1785
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Ode to Winter.

The Florence Miscellany.

Robert Merry


Robert Merry's blank-verse Ode to Winter, the companion to his Ode to Summer, takes imagery from Milton's Il Penseroso, including the famous visionary passage: "Fancy comes | In pilgrim robe array'd, | And waves her magic wand. | Lo! at her call the fairy visions rise, | That calm the sense of woe." p. 114. Thomson's Winter is also a source. The measure is that of Collins's Ode to Evening. The connection between the Della Cruscans and the odes of John Keats is perhaps more apparent than usual: "sallow Autumn throws | His golden treasure round | And drains the purple vine."

Raymond Dexter Havens: "The Della Cruscans were no more a definite body than were the New England transcendentalists. Mrs. Piozzi (Dr. Johnson's Mrs. Thrale) was the center of the group in Florence; but, except for a piece by Bertie Greatheed and one by William Parsons, Robert Merry appears to have been the only one of the number who contributed to the World. As the poems published in this paper were were anonymous, apparently any one — even Sheridan — who fell in with the fad and had his verses accepted was a Della Crucsan. Merry and 'Perdita' Robinson were, however, the principle offenders.... The few volumes of verse composed by the Della Cruscans are in themselves negligible, but as a symptom of the times, as a crystallization of vague, floating tendencies, they are of some importance. Della Cruscanism was in the air before Merry began to write, and was exhibited by many who never read the Florence Miscellany or the World" Influence of Milton (1922) 505.



O welcome to my soul congenial Pow'r!
Rough Winter hail! I love thy hoary locks,
Thy tempest-breathing sighs,
The deluge of thy tears.

The forest shrinks beneath thine iron rod,
And the sad herds a faithless shelter seek,
Where the time-moulder'd tow'r,
Hangs tott'ring o'er the plain.

They raise their wishful eyes that seem t' upbraid
The ruthless season; while the raven cries,
From solitary tree,
With hoarse, and mournful note.

High Fiesole, of the bright mantle spoil'd
That once he wore with Flora's brede adorn'd,
In many a low'ring cloud,
Enwraps his sullen breast.

Nor longer Arno winds a stealing course
Thro' laughing meads, but on swift eddies borne,
His rude discordant tide
Rolls to the western deep.

This is my fav'rite hour of bliss serene,
To me more grateful, than the gaudy time,
When vocal Spring awakes
Her gaily-painted flowers.

Than when red Summer glares with sultry gaze
On the parch'd hills, or sallow Autumn throws
His golden treasure round,
And drains the purple vine.

Amidst the dreary Apennines I hear
The rumbling rocks increase the torrent's roar,
And the wide-ranging wolf
Howl on the mountain's side.

While Echo, starting from her icy bed,
Mimicks the uproar wild, and Fancy comes
In pilgrim robe array'd,
And waves her magic wand.

Lo! at her call the fairy visions rise,
That calm the sense of woe, Remembrance brings
The mirrour of the past,
And sober Reason reigns.

Where are the jocund hours of wanton Mirth
That late beguil'd my youth, where are the friends
That join'd the choral lay,
When life's fair morn began?

Perchance they chase the fleeting pleasures still,
Nor cast one thought on him who listens here
To the wild storm, and woos
Grim midnight to his arms.

Then welcome to my soul congenial Power!
Rough Winter hail! I love thy hoary locks,
They tempest-breathing sighs,
The deluge of thy tears.

[pp. 113-15]