1764
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Hymn to Melancholy.

London Magazine 33 (February 1764) 101.

Anonymous


The opening of this 1764 love elegy reworks the invocations of Milton's then-fashionable companion poems: "With thee for ever I'll abide, | Nor, gentle goddess, quit thy side, | Since then no chearful ray remains | Of Hope, to sooth a lover's pains" The poem is signed "Prometheus" and is "Inscribed to Miss A. Miller, of V." It is prefaced by an epigraph from Petrarch. The use of the octosyllabic measure in such an amorous context, like the title, is no doubt intended to evoke Il Penseroso.



O Melancholy, pensive maid,
Receive, within thy gloomy shade,
Th' unhappiest swain, e'er sought your aid!
To thee I'll mournful altars raise,
And, in sad dirges, sing thy praise.
To thy still groves and silent court
The wretched, of all times, resort:
And, when o'ercome by raging grief,
In thy calm precincts find relief.
With thee for ever I'll abide,
Nor, gentle goddess, quit thy side,
Since then no chearful ray remains
Of Hope, to sooth a lover's pains;
And 'tis decreed, and she must go;—
Then welcome, gloomy seat of woe!
Adieu the mirth inspiring smile,
And joys, that did my soul beguile:
Sweet pretty dreams of pleasure past,
Which I shall never, never taste!
Thou, Lord, who rul'st the spangled skies,
By whom the planets set and rise,
Great God, whom I with tears adore,—
O must I never see her more!
Alas! A few short minutes o'er
And Stella leaves her native shore!
Methinks I see the spreading sails,
Sad sight! impell'd by cruel gales,
Divide in waves the liquid plain,
And now scarce peeping o'er the main!
O Time, retard that baleful day,
Th' appointed term of Stella's stay!
The trembling culprit, (for his crime
To death condemn'd) thus dreads the time,
When, to avenge an injur'd land,
His country shall his life demand:
Thus, shuddering at each sound he hears,
Lives tortur'd by a thousand fears;
And, tho' he'll but the longer grieve,
Implores, like me, some small reprieve.
My Stella, since the fates decree,
That thou, dear maid, art dead to me;
This pray'r accept: "ye pow'rs divine,
For Stella every joy combine!
From Envy's rage preserve her free,
And biting Slander's enmity!
O may she, in each climate find,
A blessing, ne'er for me design'd,
With health of body, peace of mind!"

[p. 101]