1787
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Ode to Tranquility.

The World, Fashionable Advertiser (25 August 1787).

Robert Merry


Thirteen blank-verse quatrains. Robert Merry (writing as "Della Crusca") searches vainly for Tranquility in the places where poetry is generally found. She is located at last beneath a yew-tree's shade: "There shall I find thee, gentle Maid, at last; | And as I moulder, may no rav'nous bird, | Or prowling beast of night, | Shatter my peaceful shroud." The measure is that of Collins's Ode to Evening, Merry taking the descriptive rather than the allegorical option in treating his subject. The World was the premier organ of Della Cruscan poetry.



O modest Maid! whom I in vain have sought
For many an irksome year on foreign shores,
Where is thy calm abode,
Benign Tranquility!

Say, dost thou dwell amidst the rustic train,
Who in their humble hamlets seem t' escape
The tedious forms of life,
And all its rending cares?

So Fancy whispers to the Trav'ler's ear,
As sad he journeys o'er the rugged steep,
And views the scene below,
Where the contending youths

Humble the yellow CERES, or gay groupes
Of blushing maidens tread the verdant lawn;
As to the lucid stream,
They lead their timid flocks.

But cruel Want, or desolating Toil,
Perhaps Oppression, forces them away,
And glooms the vernal vale,
And damps each rising joy.

Nor dost thou haunt the 'lone MONK'S solemn cell,
Nor wander with him in the Moon's pale beam,
While Echo sad returns
His melancholy tread.

For there each warmth represt that man should feel,
Dull Superstition blunts each finest sense,
And every bliss is lost,
In ignorance and pride.

And when the brazen trumpet's piercing sound,
Rattles 'mongst gorgeous, Gothic palaces;
While in majestic Pomp's
Magnificent array

Come sweeping forth high POTENTATES, and DAMES,
Sublime in Beauty's bloom, and WARRIORS bold
Stalk in the eye of Kings;
Alas! THOU art not there!

Thou fly'st alike the jovial Youths, who waste
The morning of their lives in wild excess,
And with their reason lose
Remembrance of thy loss.

Nor dost thou e'er repose thee on the couch,
Of mutual love, from extacies too keen,
Joy drives thee forth awhile,
Then burning Jealousy.

But O! beneath yon range of aged yews,
Whose gloomy verdure awfully accords
With the dark scene around
Of Solitude and DEATH.

There shall I find thee, gentle Maid, at last;
And as I moulder, may no rav'nous bird,
Or prowling beast of night,
Shatter my peaceful shroud.

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