1785
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Ode to Summer.

The Florence Miscellany.

Robert Merry


Robert Merry's Ode to Summer is one of the more attractive imitations of Collins's Ode to Evening. The imagery, rendered specifically Italian, is similarly georgic but Merry expands the temporal frame to include, in the manner of Milton's L'Allegro, a complete diurnal frame with its varied lights and shades.

W. N. Hargreaves-Mawdsley: "Yes, Collins was the other modern poet whom the Della Cruscans tried to emulate. There are two absolutely pure examples of Collins in The Florence Miscellany both by Merry, the Ode to Summer and the Ode to Winter, in the first of which are two lines which might well have been written by Collins: 'That feebly winds along, | And mourns her channel shrunk.' Elsewhere sings of influence are less direct than those of Gray, for Collins was too complex to serve easily as a model. Nevertheless his classical metres, his sensitive handling of nature, and his less happy use of epithet are honoured by the Della Cruscans' attempt to imitate them, although success is seldom achieved" The English Della Cruscans and their Time (1967) 52-53.



Joy to thee, bright-hair'd Summer! much I love
To gaze upon thy full-blown beauty's pride,
As thro' Val d' Arno's gloom,
I take my lonely way.

What time dun-vested Night her deep repose
Reluctant leaves, chased by the jocund dawn,
And incoherent song
Of wild Pan's restless reed.

Now the fierce Sun uprears his flaming shield,
And mounts in martial pomp his eastern car;
Forests, and tow'ring hills,
Start from the golden blaze.

While streams of yore renown'd, with clear blue wave
Reflect his orient locks, and far away,
Fair, but inconstant Spring,
Gathers her sweets, and flies.

I see thee triumph o'er the inactive plain,
When ruddy Noon obeys thy sultry pow'r,
And stretch'd in thoughtless ease,
The toil-worn peasant lies.

'Tis then I seek the thick-wall'd cloister's shade,
And from some nook observe the languid flocks;
Or by the gray fly stung,
The bounding heifer's rage.

Or hear the light Cicala's ceaseless din
That vibrates shrill; or the near-weaping brook,
That feebly winds along,
And mourns her channel shrunk.

As the proud day retires, the western hills
Adorn their varied ridge with shad'wy forms,
While fresh'ning Zephyr comes
To fan the cheek of Eve.

And lo! the wand'ring virgin of the sky,
As thro' the azure vault supreme she sails,
Scatters her silv'ry beam
And points th' Horizon's bound

While warbled measures fill the panting gale,
The Lucciola, beside each dark'ning grove,
His momentary lamp,
Alternate shows, and hides.

Or leads the lovers to some secret bow'r,
And flits around, and darts his mimic ray
Upon the maiden's breast,
And lights th' adoring eye.

O vagrant insect! type of our short life,
'Tis thus we shine, and vanish from the view;
For the cold season comes,
And all our lustre's o'er.

Yet stay awhile sweet Summer! nor too soon
Avert thy blushing face, but cheer the hind
With gifts, that Plenty pours
From her redundant horn.

[pp. 109-12]