1813
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Morning. An Ode.

Gentleman's Magazine 83 (October 1813) 367-68.

Cornelius Webbe


Seventeen blank-verse quatrains signed "C. F. W." A year later the poem was republished in the New Monthly Magazine signed "C. F. Webb" and titled "An Ode. — In imitation of Collins's Ode to Evening." In a common device, Webbe inverts Collins's scheme, writing an ode to Morning rather than to Evening. The development of the poem differs, however, leading into a seires of alternating descriptive and allegorical stanzas, in which the Morning is transmuted into the allegorical figure of Fancy: "Thou of the eye of all creative pow'r, | Whose smiles are magic, and whose words are fire, | Come, and be thou my guide, | To Fiction's fairy bow'rs." William Blake had pursed a similar scheme in To Spring, with much more condensation and powerful metaphorical suggestion.

This poem, an obvious link between Della Cruscan and Cockney poetry, is of some interest as an early product of Leigh Hunt's coterie of poets at Hampstead. Webbe was five years Hunt's junior, and five years Keats's senior. No biography of Webbe seems to have been recorded, and little is known of him. An elegy also published in the New Monthly Magazine suggests that Webbe may have known Henry Kirke White, as it is dated 1806, prior to the publication of Southey's biography. Webb achieved a kind of shadowy notoriety when Blackwood's Magazine published some of his manuscript verses at the head of the first article in its infamous "On the Cockney School of Poetry" series: "Our talk shall be (a theme to never tire on) | Of Chaucer, Spenser, Shakespeare, Milton, Byron, | (Our England's Dante) — Wordsworth — HUNT, and KEATS, | The Muses's son of promise; and of what feats | He yet may do." In 1820 Webbe published Sonnets, Amatory, Incidental, & Descriptive; with other Poems.

Robert Shelton Mackenzie: "Cornelius Webbe, a London writer, author of Glances at Life, Sonnets, &c." Noctes Ambrosianae, ed. Mackenzie (1854) 1:264n.



Now Morn is risen from her cloud-form'd couch,
And, as she opes the curtains of the day,
Myriads of dewy gems
Are shed o'er this fair World.

And now her tuneful chorister, the Lark,
Outstrips the speed of Eolus' swift wings,
And, with undaunted eye,
Surveys her beauties bright.

She comes, the peerless bride of royal Day,
In all the splendour of an orient queen;
The bliss-bestowing Hours,
Refresh'd, around her move.

All hail to thee! maid of the blushing cheek,
The eye of blue, with fringed lid of gold;
And of the snowy feet,
Dispersing nightly dews.

Full welcome are thy cheerful smiles to me;
For I abhor the dreary hours of Night,
Whose hands of dusky hue
Throw o'er my joys a shade.

But thy full-beaming and all-brightning eye
Is the rich star of all my youthful hopes,—
With an unerring light,
Guiding to Pleasure's paths.

And see, the Mother of the dimpled Joys,
(Whose pow'r can smooth the Stoic's rugged brow,)
With a much-meaning smile,
Now wooes me to her fane.

Behold young Laughter, with distended mouth,
Comes in her train, urging on sullen Spleen,
Who, ever and anon,
Murmurs forth vengeful threats;

But meek Forbearance, with beseeching look,
And a restraining hand, steps forth his friend:—
At her approach, the crowd
Shrink silently aback.

But hark! the horn now breathes its tuneful notes,
The sons of Exercise inviting to the chace,
From her deep rocky cell
Echo gives back the sound;

And sprightly Health, with limbs which warmly flush,
Glides with a fairy fleetness thro' the vale,
Brushing away the pearl
That decks each flower's head.

The freshen'd flowers, awaken'd from repose,
Diffuse their plenteous stores of luscious sweets;
And Zephyrs hover 'round,
Inhaling their rich breaths.

But who is she that mounts yon craggy height?
'Tis high-puls'd Fancy, Nature's wildest child!
Her eye full swiftly roves,
And eke her lightsome feet.

Thou of the eye of all-creative pow'r,
Whose smiles are magic, and whose words are fire,
Come, and be thou my guide,
To Fiction's fairy bow'rs!

And I will cull from Poesy's fair groves
A wreath of brightest gems, thy brow to grace,
There ever it will bloom,
Nor aught of fragrance lose.

Wand'ring o'er Nature's wilds, 'till noon's approach,
Then we will seek some cavern's cooling shade,
That I may trace thy page,
And gain thy sacred fire.

Then haste thee, Nymph! come, for thy lover calls;
And I will brace my much-neglected lyre,
To sing thy wond'rous pow'rs,
And never-fading charms!

[pp. 367-68]