1793
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

To Solitude.

The Oracle (3 October 1793).

Lady Catherine Rebecca Manners


A retirement ode consisting of thirteen quatrains in the octosyllabic meter of Milton's L'Allegro. The author was a woman of fashion: "Come with modest, easy mien, | Unconstrain'd by modish art, | Blooming cheek, and eye serene, | Tranquil mind, and spotless heart." Lady Manners alludes to her upbrining in Ireland. To Solitude attracted answering verses by Hannah Cowley in the same measure, pubished in The Oracle for 7 October. Cowley's lines seem intended as a "Penseroso" counterpart to Manners's poem: "She ponders on the mould'ring Walls, | Marks where crumbled Arches lie; | Trembles as the grey Mass falls— | As the gothick wonders fly."

Headnote: "What follows is an effusion from the cultivated mind of Lady Manners. That we are thus distinguished as the medium through which so much polished sense and fancy meet the public eye, is an honour which we are proud to acknowledge."



Solitude, celestial maid,
Once again to thee I bow,
And beneath the beechen shade
Pour to thee my ardent vow.

Mingled with the worldly crowd,
Thee my heart has still ador'd;
Nor could Pleasure's revels loud
E'er to me one joy afford.

Come then, with that form divine,
Such as in Ierne's isle,
While I heap'd thy rustic shrine,
Oft you deign'd on me to smile.

Come with modest, easy mien,
Unconstrain'd by modish art,
Blooming cheek, and eye serene,
Tranquil mind, and spotless heart.

Spread new verdure o'er the plain,
Add fresh odours to the breeze;
Crown the feather'd songster's strain
With unwonted melodies.

Lead me thro' yon waving grove,
Where the thicket boughs unite;
'Mid its mazes let me rove,
Wrapt with thee from mortal sight.

And from thy sequester'd cell
Bring the sober train along,
Who delight with thee to dwell,
Shelter'd from the guilty throng:

Meditation, pensive fair,
Deep immers'd in thought profound;
Leisure with unruffled air,
Pacing careless o'er the ground:

Active Health and ruddy face,
Bounding thro' the woodlands wild;
Beauty with unstudied grace;
Temperance with carriage mild.

Happy they who ne'er have flown
From thy pure and gentle reign;
Happier who, life's quicksands known,
Rush to Peace and thee again.

For them sweeter seems the rose,
Clearer flows for them the stream;
Richer tints the groves disclose,
Brighter shines the morning beam.

From each vain delusion freed,
Passion's helpless slaves no more,
They, while fairer views succeed,
Smiling think on dangers o'er.

Thus the slumberer wrapt in night
Pines 'mid visions of distress—
But with the returning light
Wakes to real happiness.

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