1796
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

To Solitude.

Gentleman's Magazine 66 (October 1796) 863-64.

Dr. William Perfect


William Perfect's imitation of Il Penseroso, reducing discursive matter to the minimum, is almost entirely a catalogue of images: "Ev'ry woodbine, ev'ry bush, | Ev'ry note of lark or thrush, | Ev'ry hill and ev'ry dale, | Ev'ry odour-yielding gale, | Ev'ry object, though minute, | Smallest blade and embryo fruit, | Goodness infinite display, | Bright Effulgence! pour thy ray." Dr. Perfect knew Christopher Smart, whose later verse is possibly an influence here. He is possibly the author of the long series of poems in the Gentleman's Magazine dated from "Malling," where Perfect had his practice.



Daughter of serenest joy!
Pleasures which can never cloy,
Peace, the rose of sweet Content,
Time in meditation spent,
Ev'ry gift the Virtues bring
Sits enthron'd upon thy wing.
Wert thou rightly understood,
Soul elating Solitude!
Were thy charms more fully known,
Would Ambition beg a throne?
Would unthinking mortals grow
Fond of pomp, or wealth, or show?
Airy nothings they'd deride;
Court thee for their sober guide;
Stray with thee to yonder plain,
Crown'd with worship's pious fane.
Leaving empty mirth and noise,
Haste to share substantial joys;
Hand-in-hand with thee to rove
Through the sweetly-checquer'd grove,
Where the unmolested hours,
Sacred to the sylvan Pow'rs;
Intellectual pleasures there
Bosoms warm'd by friendship share.
Call Reflexion to our aid,
Partial to the lonely shade:
See! she comes, divinely fraught;
Fancy, with her lucid thought,
Humble, yet exalted high
Purest transports to descry;
Contemplation, pensive fair,
Solitude, be mine to share;
Prune my mind, expand thy wing,
To thy sanc'try Damon bring.
Nature's dress'd in summer's charms;
Ev'ry landscape Phoebus warms;
Ev'ry landscape, rival scene,
Smiles, bedeck'd in ev'ry green.
Purify my grateful breast;
Let the donor shine confess'd.
All the blossoms, ev'ry rose,
The creative hand disclose;
All the meadows, ev'ry field,
Varied admiration yield;
Ev'ry woodbine, ev'ry bush,
Ev'ry note of lark or thrush,
Ev'ry hill and ev'ry dale,
Ev'ry odour-yielding gale,
Ev'ry object, though minute,
Smallest blade and embryo fruit,
Goodness infinite display,
Bright Effulgence! pour thy ray;
Be it to my lot decreed;
Solitude shall bless indeed!
Silence dozes on her breast;
Does the screech-owl break her rest?
Cynthia sheds her silver smile,
Glowing o'er the ivied pile;
Where, from care and sorrow free,
All's again tranquility.

Nurse of wisdom and repose,
Hid from life's ill-fated woes,
Lead me to thy sober shade,
By funereal cypress made,
By wasted tower, moss-clad wall,
Or where crystal currents fall
Of waters stealing under ground,
Ev'ry gloom above and round!
There my soul her tenor keeps;
Ev'ry earth-born trouble sleeps.

[pp. 863-64]