1766
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Ode to Content.

Gazetteer and New Daily Advertiser (14 August 1766).

J. M.


A retirement ode in five irregular Spenserians (ababccdD) signed "J. M.": "thou secluded lov'st to dwell, | Far from the idly busy scene, | Where in the hollow, moss grown cell, | The solitary sage is seen." The ode imitates Thomas Gray's Hymn to Adversity (1753) by inverting the theme; there are also verbal echoes of Milton's Il Penseroso. The poem was reprinted in the London Magazine for August.



Descend from Heaven! propitious Queen,
First-born, and best belov'd of Jove;
Whilst meek-ey'd Patience, Joy serene,
And tow'ring Hope — around thee move—
Descend! — at thy refulgent sight,
A tribe of woes compell'd to flight,
Submissive own thy potent sway,
Like airy clouds disperse, and leave a golden day.

Come, with rosy garlands crown'd,
And every golden flow'r that blows;
Scatter ambrosial odours round,
And all thy thousand sweets disclose.
With thee to dwell the tuneful Nine
Delight, and hail thy pow'r divine;
Their notes now more melodious rise,
Now the full concert swells, and clears the shining skies.

Hence, ye delights of sordid minds—
Begone the world's fantastic pride;—
Though solemn Queen of sober smiles,
Alone can'st bid each care subside;
And not of long descent or pow'r
Avail to win thy peaceful hour,
Thou spurn'st such visionary things,
The glitt'ring pomp of wealth, and purple pride of Kings.

No — thou secluded lov'st to dwell,
Far from the idly busy scene,
Where, in the hollow, moss-grown cell,
The solitary sage is seen.
Now! now with thee I seem to rove,
The gloomy glade, the waving grove,
Now climb the mountain's rugged brow,
Now tread the flow'ry vale that winds along below.

But ah! the flatt'ring, dear deceit
Which fancy form'd, dissolves away!—
And who shall shew thy sacred seat,
Or lead me through the doubtful way?
'Tis done! an heav'nly guide descends—
Hither beneficent she bends—
'Tis Reason's self, divinely fair,
Who points to Virtue's fane, and bids me find thee there.

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