1797
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Ode to Amicus.

Poetical Register and Repository of Fugitive Poetry for 1802 (1803) 314-17.

Richard Alfred Davenport


Fifteen stanzas dated 1797 describing how the young poet spends winters days avoiding (it would seem) work on a heroic poem: "But, much more do I love to meet | The tender friends my heart holds dear: | Delighted, to their converse sweet | I listen with attentive ear; | Till pining Sorrow sleeps awhile, | And Pleasure wakes again a smile." Edmund Spenser appears in a catalogue of poets. The ode is signed "Mr. R. A. Davenport." Davenport's early verse was of a Della Cruscan cast. "Amicus" was likely the poet Peter L. Courier.



Friend of my heart! you ask in vain,
I cannot from my much lov'd lyre
Call forth the rapid, glowing strain;
Chill'd is the Muse's genial fire:
Sunk in profound repose she lies,
Lethean slumbers seal her eyes.

For see, no fair scene smiles around,
No warm sun bids the buds unclose;
No wild flowers sweet bedeck the ground,
No stream in tuneful murmurs flows;
No birds gay carol in the trees,
Nor sighs the foliage to the breeze:

But all is cheerless, bleak, and bare,
Save where just peeps the snow-drop's bell;
Chill fogs hang heavy on the air;
The blast raves loudly through the dell;
And wet, and numb'd, the toiling swain
Unwilling treads the miry plain.

Ask you, how I contrive to spend
The long-protracted gloomy hours,
Since now, no more the Muse, my friend,
Exerts her care-dispelling powers?
List: I will tell you how I strive
Far from my breast dark thoughts to drive:

If not too sternly frowns the day;
From social breakfast, when I rise,
I to the busy city stray,
And ask some politician wise
What army's beat, what state must fall
Before the hateful anarch, Gaul?

But, much more do I love to meet
The tender friends my heart holds dear:
Delighted, to their converse sweet
I listen with attentive ear;
Till pining Sorrow sleeps awhile,
And Pleasure wakes again a smile.

There, as I gaze on Stella's eyes,
Though mute, that eloquently speak;
Hear Laura's voice like Zephyr's sighs,
And mark the bloom on Mira's cheek;
I think on her, the maid divine,
in whom these varied beauties join

Should winds and clouds the day deform,
I bid the cheering fire blaze bright,
And, shutting out the driving storm,
from morning dawn till dusky night
I sit, like some sage wight profound,
With countless volumes scatter'd round.

Intent with curious eye, I pore
O'er many a philosophic scroll;
Search History's exhaustless store,
The deeds of elder time unroll;
See serried legions crowd the field,
And free-born states to tyrants yield.

I turn the Chian-minstrel's page,
There, brutal Diomed appears
There stern Pelides' quenchless rage,
There sad Andromache in tears:
I sigh o'er godlike Hector's fate,
And lofty Ilion's sinking state.

Oft, rapt by Ariosto's verse,
Or his who sang on Mulla's shore,
I combat firm, with monsters fierce,
Rush to where swells the battle's roar;
Or wondering stray through fairy bowers,
Through trophied halls, and moss-clad towers.

Lo, Shakespeare waves his potent wand
On wings of wind light spirits ride,
Embodied, at his high command,
Sons of past years before me glide
Aw'd by the wild and solemn tones,
My soul his mighty magic owns.

With tender Petrarch, sad, I weep;
The realms of woe with Dante dare:
On venturous wing, with Milton sweep
Heaven's arch, and breathe inspiring air;
Or, hurried to the Boreal clime,
I trace the mystic Runic-rhyme.

Thus charm'd, unmark'd each moment steals,
Till roused by midnight-bell unblest,
I seek my bed; — where soft Sleep seals
My weary eyes in balmy rest;
And, glowing with each favourite theme,
I of Love, Hope, and Sorrow dream.

Inglorious now, on silent wings,
Thus moves day after day along;
But soon my lov'd lyre's slumbering strings
Will I awake; soon shall the song
Sacred to Glory's awful charms,
In rapid numbers call to arms!

[pp. 314-17]