1794
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Ode for the New Year.

Morning Post (7 January 1794).

Mary Robinson


An alleogrical ode in five regular stanzas, written in the manner of William Collins. In Mary Robinson's poem the figure of Hope, anticipating the coming conflict with France, makes her appeal to a sequence of figures: "Oh! NATURE! Fairest Child of JOVE! | Return once more, in all thy charms, | And let soft PEACE, and HUMAN LOVE, | Subdue the fateful rage of Arms!" In the latter decades of the eighteenth century it became increasingly common for "volunteer laureates" to publish new year's and birthday odes in the newspapers.



While in the misty-mantled sphere,
Embattled sounds Heav'ns concave shake;
In vain, Soft HOPE, her standard rears,
Amidst th' o'erwhelming clouds opake!
Now, hurrying o'er Cerulean plains sublime,
She seeks the confines of th' ethereal clime!
For, banish'd from those dark domains,
Where howling Desolation reigns;
No more her radiant crest illumes
This whirling ORB'S disastrous space;
She flies the hapless sinking race,
And fades from human eye, in Fate's impervious glooms.

Now, o'er the crimson'd plains, appear
The glitt'ring faulchions stain'd with gore:
Now o'er the vast of waters drear,
The mimic thunders madly roar:
The flashing fires illume the angry deep,
While the blue lightnings o'er the billows sweep!
At length the gladsome SUN flames wide,
And NATURE smiles, in glorious pride;
But soon she bends her eyes below,
And, wond'ring, listens to the sound
That frantic ECHO flings around;
Heart-piercing sighs of Pain, and deep'ning GROANS OF WOE!

Then, from her Light-encircled Car,
She drops Compassion's holy tear;
Shrinks from the frenzied gaze of WAR,
And hastens from the prospect drear!
Swift, to the golden portal of the skies,
Distracted NATURE, shrieking, trembling, flies!
And bending at the Throne of Grace,
Bewails the lost devoted race,
Led forth to feed insatiate ire!
With blood to moisten Earth's cold breast,
While Giant FURY rears his crest,
And urges on the storm, and BREATHES CONSUMING FIRE!

Then to the Angel PEACE, she hies—
Where driv'n from Earth, she weeps and mourns,
Where, at her feet, wan PITY lies,
And LOVE, whose torch, but dimly burns!
For ah! the VIRTUES shun the dreadful rage,
Where MAN with MAN, like TYGERS fierce, engage!
And all that wakes the feeling mind,
By REASON'S energies refin'd,
Start wild! aghast! while pale DESPAIR,
Hurrying across the carnag'd scene,
With bloodshot eyes, and haggard mien,
Cleaves with her piercing yells, the SULPHUR-THICKEN'D AIR!

Oh! NATURE! Fairest Child of JOVE!
Return once more, in all thy charms,
And let soft PEACE, and HUMAN LOVE,
Subdue the fateful rage of Arms!
Restore to erring MAN that sainted Grace,
Which bids meek MERCY spare the hapless race:
Then shall ALL HEAVEN with THEE combine,
To dark around its beams Divine!
And wither all the weeds of PAIN!
While the proud OLIVE, spreading wide,
And dropping Balm on ev'ry side,
Shall FORM A GLORIOUS BOWER OF FREEDOM'S BLEST DOMAIN!

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