1827
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Love, to be introduced in Collins's Ode on the Passions.

Poems on Various Subjects, by John Taylor, Esq. 2 Vols.

John Taylor Esq.


An undated fragment in couplets intended to complete William Collins's famous allegory on the passions. John Taylor was seventy years old when his collected poems were published in 1827; it may be that these lines were written at the peak of Collins's popularity in the 1790s.

Author's note: "Love, in Collins's Ode on the Passions, is mentioned incidentally, and unprovided with a musical instrument to express her emotions" p. 40.

John Langhorne in his memoir of Collins: "It is observable that none of his poems bear the marks of an amorous disposition, and that he is one of those few poets, who have sailed to Delphi, without touching at Cythera. The allusions of this kind that appear in his Oriental Eclogues were indispensable in that species of poetry; and it is very remarkable that in his Passions, an ode for music, love is omitted, though it should have made a principle figure there" Poetical Works of Mr. William Collins (1765) xv.



Next a fair form with modest gestures came,
Whose eyes were glist'ning with a lambent flame,
Gently she took the Harp, such as of yore,
The hallow'd Hebrew monarch bore,
And seem'd to touch it with a hand divine.
An awful silence soon prevail'd around,
Yet awe with pleasure was immingling found,
As if the sounds were from Religion's shrine.
When asked her name, she with a blush confest
'Twas LOVE, and then she ventur'd to protest
SHE only could inspire the female breast:
Declaring man felt not her purer fire,
But rather the wild flame of loose desire.
She claim'd from SERAPHIM her high descent,
And said her constant effort where she went,
Was still to regulate man's grosser kind,
And touch their breasts with sympathies refin'd,
That all on earth might know 'twas only LOVE
Could give a foretaste of the bliss above.
Truth then advanc'd from Music's simple cell,
For Truth with Harmony is fond to dwell,
Proclaiming LOVE, above all worldly art,
And scorning fabled CUPID'S pointless dart,
Chose her pure mansion in the female heart.

[2:39-40]