1763
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Ode to Spring.

Scots Magazine 25 (June 1763) 346-47.

Dr. S.


A particularly meandering and digressive imitation of Milton's L'Allegro that substitutes the seasonal for the original diurnal theme: "Where-e'er the blushing goddess moves, | Her smile, her touch, creative proves. | Beneath the splendour of her eyes | New infant-forms of beauty rise. | Nature all life and transport seems, | And earth with births impatient teems" p. 346. Spring brings a particularly lengthy train of companions: Fancy, Content, Music, Peace, Health, Philanthropy, Charity, Friendship, Pity, Taste, Love, Meekness, Humility, Hope, Silence, Modesty, Candor, Sympathy, Contemplation, Solitude, Wisdom, and Melancholy. The poem is signed "Dr. S.," a regular contributor to the Scots Magazine.



Now Spring, of seasons gentle queen,
In flow'ry mantle rob'd of green;
Her locks in beauteous ringlets spread,
And rainbows circling round her head;
From southern climes, which shar'd erewhile
The vital sunshine of her smile;
Upon a sun-beam gilded cloud,
While grateful nature shouts aloud,
Approaches; led by jocund Mirth,
To give ten thousand objects birth;
Sparkling her eye, her aspect sweet,
All nature pure beneath her feet;
Approaches, to alight anon,
Winter with all his tempest gone;
To bid the month divided year
Begin its downy wing'd career.
Awake the reed, the dance awake,
And call creation to partake,
While various tasks and scenes employ,
Of universal wealth and joy.

The virgin-choir of Graces bland,
Each with a rose-bud in her hand,
With dimpled cheeks in vermeil dy'd,
Attend their queen on either side.
Around her sportive Cupids dance,
Bending their bows with wanton glance,
With various signs and various arts,
Soon to surprise a thousand hearts.
Plump buxom Plenty, pleas'd Content,
And Peace, on gentlest errand sent;
Gay social Ease, and Friendship kind,
Make up her smiling train behind:
While Music with her warbling lute,
All in attentive silence mute.
Thro' air in undulations toss'd,
With gradual cadence gently lost,
Swells the impassion'd note before,
Sweetly repeated o'er and o'er.
Hov'ring aloft in liquid sky,
She views the earth with anxious eye,
To see thro' all its wide extent,
What change each place has underwent;
Where Winter's triumphs most appear,
To blast the sun-abondon'd year,
(Rude tyrant thron'd on hills of snow),
There most her favours to bestow.
She views, and thro' the blue expanse
Bids the bright lord of day advance;
Bids Winter's gloom, the sky that shrouds,
Quick vanish into fleecy clouds;
Commands the snows to fall no more,
And colds to give their freezings o'er;
Restrains the torrents of the sky,
Soft dews their fury to supply;
Forbids the angry storm to rage,
While lawless elements engage,
But, hush'd to silence by degrees,
To imitate the fanning breeze.
Thus all her mild commands express'd,
To her arrival left the rest;
Strait from a lucid cloud that bends,
She with her jovial court descends;
While Zephyr breathes around, and flings
Ambrosial odours from her wings.
Some of her light etherial train
Frequent the lilly broider'd plain,
Pleas'd to survey on ev'ry side
The variegated prospect wide.
Some to the hill's aerial height
To bend their upward steps delight,
And there, no vapours foul to wreathe,
In elemental pureness breathe.
Some to the river's shady banks,
Where wild goats wanton o'er their pranks,
When noon-tide heats infest the air,
With fond alacrity repair.
Others, amid the grove's lone walk,
With fancied forms affect to talk;
Echoes, that deep in caves reside,
And Zephyrs that in whispers glide:
While numbers in the osier shade,
For tender scenes of rapture made,
Attune to love the sylvan reed,
And chide each moment's forward speed.

Where-e'er the blushing goddess moves,
Her smile, her touch, creative proves.
Beneath the splendour of her eyes
New infant-forms of beauty rise.
Nature all life and transport seems,
And earth with births impatient teems.
The woods in waving foliage clad,
The fields with checquer'd carpets spread;
The brook late swell'd from melting hills,
Gliding along in silver rills;
The meadows stock'd with flocks and herds,
The copses throng'd with warbling birds:
Shepherds and nymphs, in parties met,
With rosy cheeks and eyes of jet;
In social strains prepar'd to sing
The charms of Nature and of Spring,
With hearts elate and looks serene,
Beyond what raptur'd poets feign.

Now from the city's noisy streets,
Where Care with Grandeur ever meets,
The winter-prison'd croud repair,
With Spring soft rural scenes to share;
Amply to gain, in rosy health,
What they had forfeited for wealth.
Such hapless man's peculiar fate,
Nor rich alike in all, nor great!
If in one article he thrives,
And one alone, howe'er he strives,
In others, for so Heav'n decrees,
His sudden ill-success he sees!
Nor blame the justice of the skies;
One falls, and hence a thousand rise.
Nought but the partial love of gain
Could them in noise and smoke detain;
Save Spring's glad call no fond pretence
Could court their loit'ring footsteps hence.

But, more supremely charm'd than those,
Julia the fair enamour'd goes
The ever-lovely dame to meet,
With brow as mild and aspect sweet;
Breath that partakes of her perfume,
And cheek that emulates her bloom;
By the green margin of a stream,
That sparkles to the pointed beam;
Beneath some ag'd romantic oak,
Where thoughtful bards the muse invoke;
Up some fair eminence, from whence
The landscape is survey'd immense;
In some close copse, or woodbine shade,
Or o'er some lawn, or upland glade;
Some level vista's measur'd walk,
Or deep recess where echoes talk;
Where wakeful Philomele complains,
And linnets warble forth their strains;
Where airy Fancy strays alone
In calm retirements of her own,
And, though apart from human kind,
Can company and converse find.
Nor she alone charm'd with the year,
It too with her would pleas'd appear.
Her presence adds a grace to Spring,
While softer all her warblers sing;
Each object, in advance she meets,
Exhibits all its choicest sweets;
Beauty her fairest form assumes,
More gaily smiles, or deeper blooms.

She goes! but not to entertain
The recollection light or vain,
Or, by Spring's native charms uncaught,
Idly to roam for want of thought.
Far other laurels she demands
From Virtue's consecrated hands;
Far other suffrages of praise,
Than Vice bestows, or Folly pays.

Her mute companions most admir'd,
By life's disgusting sameness tir'd,
Are Innocence in vestment white,
And Fancy borne on pinion light;
Content, still forward to rejoice,
And Music with her love-tun'd voice;
Peace, with pleas'd brow and aspect calm,
And Health with breath of fragrant balm;
Philanthropy, of boundless view,
And Charity as boundless too;
Friendship, that scorns each false disguise,
And Pity, with tear-trickling eyes;
Taste, of quick sense and feeling just,
And Love, that knows no mean disgust;
Meekness, of feature mildly sweet,
Fond with Humility to meet;
Gay Hope, whose looks a transport wear,
And Silence with attentive ear;
Fair Modesty, that loves to walk,
No eye to see, no tongue to talk;
Candor, the rough told tale that smooths,
And Sympathy, that kindly soothes;
Lone Contemplation ready-pac'd,
And Solitude, in glooms solac'd;
Wisdom, that draws the veil from Folly,
And with the Muse sweet Melancholy:
With such associates she retires,
Traces their steps, their haunts admires;
With them her pensive hours employs,
And, though alone, the world enjoys.

Oh! when her wonted roams she takes,
While ev'ry sense to joy awakes,
Whether to yonder green alcove,
Yon belvedere, or spacious grove;
Or fine slop'd hill, that overlooks
Flocks, shepherds, villas, woods, and brooks;
Or shadowy vale, or sunny glade,
Or lime tree row's imbow'ring shade;
Or gay parterre, or terrace-walk,
Grac'd with each flow'r of courtly stalk;
Or grotto cool, or arcade green,
Or wilderness, with seats between:
Propitious may the sylvan muse,
In her own lov'd retreats she wooes,
While fields their richest tints assume,
And op'ning rose-buds round her bloom,
Her gentlest votary inspire,
And warm her with celestial fire!
May ev'ry rural scene she views,
With Wisdom lone retir'd to muse;
Whether the azure-mantled sky,
The wood, or brook that murmurs by;
The rising hill, or meadow green,
Where shepherds with their flocks convene;
The colonnade, or tow'r-grac'd wall,
The temple, or steep water-fall;
The orchard, in full glory blown,
Or parks, with bladed wealth o'ergrown;
Or flow'r-plot, where carnations bloom,
And gales their balmy wings perfume:
May all, with inspiration stor'd,
Some sentimental joy afford!
Some hint, by study vainly sought,
Some happy flight, some pleasing thought!

[pp. 346-47]