1761
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Contemplation. An Ode.

Christian's Magazine; or, A Treasury of Divine Knowledge 2 (Supplement, 1761) 349-50.

Z.


This imitation of Milton's Il Penseroso, signed "Z," is part of the series of descriptive, as opposed to allegorical, odes. For the visionary episode of the original, the poet inserts some graveyard sentiments: "Or, at gloomy hour of day, | With me to the church-yard stray, | And meditate among the dead; | While the sexton plies his spade, | There peruse the time-worn stones, | Or, as he turns up human bones, | Think on what I soon must be, | Think on vast eternity." The poem was later disseminated through Fawkes and Woty's Poetical Calender.



Contemplation, lovely fair,
Far from scenes of noise and care,
Evermore delights to dwell
In the still sequester'd cell:
Lead me then, propitious pow'r,
To thy lonely, rural bow'r;
To the silent, shady wood,
To the riv'let's dimpling flood:
And, on summer mornings, lead
To the russet heath or mead:
To the cot's plain simple door,
The ploughman's peaceful, happy floor:
Where Phyllis brings her loaded pail,
And young affection lisps it's tale;
Lead to dusky lanes or shades,
Where tall oaks lift high their heads:
To the seat of happiness,
To the garden's lov'd recess;
Beds with pinks and roses gay,
The pride and boast of June and May.

Contemplation, nymph serene,
Guide to lawns, or uplands green,
Or near the promontory's side—
Let me hear the roaring tide,
Hear old ocean's wild waves roll;—
On the sad knell slowly toll,
Or, at gloomy hour of day,
With me to the church-yard stray,
And meditate among the dead;
While the sexton plies his spade,
There peruse the time-worn stones,
Or, as he turns up human bones,
Think on what I soon must be,
Think on vast eternity:
'Till torches dissipate the gloom,
And the sable mourners come;
'Till the venerable priest,
In his snowy surplice dress'd,
Loudly begins the solemn lines,
And "dust to dust," at length consigns.

Hail! matron lovely, tho' demure,
Ever chaste and ever pure,
Diffuse thy balm into my breast,
Bring with thee happiness and rest:
Sooth each melancholy sigh,
Teach me to live, and teach to die!

[pp. 349-50]