1791
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Ode to Poetry.

European Magazine 20 (September 1791) 224.

Mary Dawes Blackett


An irregular ode, after Milton's companion poems, inscribed to "R. Cosway, Esq." Richard Cosway (1740-1821) was a drawing master and member of the Royal Academy. After a salute to Cosway, the Ode remembers an unidentified Horatio, who admired poetry, and describes a brief series of poetic scenes. Nothing is apparently known of Mary Dawes Blackett, who published two volumes of poetry.



Come Poesy, divinely fair!
Hither, enchanting nymph, repair!
Haste! bring thy choicest lyre along,
To Cosway breathe thy choicest song;
His kindling bosom owns thy claims;
His soul can feel thy measur'd strains.
But mark me, Nymph! to win his ear,
The theme must be to Virtue dear:
From ev'ry vice, from ev'ry folly free,
Chaste as his pencil must thy numbers be.

Haste thee Nymph, then, let us rove
Through yon high o'er-arching grove;
There, while to the op'ning day
The woodland warblers pour their lay,
Let gratitude my soul inspire:
Or if, to shun the noontide heat,
I seek the shady cool retreat,
Lend me, Poesy, thy lyre.
Far from the glare of Courts, the haunts of fame—
Ah! let me there, beneath some spreading oak,
Whose sculptur'd rind still bears Horatio's name,
Oh! let me, gentle Nymph, thy aid invoke,
Then shall Mem'ry pour her strain,
A strain which oft Horatio sung,
When his manly bosom glowing,
Ev'ry ruder thought subdu'd,
He the Sage's theme pursu'd;
Or, with old Homer, o'er the plain
Pursu'd the Greek and Ilian train.
Or if a gentler theme he chose,
His voice in tender accents flowing,
And breathing notes of gay desire,
Tun'd to the dimpled God his lyre,
With so much art that lyre was strung,
That at its sound soft passion rose,
The soul itself his pow'r confest,
And mutual ardour warm'd each breast.

Oft too he soar'd on Meditation's wing,
And touch'd sublime a more exalted string.
Wilt thou at eve my footsteps lead
O'er the flow'r-enamel'd mead;
Or on yon high-rais'd antique tow'r
Pass with me the midnight hour?
Ah! together let us stray
Through the star-bespangled way;
Ev'ry step new worlds exploring;
All my soul her God adoring!
Give me then, Poesy, thy noblest fire,
And let me pour this Paean from my lyre.

But if from yonder frowning steep
My eye surveys the bois'trous deep,
As loud tumultuous billows roar
Against the cliff-defended shore;
And through th' impervious gloom of night
Pale meteors pour sulphureous light;
While the fiercely eddying wind
With terror fills th' expecting mind;
At such an hour shouldst thou be by,
List'ning to the seaman's cry,
Then throw thy tuneful lyre aside,
And with me bending o'er the tide,
Oh! stimulate my soul to save
The victim from the op'ning wave.

[p. 224]