An Ode.

Scots Magazine 32 (December 1770) 672.


An imitation of Milton's L'Allegro and Penseroso. Perhaps, as the title implies, the poem, signed "Musaeus, Edinburgh" is an ode to nothing in particular. There is little of either argument or description: the poet banishes Fear and Doubt, casts aside tragic poetry, invokes the spirit of Comus and his friend Jessy, and resolves to seize the moment. The point of the rhapsody would seem to be rhapsody itself: "Sweet Nature's song alone can please, | That flows with unaffected ease; | The barren strains of lab'ring Art, | Can never touch the feeling heart."

Hence, Fear, with all your horrid train!
Of monsters dire, and shadows vain,
That catch the ill-directed mind,
And fast in iron fetters bind.
Ill-form'd, unshapen Doubt, be gone;
Some region seek to me unknown.
There all thy sceptic art unfold,
To this nor that opinion hold;
Assume each odd, fantastic mood,
Like Proteus in the briny flood;
Now bent on that, for this now seem,
As equal matter turns the beam.
Away! your empire I disdain!
Be gone with all your hated train!

Let but the Muse to me impart
Some knowledge of the tuneful art,
Fast I deliver to the wind
All that disturb the peaceful mind,
To waft afar to Zembla's coast,
Condemn'd to everlasting frost.
And even, Melpomene, thy song
I shun, no more thy notes prolong:
Self-eating Care, and Sorrow fell,
Oft in thy sweetest measures dwell.

Undaunted Resolution come;
Oh! deign with me to make your home:
Come, with that bold unalter'd brow
Which you in greatest dangers show;
You, who unmov'd can view the storm,
With blackening clouds all heaven deform;
The mustering tempest swell the deep,
'Till waves the angry Welkin sweep;
Hear thunders rend the vaulted sky,
And see the vollied lightning fly:
You, undismay'd in evil hour,
Can scorn th' unfeeling tyrant's power,
Though lawless rage the sword shou'd wield,
And carnage fill th' ensanguin'd field:
Come, all your power to me impart,
And give the bold and dauntless heart.

Hail, Comus, ever blithe and gay,
Soul of the heart-rejoicing lay,
Dear God of Mirth and honest Joy,
Come! every painful thought destroy.
My Jessy too must join your train;
Without her ev'ry sport were vain;
Vain ev'ry joy that Nature yields,
The tuneful grove, or flowery fields.
For her, ye nymphs, a garland bring,
Compos'd of all the pride of spring,
Deck'd with the art of all the Nine:
This round her modest brow entwine;
That brow to self-conceit unknown,
Affected prudery's gloomy frown.
Disdain ne'er knew that happy place:
Enthron'd in all her native grace,
Fair Freedom there has fix'd her seat,
And reigns inimitably sweet.
She comes: — Now strike the tuneful lyre
With notes which only joy inspire.
Sweet Nature's song alone can please,
That flows with unaffected ease;
The barren strains of lab'ring Art,
Can never touch the feeling heart.

While Music thus her voice shall raise
In sweetest notes to Jessy's praise,
Light-footed fly the dance along,
Responsive to the joyful song.
Thus let us pass the fleeting hour;
The present's only in our power.
Thus grateful seize the moments given,
The gift of ever-bounteous Heaven.
Since dark, amid the searchless gloom
Of future date, poor mortals doom
Lies undisclos'd to human ken,
And scorns the fruitless toil of men.

[p. 672]