1811
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Ode to Contemplation.

The Poetical Magazine 4 (1811) 298-300.

J. N.


An imitation of Milton's L'Allegro and Penseroso signed "J. N." The writer deliberately mixes Milton's characters, sometimes to rather odd effect: "Here, on some embowered seat, | I will sit and ruminate; | While the milkmaid o'er the lea | Is singing blithe and merrily." The fact that the Poetical Magazine, which consisted entirely of verse, could survive to complete four annual volumes is indicative of just how much interest in amateur poetry had grown over the previous half-century. It was published by Rudolph Ackermann (1764-1834), who would later play a key role in the development of the literary annual.



Holy maid, of modest mien,
Who with pensive tread art seen,
Distant from the busy throng,
Pacing the shady grove along;
Or beneath some spreading tree,
When the bells sound merrily
O'er the vale the village glee;—
Guide my solitary feet
To thy peaceful blest retreat,
Where the thicket's bushy maze
Closes on the hallowed place;
By the mountain's hollow side
Mocking sound with Echo wide;—
Contemplation! thou canst give,
Sweet delights, that ever live!

When the joy-inspiring horn
Ushers in the early morn,
I will climb the high ascent,
On meditative thoughts intent.
Now the rising god of day
Smiles upon the uplands gray;
Each genial ray the mist dispels,
And by degrees the prospect swells;—
Now a tower, now a tree,
Piercing the mizzy shade, I see;
Meeds and lawns beneath I view,
Flowers all besprent with dew;
Beauteous sun and fairy scene,
While sweet Aurora breathes between,
As wont with Flora fair to play,
And spread the fragrant sweets of May,
At dawn of Nature's holiday.
On the green boughs the feathered throng
Charm me with their matin song.
How sweet, at dappled morn, to rove,
With thee the mountain steep above!

When upon the western sky
Evening opes her purple eye,
Lead me to some verdant nook,
By the crystal-gliding brook,
Murmuring thro' underwood,
Which the stream hath long withstood:—
Here, on some embowered seat,
I will sit and ruminate;
While the milkmaid o'er the lea
Is singing blithe and merrily;
And to the maiden of the hill
The shepherd tunes his wild note shrill.

Welcome to thee the season blest
When tired Nature sinks to rest;
When the village din is o'er,—
Flail or cart is heard no more;
When the woodman seeks his cot,
Contented with his humble lot;
When last the swinging wicket creeks,
Till the dawn to-morrow breaks;—
Then beside the woodland shade
Slowly and unseen I tread,
To hear the lonely nightingale
Charm the silence of the vale;
And behold Night's faint-ey'd queen,
Robed in her silver sheen,
Peeping thro' clouds that broken fly,
Or beaming full in sober sky;
Till the knell at solemn hour
Bid me rove abroad no more.
These delights thou can't bestow
In their pure untainted flow!

Come, Contemplation, holy maid!
Lead me to thy lonely shade,
Twined with mantling ivy round,
Clothed with moss the rural ground,—
Far from Folly's airy train,
Or the eye of cold Disdain;
Retreat of Solitude and Ease!
Shade of balmy-winged Peace!
Here I woo with thee to dwell,
And taste the pleasures of thy cell!

[pp. 298-300]