1788
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Ode to Chearfulness.

Gentleman's Magazine 58 (May 1788) 444-45.

W. P.


An imitation of Milton's L'Allegro in nine lyric stanzas, signed "W. P." The poet asks, "Sweet Chearfulness! where dost thou dwell? | In valley, grove, or mossy cell, | Where shall I meet thy face?" After considering several possibilities, he resolves to dwell with Chearfulness in her temple, shaded by "The Druid's sacred tree." The manner and measure is that of Collins's Ode to Pity.



Sweet buxom Nymph, a foe to Care
To Sorrow, Grief, and black Despair,
And form'd to give delight;
With blooming Fancy by thy side,
And Wit, proud as an eastern bride,
Where splendor strikes the sight;

Oh, thou that fir'st the Poet's page,
And deck'st the writings of the Sage,
With sprightly Attic grace;
Sweet Chearfulness! where dost thou dwell?
In valley, grove, or mossy cell,
Where shall I meet thy face?

What! shall I climb the mountain's brow?
And dauntless view the vale below,
Unaw'd by pallid Fear;
Sweet Goddess! strike thy airy lyre
With all thy force and native fire,
And I will listen there.

The wretch, who o'er the midnight bowl
Absorbs the feelings of his soul,
And roves from Reason's way,
When lost amid the sweets of wine,
May think his boisterous mirth is thine,
And all his wit display.

Or he, who wrapt in robes of state,
Possessing all the smile of Fate,
Vain transitory gleam!
He too may think t' enjoy thy charms,
But clasps a phantom in his arms,
He 'wakes — 'tis but a dream.

If right I ween, thou lov'st the vale,
To listen to the shepherd's tale,
And soothe the pangs of life;
In sweet Contentment's mossy cell,
With happy swains thou lov'st to dwell,
Far from the haunts of strife.

The Elves, the guardians of the night,
Shall hear thy music with delight,
And listen to thy song;
Oft shall they through the valley stray,
Brushing the pearly dew away,
And dance the evening long.

Sweet Nature's charms, the blooming spring,
When high in air the lark shall sing,
Celestial Maid! are thine;
Led by the healthful breeze of morn,
The sportsman, with his echoing horn,
Shall gambol at thy shrine.

And if thy temple rears its head,
Where shady oaks their foliage spread,
The Druid's sacred tree;
Then, gentle Nymph, thy airy dome
Shall ever be my peaceful home,
And I will dwell with thee.

[pp. 444-45]