1789
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Ode to Autumn.

Town and Country Magazine 21 (September 1789) 427.

William Hamilton Reid


An imitation of Collins's Ode to Evening. William Hamilton Reid, one of the most dexterous and successful periodical poets of the day, captures the manner and mood of his original far more successfully than most of the other attempts to emulate Collins's famous lyric. The transitional season echoes the transitional time of day, of course, but Reid also finds happy ways to render the equivocality of Collins's allegorical descriptions. The poet was a regular contributor to the Town and Country Magazine.



Eve of the year! now that the sister train
Of gaudy Summer with the wanton Hours
With lingering step retire
Thy modest charms unfold.

Thee, sober Nymph, the pensive Pleasures hail,
And Leisure, roving midst thy teeming shores;
Thy purpled heaths full glow,
And rich nectarean blooms.

Oh calm enchantress! when day-cares are lost
In twilight glooms, let me attentive view
The glow-worm's paly lamp,
As misty vapours rise.

Or where the staid rook builds his wick'ry nest,
From potent instinct, high in wavy elms,
That o'er some Gothic hall,
Their darkling umbrage spread.

Nor yet ungrateful is thy morn's approach,
Though dropping chill she comes in cloudy vest,
And slowly spreads around
The landscape dark and dim.

Nor less delights, tho' Philomel retire,
Thy red-breast, sacred from domestic trust;
Whose homelier notes call up
In many a rustic ear

The tale of Babes deserted in the Wood,
That sinking lifeless in each other's arms,
Thy pitying red-breast saw,
And them interr'd with leaves.

And tho' for thee bloom not the summer flow'rs,
Emblems of Fancy, Pleasure, Love, and Joy;
Annuals and evergreens
Paint to the moral view

The Virtues; whose unfading hues out-vie
Warm Fancy, fairy Pleasure, juv'nile Joy;
Nor less lamented falls
Than calmest day's decline;

And far more joyous are thy laughing fields,
When sure Possession takes the lead of Hope,
Than Flora's tinted robe,
Than Summer's brightest beam.

Oh Nymph sedate! still on thy absent hours
May Plenty, Industry, and Peace attend;
Nor fear the Boreal blast
That bellows thro' the void.

[p. 427]