1770 ca.
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Ode to Content.

Poetical Works of Anna Seward; With Extracts from her Correspondence. 3 Vols [Sir Walter Scott, ed.]

Anna Seward


An allegorical ode in four irregular Spenserians (ababcC). Walter Scott prints this undated poem with Anna Seward's juvenilia. The "Ode to Content" derives from two of Seward's favorite poets, expressing Horatian sentiments in Miltonic diction. "Honora" is Honora Sneyd.

Anna Seward to George Gregory: "Gray was a mole to Rousseau. — Darwin is a mole to Milton, and that you will say is indeed a 'molism.' Envy made Johnson a mole to all our best poets, except Dryden and Pope. You are a mole to Sterne; — and I — for why should not my portly self run in amongst you intellectually greater folk? — I am a mole to Spencer, so far at least, that, though I perceive the power of his genius in the mass, and infinitely admire particular passages, I could never read a book of the Fairy-Queen through, without being ennuied past bearing by the Hydra-headed allegories" 5 December 1787; Letters, ed. Scott (1811) 1:377-78.

Walter Scott: "The blank left in her domestic society [by the death of Anna Seward's sister] was supplied by the attachment of Miss Honora Sneyd, then residing in her family, and often mentioned in the ensuing volumes. This young lady was afterwards married to the ingenious Mr. Edgeworth" Poetical Works (1810) 1:ix.



Mild as the star-beam on the silent wave,
Soft as the tints of yon etherial bow,
That bends its bright arch o'er the dark concave,
And bids the storm its destined limit know,
Do thou, Content, with equal step sedate,
Rise o'er the mind's dim clouds, and break the storms of Fate!

O! welcome as the spirit of the morn,
Whose diamond eyes prelude a golden day,
Choir'd by the linnets from the blossom'd thorn,
The green hill yellowing in her dewy ray,
As o'er its timid bosom soft she glides,
Silvering the winding rill, that warbles down its sides!

While, with a loosen'd zone, gay Pleasure strays,
Crowning with rosy wreaths the frolic hours,
While busy Fame collects immortal bays,
And Hope reclines in amaranthine bowers,
Round thee, Content, health-breathing sweets exhale,
As crops thy gentle hand yon lilies of the vale.

On fair HONORA may thy influence shine
For her thy cheek with purest blushes glow!
More does she prize one halcyon plume of thine
Than all that decks Ambition's jewel'd brow.
Near her may thy light steps perpetual rove
With the associate forms of Fancy, Truth, and Love!

[1:74-75]