1791
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Ode to Tranquility.

Genuine Poetical Compositions on Various Subjects. By E. Bentley.

Elizabeth Bentley


An imitation of Milton's Il Penseroso. Much of the poem consists of a train of allegorical personifications; after a passage recalling the visionary episode in Il Penseroso, the remaining third of the poem amplifies the concluding stanzas of Collins's Ode to Evening, including the personification of the four seasons: "And oft thy balmy pleasures prove; | When Spring, in verdant vest array'd, | Has each enliv'ning charm display'd; | When Summer spreads each glowing hue, | And beauteous paints the varying view, | Or milder Autumn breathes her dew. | But when bleak Winter's surly blast | O'er the bright scene his gloom shall cast." The poem is dated "April, 1791."



O! where, thou friend of mortals, say,
Dost thou thy placid charms display?
Thou with Innocence art join'd,
Empress of the spotless mind,
Thy fav'rite haunts, O Nymph belov'd!
Are far from busy Care remov'd;
Within the hermit's moss-grown cell,
Thou, undisturb'd, delight'st to dwell;
The stately palace oft wilt quit,
Beneath the peasant's roof to sit;
He tills, he sows the grateful soil,
And thou reward'st his useful toil.
Alike thou shun'st the thorny road
To wailing Sorrow's dark abode,
Or Superstition's gloomy cave,
(To Social Bliss a timeless grave)
And scorn'st to join the giddy throng,
Who, lur'd by Pleasure's syren song,
Rush to Vice's baneful arms,
Blind to Virtue's brighter charms:
Thou fly'st Indulgence as thy foe,
Whose flow'ry pathway leads to woe.
Health, Peace, and Temp'rance round thee wait,
And watchful Prudence guards thy gate;
Of each intrusive guest afraid,
Who might profane thy sacred shade.
Thy paths abound with fragrant bow'rs,
Adorn'd with sweet, umbrageous flow'rs,
Where, wrapt in thoughts divinely pure,
Calm Meditation sits secure.
Thy simple mansion charms the eye,
No gilded turrets beam on high;
But lowly shrubs thy seat surround,
And trees with verdant foliage crown'd;
The peaceful olive shades thy grove,
Beneath whose branches dwells the dove.
Here Solitude, unseen, may range,
Or Friendship mutual vows exchange;
Inspire the soul with Virtue's flame,
And point the path to spotless fame.
Here, beneath thy temp'rate sky,
Her infant pow'rs may Fancy try,
May plume her wings, prepare her lyre,
And soar to join the heav'nly choir.
Thy inmost walks O let me rove,
And oft thy balmy pleasures prove;
When Spring, in verdant vest array'd,
Has each enliv'ning charm display'd;
When Summer spreads each glowing hue,
And beauteous paints the varying view,
Or milder Autumn breathes her dew.
But when bleak Winter's surly blast
O'er the bright scene his gloom shall cast,
O let me in thy cottage find
Whate'er delights th' untainted mind:
For there the Graces oft retreat,
And there the sky-born Virtues meet;
Benevolence and social Joy
Shall there the pleasing hours employ;
Calm Contentment there abides,
And decent Piety presides;
Her aid harmonious Concord lends,
And smiling Chearfulness attends.
Whilst thus thou dost each bliss diffuse,
To thee, Tranquility, my Muse
Her constant sacrifice shall pay,
And joy to dwell beneath thy sway.

[pp. 64-66]