1812
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Evening.

Gentleman's Magazine 82 (September 1812) 264.

W. C. L.


An imitation of Milton's Il Penseroso, signed "W. C. L., Sept. 10, 1812." In this poem the sequence of events is rearranged, so that the Orpheus passage is placed at the opening of the poem, followed by an allustion to Sappho that perhaps suggests the writer is a woman. While the diction is of the period of composition, that sentiments are those of the eighteenth-century gothic: "Oft with trembling steps, and slow, | The pilgrim marks his way below. | Thro' shadowy vale, and gloomy dell, | Strange stories antient legends tell, | Such as oft at dead of night | Are whisper'd round the lamp's pale light." The companion poem to Morning was published in a few months later in the second supplement for 1812.



Thou! who thro' the darksome way
Of some lone grove, dost love to stray,
Where the world's din, at distance heard,
Is mock'd by Pallas' watchful bird;
And the pale moon, with trembling light,
Unfolds the shadows of the night;
Oh hail; nor now, inspiring Muse,
To breathe thy sober strain, refuse;
Such strain as once in Thracian grove,
Could trees and rocks and monsters move,
When Orpheus lost his blooming bride,
Fast bound by dark Cocytus' tide.
But he, for love, so sweetly sung
O'er Tartarus' black gulf, among
The list'ning Ghosts, that they awhile,
Forgetful of eternal toil,
Stood round; and as he told his woe,
Sighs seem'd to breathe, and tears to flow.

Or let me hear that mournful sound,
Which echoed, Leucate's rocks around;
When erst the Lesbian damsel sought
A cure for love, too dearly bought;
And sister Muses, near at hand,
Sang dirges o'er that dismal strand.

Or, it might better fitting be,
To rest beneath some spreading tree:
And there, from solitary seat,
To hear the ceaseless billows beat;
View the black sails that softly glide,
Along the promontory's side.

Or, sometime, from a tow'ring steep,
To mark how boundless waters sleep;
Waiting till Phoebus gently lave
His tresses in the golden wave.
Meanwhile the Ring-dove, Nature's child,
To twilight tunes her wood-notes wild.
Whose sound the patient angler knows,
As homeward late at eve he goes.
And let me hear the distant horn,
That wont to rouse the lagging morn,
Now in softer accents play,
To cheer the close of parting day.

Oft too sublime on Alpine brow,
While distant thunders roll below,
Place me on some turret high,
Right against the rushing sky;
Where sometime, the clouds between,
Sheets of liquid fire are seen.
And o'er the dark-brow'd parapet,
Centinels, together met,
Cautious whisper tales of fear,
Suiting well the timid ear;
Of signs which in the air of late,
To some foretell impending fate;
Of footsteps heard without a form,
Of noises echoing 'midst the storm.

Then let me think on ages gone,
Deeds of arms, and trophies won;
Banners streaming in the air,
Glitt'ring arms, and legions fair.
Think of battles where the Po,
With treach'rous murmur, glides below,
Like some peaceful stream that knows
No rougher sound, than shepherd's woes;
When Thyrsis on its bank complains,
In deep-drawn sighs, and dying strains.
It hath seen strange sights of yore,
Along its far resounding shore.
Civil blood, by discord shed,
Rage ruling wide in honour's stead.
Amid the murmurs of the night,
I seem to hear the din of fight;
And fancy, as the moon-beams glance,
The distant gleam of shield and lance.
Sudden turn'd to other view,
Fresh thoughts I trace, and pleasures new.
Here forests dark and wild appear;
There rocks their purple summits rear.
Forests fit for deeds of blood,
Rocks silver'd with the dashing flood.
Oft with trembling steps, and slow,
The pilgrim marks his way below.
Thro' shadowy vale, and gloomy dell,
Strange stories antient legends tell,
Such as oft at dead of night
Are whisper'd round the lamp's pale light,
Till ev'ry hearer looks aghast,
And dreads the howling of the blast.
Beneath each cross of stone on high,
The bones of murder'd wanderers lie.
Their ghosts are seen to flit around,
And hov'ring mark the hated ground.
While many a sigh, and many a shriek,
Ring thro' caves and mountains bleak.
Thus will the fancy love to stray,
'Till breaking clouds mark rising day;
Then from the sun's too piercing ken,
It shrinks, — but comes with night again.

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