1774
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

To Pleasure.

Town and Country Magazine 6 (May 1774) 270.

H. S.


An allegorical ode in nine saabcbc tanzas in the manner of Milton's L'Allegro, signed "H. S., Friday Street, May 12." The poem mounts a Christian defence of Pleasure by descriminating the virtuous article from "thou Syren fair! | Whose wanton smile, lascivious air, | Inspires the scene where Comus' train." Perhaps this poem is responding to an earlier Milton imitation, "The Picture of a Debauchee," published in the Town and Country Magazine in January 1773. This less common octosyllabic stanza is comprised of a couplet followed by a quatrain.



Hail Pleasure! goddess ever young,
To thee I tune my artless song!
Thou nymph divine! whose sacred power
Can all our mortal gifts asswage;
Thou bright'ner of life's gloomy hour,
Patron of youth, and friend of age.

Not thee I call, thou Syren fair!
Whose wanton smile, lascivious air,
Inspires the scene where Comus' train
In wanton mirth beguiles the hours,
Thy raptures end in shame and pain,
And pois'nous are thy sweetest flow'rs.

But come, bright nymph, with modest eye,
And bosom calm as summer's sky!
Sister of innocence, whose name
The great, the good, with joy revere;
Thine is the youthful poet's flame,
And thine the lays that steal the ear.

Oh! guide me from the lonely cell,
Where Care's pale vot'ries joy to dwell;
From deep'ning shades of cloister'd piles,
Where Melancholy loves to stray:
But lead me where bright Beauty smiles,
And all is innocent and gay.

Where'er I dart my raptur'd eyes,
Thy lovely scenes fair blooming rise;
Soft music breathes her notes around,
The tuneful linnets sing their loves;
The blackbird makes the woods resound,
And pleasure fills the ecchoing groves.

Survey this charmful scene around,
With good enrich'd, with beauty crown'd!
'Twas Wisdom plann'd the work divine,
He gave the sun's enliv'ning ray,
He form'd yon glitt'ring orbs to shine
Along th' etherial way.

All nature owns his fostering power,
His goodness shines in every flower:
To man he gave a reas'ning mind,
And made him of his works supreme;
Each good was for his use design'd,
Each sweet that flows in pleasure's stream.

Then let us not display our sails
To catch wild Passion's frantic gales:
By Virtue's shore the vessels steer,
For dang'rous is the ruffled main;
Toss'd on its waves what crouds appear,
False Pleasure's cheated train.

But Virtue all thy paths are peace,
And length of days thy joys increase;
True pleasure's thine, thou sacred name!
Without thee all is spleen and care;
Pale Vice destroys th' etherial flame,
That makes each scene of Beauty fair!

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