain admire,
And be my gold thy sole extent of care.
From that rare, dazzling wealth, undug below,
Far from this orb obscure, whose twilight ray
Scarce lights thy glimmering path, in tranquil bow'r,
Umbrageous, green, of arch'd ethereal shade;
From the pure calm of that unchangeful hour,
On hill enraptur'd laid, whose crimson brow
Refulgent glories gild, unsetting day,
I come; from each luxuriant banquet, spread
With fruits, no mean Hesperian suns mature:
Cease, hear, thus Jove's indulgent strains reply;
Ah, cease, ungrateful, cease, and envious hear;
Up to yon roof, a favour'd guest,
I bid thee to the sumptuous feast,
Regal'd at my replenish'd table high,
With sweets, the choice of heav'n's redundant year.
My steps to see, my sceptre share,
In vain the task, thy dreams forbear;
Keen are the eyes that meet the lamp of morn;
With those frail pow'rs thy reptile sense adorn,
What mortal thus benighted can behold,
Above, in its eternal sunshine clear,
My wisdom, tow'rd, supreme? To Avarice, gold,
Of abject worth, I give; to kings, the reign,
I mark, of measur'd rule; in dear array,
Thy realms are those, their depth I shew,
Yon azure fields of fainter hue,
Down the broad paths of heav'n's extended plain,
Thy lingering Empire, and unbounded sway.
Of coarse and sparing meal, and morsel rude,
And raiment vile, and walls of dreary light,
In kingdom of thy Muse, and costlier food
Of Phoebus, whose proud, gorgeous visions shine
Round thy aerial throne, with rich delight
O'er canopy'd, in heaven and state divine,
Why this contempt and scorn? Thy grandeur trace;
Canst thou, with bosom gem inrob'd, unfold,
With that exalted spark's ennobling flame,
Triumphant fancy, pure, unrivall'd gold,
More glow of ornament? Is wealth thy praise?
Thine is the gift, the graceful store,
The fruitful spring, the glittering ore,
Embellish'd with bold, sparkling, flooded beam,
The radiant fire of song, and lust'rous blaze.
On earth, thy doom of transient date,
Where pour the ills thy pangs create,
Man's cruel darts, the stings of fate beside,
Stem the rough wave, the show'rs of life deride;
In Penury's garb, with cloak of ruthless woe,
Indignant Virtue of the Muse hath shewn,
From crazy, rafter'd roof, and cottage low,
To my fix'd, stateliest hall's celestial height,
And fortune wide, and years of young renown:
Correct thy rage, thy splendor here,
For mine renounce, those robes prefer,
Enrich'd, in yon imperial mansions bright,
With peace, the pride of heav'n's distinguish'd crown.
Who seeks from pain my long repose, his hour
By lust unconquer'd lives; Ah fly! the fire
Subdue, then cease, nor court the rankling show'r
On Avarice thrown, whose mines no Muse inspire
With their superfluous grace; untorturing flow
My joys, that deep thy guiltless draughts allure,
Of those the taste, of those, the floods renew;
Ah, cease those miscreant strains; to me thy lyre
Awake, to virtuous lays, my tuneful ear
Attends; what gold can, poor, on earth, compare
With mine, the loftier meed? in yonder skies,
I call thee to transcendent ease,
The rich reserve of orient bliss,
Cherish the grateful thought, thy glory view,
And build thy wealth on their immortal prize.
She fled, clouds vanish'd; and the forms unveil'd
From vapours, that with tall gigantic stride
Stalk'd through ideal mist, dispers'd, and day
Rose with full cherub smile; the opening pride,
The ample range, the kingdom'd sweep,
The blue command of yon ethereal steep,
Tow'rs — and the deep-fraught eye of fancy swell'd
Exhaustless treasure, which the Muse unchang'd
For fathomless, full purse, profuse around,
Flings from her liberal chest; unaw'd along
The torrent flows, and her large, affluent show'r,
On the dull, poor, unenvy'd bags of fame,
Breaks with broad levell'd dart; on pinions light,
She oft with richer view hath rang'd
Earth, seas, and skies, th' empyrean plain;
Clogg'd with no mean impediments, the weight
Of dross, and metal vile, she soars amain,
Up the wide arch of heav'n, and leaves the crowd
Of mortals groveling in low-relish'd dust,
Uncircumscrib'd, in magazine of joy,
And Gold supreme of song. Such verse, the Muse,
In no penurious strain, ignoble — proud
Of dauntless, roving art, her simple boast,
Caught from the living stamp of wealth and pow'r,
And dar'd in uncouth rhyme undeck'd, disclose
The purse-worn grandeur, and the base alloy
Of Avarice and Pride, the tinsel throng,
Spirits of just reproof; whilst low the fun,
Downwards upon his sloping errand, cool,
Beneath the penthouse of her straw-clad shed,
Peep'd through the window rent, of lattic'd clay,
Close, on a bench, where lean'd her rustic head,
Unpolish'd, homely, made with shepherd's rule,
And crimson'd all the roof with farewell red,
Wishing no solemn fancies may dismay,
And chase fair Peace away,
Till his enlighten'd, clear return,
Or that clear, fairer, bright, resplendent morn,
That pours with golden flood celestial day.