1803
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Ode to Night.

Poems, containing Dramatic Sketches of Northern Mythology, &c. By Frank Sayers, M.D. The Third Edition.

Dr. Frank Sayers


Twelve blank-verse stanzas, after Collins's Ode to Evening; the aurora borealis is an uncommon feature in descriptive odes: "While from the northern verge of ether shoot | The flickering tides of ever-changing light, | Now rolling yellow streams, | Now ting'd with glary red." More than Collins, however, Frank Sayers seems to be imitating Milton's companion poems. The Ode to Night appears to be a companion poem to Sayers's Ode to Aurora, printed in the first edition of Poems (1792).



Hither, O queen of silence, turn the steeds
The slow-pac'd steeds that draw thy ebon car,
And heave athwart the sky
Thy starry-studded veil.

Come not with all thy horrors clad, thy heaps
Of threat'ning pitchy clouds, thy wasteful blasts
Which howling o'er the deep,
High swell the boisterous surge.

Far be the fearful forms that round thee float!
The owl shrill-shrieking, and the flitting bat,
And every ghastly shape
That frighten'd fancy spies!

But come with peaceful step, and o'er the land,
Parch'd by the sultry sun, thy coolness breathe,
And summer mists are shed
Upon the with'ring herb.

Let all be still — save the sweet note of her
Who warbles to thy steps, and the faint sound
Of yon tall trees that bend
Before thy swelling breeze.

Or from the distant mountain, whose huge crags
Are pil'd to heaven, let echo feebly send
The falling water's roar
Across the wide-spread lake.

Then will I hasten to the firm-built tower,
And climb its winding steps, and from the top
Gaze with a deep delight
On heaven's bright-burning fires;

While from the northern verge of ether shoot
The flickering tides of ever-changing light,
Now rolling yellow streams,
Now ting'd with glary red;

Pleas'd will I trace the meteor of the vale,
Which, smoothly sliding thro' its shining path
Sinks in its swampy bed,
And dims its fires in mist:

Descending 'midst the fields below I'll stray,
Where on the grass the quiet herds are stretch'd,
Mixing their fragrant breath
With freshen'd scents of flowers,

Or loitering on the brim of ocean, mark
The pale beams dancing on its curled waves,
While from the gleamy east
The moon begins her course;

Then slowly wandering to my peaceful home;
I'll seek my silent couch, and floating dreams
Shall feast my charmed soul
With airy scenes of bliss—

[pp. 220-22]