1755
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

An Autumnal Ode.

A Collection of Poems in four Volumes. By Several Hands. [Robert Dodsley, ed.]

Rev. Francis Fawkes


Five irregular Spenserians in the measure of Gray's Hymn to Adversity (ababccdD), here translated from the allegorical to the descriptive register. Francis Fawkes, who later republished the ode in his Poetical Calendar, an anthology based on a seasonal theme, employs the seasons as an allegory of life: "Such is of well-spent life the time, | When busy days are past; | Man, verging gradual from his prime, | Meets sacred peace at last: | His flowery Spring of pleasures o'er, | And Summer's full-blown pride no more, | He gains pacific Autumn, mild and bland, | And dauntless braves the stroke of Winter's palsied hand." "Hayman," not identified, is possibly the painter Francis Hayman (1708-76), president of the Society of Artists.



Yet once more, glorious god of day,
While beams thine orb serene,
O let me warbling court thy stay
To gild the fading scene!
Thy rays invigorate the Spring,
Bright summer to perfection bring,
The cold inclemency of Winter chear,
And make th' Autumnal months the mildest of the year.

Ere yet the russet foliage fall
I'll climb the mountain's brow,
My friend, my Hayman, at thy call,
To view the scene below:
How sweetly pleasing to behold
Forests of vegetable gold!
How mix'd the many checker'd shades between
The tawny mellowing hue, and the gay vivid green!

How splendid all the sky! how still!
How mild the dying gale!
How soft the whispers of the rill,
That winds along the vale!
So tranquil Nature's works appear,
It seems the Sabbath of the year;
As if, the Summer's Labour past, she chose
This season's sober calm for blandishing repose.

Such is of well spent life the time,
When busy days are past,
Man verging gradual from his prime,
Meets sacred Peace at last:
His flowery Spring of pleasures o'er,
And Summer's full-blown pride no more,
He gains pacific Autumn, mild and bland,
And dauntless braves the stroke of Winter's palsied hand.

For yet a while, a little while,
Involv'd in wintry gloom,
And lo! another Spring shall smile,
A Spring eternal bloom;
Then shall he shine, a glorious guest,
In the bright mansions of the blest,
Where due rewards on Virtue are bestow'd,
And reap the golden fruits of what his Autumn sow'd.

[4:280-81]