1745
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

An Ode to May.

London Magazine 14 (May 1745) 252.

Anonymous


In this ode in the measure of Milton's L'Allegro a catalogue of trees swerves abruptly into a catalogue of scenes from Shakespeare: "See where Shakespeare's scenes arise | To delight th' admiring eyes; | Where beneath the painter's hand| Blooms afresh th' inchanted land." The explanation, if such it is, is given in a note: "The Paintings in the Pavilion at Vaux-hall."



Fairest daughter of the day,
Lovely goddess, sprightly May,
Hither come, with roses crown'd,
Painting, where you tread, the ground:
At the lov'd approach of thee
Shoots the mulb'ry, tim'rous tree,
Vines their tender leaves unfold,
Nor the figtree dreads the cold:
Now the flowry lote is seen;
Last, the stately oak is green.

Nymph divine, behold the flow'rs
Rise to grace thy vernal hours:
Woodbinds spangled o'er with dew,
Deck their arborets for you:
Th' anemony of various dye,
Who, when either wind is high,
Hides her ever gentle face,
Opens to thy soft embrace:
See the purple Iris blow,
Tinged by the watry bow:
Tulips rear their glitt'ring heads;
Pinks adorn the fragrant beds;
And for thee the lilies swell,
And the golden asphodel.

Goddess, with thy vest of green,
Goddess, with thy youthful mien,
Come and bring thy mines of wealth,
Gladness and her parent health:
Bring along thy virgin train;
Chase away grim care and pain.
Now the Loves and Graces all
Throng obedient to thy call.
See where Shakespeare's scenes arise
To delight th' admiring eyes;
Where beneath the painter's hand
Blooms afresh th' inchanted land;
Where the injur'd Lear distress'd
Calls the sigh from ev'ry breast;
Torn from Love and Hamlet's arms,
There the lost Ophelia charms;
Harry, King of English birth,
Seems to call forth English worth,
Where th' harmonious tuneful choir
Wake to youthful May the lyre.

[p. 252]