1812
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Morning.

Gentleman's Magazine 82 (Supplement to Part II, 1812) 641.

W. C. L.


An imitation of Milton's L'Allegro signed "W. C. L." This is a companion poem to the same writer's Evening, published in the Gentleman's Magazine in the previous October. Like its predecessor, this descriptive ode lingers over classical scenes, though in the conclusion poet's fancy looks homewards: "Thus soaring high, the milkmaid's strain | Has brought me to myself again. | The lowing cow, the cawing rook, | And bees that seek you flow'ry nook; | The whistling ploughman, broke the charm, | And leave me now to pleasures calm." Miltonic poems like this, which had been staples of periodical poetry columns since the 1750s, were becoming scarcer by 1812. The circle had turned, and the formal imitation of English poets was once again chiefly limited to burlesque and parody.

Headnote: "Mr. Urban, The following verses are by the same hand, as those published in p. 264, under the title 'Evening;' and are intended as a companion to that performance. W. H. L."



Hence foolish care, and sorrow vain!
Ye bring no meed but empty pain.
No more will I, like wand'ring sprite,
Haunt the lone silence of the night;
To seek in shades, and twilight groves,
Such thoughts as Melancholy loves.
For lo! where, like a blushing bride,
Aurora leaves Tithonus' side;
In some close wood or cavern nigh,
To hide her from the Sun's bright eye.
While rising larks do blythely sing,
And, smiling meadows greet the Spring.
A thousand dew-bent flow'rs are seen
To raise their heads upon the green.
And sweetly ev'ry hill resounds,
With cry of hunters, and of hounds,
As if Diana's self were there
With all her Nymphs; a huntress fair.
And thro' the Erymanthan plain,
Or Cragus, led a virgin train.

Nor less delightful to the ear,
A wand'ring river murmurs near;
Hearing the birds' first matin song,
Whose notes its echoing banks prolong;
Like that fam'd sea, which poets say,
Had heard Arion's softest lay,
And grew so ravish'd with the strain,
It gave his musick back again.
Still as he sang, the waters bore
A pleasing murmur to the shore.
"He sang how breathing zephyrs blow,
O'er flow'ry cliffs, and vales below,
How happy are the rural swains,
That tread on green Arcadian plains.
And how in safe and peaceful glades,
Fond shepherds dance with smiling maids."

Charm'd with the sound of his sweet lyre,
I emulate the Poet's fire;
I hail the shades and sacred groves,
Where many a bounding Dryad roves;
The stream round tufted willows bending,
Where shepherds gay their flocks are tending.
Or mountains blue, whose summits high
Seem mingled with the distant sky.
And then I mark old Ocean's tide,
With silver billows glitt'ring wide;
The white sails shining in the air,
The sea-mews screaming from afar.
And oft I hear the dashing oar,
And busy waves that spurn the shore;
Where the fisher leaves his home,
O'er the pathless deep to roam.

Methought amidst a scene so gay,
'Twere well to let the fancy stray;
Once more recall departed times,
And wander into distant climes.
Sometimes from the rocky shore,
The morning gales sweet musick bore.
Such high and cheerful strains as flow
When Care has fled, and sable Woe;
And staid Contentment in their place
Is seen with ever-smiling face.
Then thought I of the Delian God,
Nine Muses waited on his nod;
While from Parnassus far away,
He on Thracian hills did stray;
What time great Jove enrag'd had driv'n
The culprit from a seat in Heav'n.
Admetus heard his Hind complain,
And wonder'd at the polish'd strain.
The neighb'ring nymphs and graces bound,
In list'ning circles stood around
A simple shepherd's tale to hear,
Nor deem'd Apollo was so near.

Oft in gay trim, and conscious pride,
A freighted vessel stemm'd the tide;
And hail'd her native land again,
Safe from the dangers of the main.
Straight I saw in fancy rise,
Boundless view, and cloudless skies;
Such as bright Arabia knows,
Or Ganges' stream, that widely flows.
I heard the magic charm that plac'd
Fair castles on the desert waste;
Bade mystic forms appear in sight,
Or chang'd to day, the blackest night;
Bade tow'rs and gilded domes be seen,
Midst gardens, lakes, and pastures green.
With gorgeous halls, and banquets, where
High dames, and many a lovely fair,
Each with a baron by her side,
Gayly feast, in regal pride;
Till suddenly withdrawn the spell,
To ground the false enchantment fell.

Next Fancy led me to the bow'rs,
Where poets pass their sacred hours.
To Lesbos isle where Sappho sung,
The vales, and streams, and woods among;
To where Anacreon fram'd his lay,
White laughing Graces round him play;
To Ida's top, that Venus loves,
To Eryx' sacred shades and groves.

Thus soaring high, the milkmaid's strain
Has brought me to myself again.
The lowing cow, the cawing rook,
And bees that seek you flow'ry nook;
The whistling ploughman, broke the charm,
And leave me now to pleasures calm.
So far my guided wings have flown,
They dare not tempt a path unknown.
Nor can I, thanks to thee, refuse,
(Of all the nymphs, my only muse)
Thee, Fancy! careless, pleasing guest,
That giv'st to all our joys a zest;
And might I ever thus be free
In rural shades to live with thee,
No gems that shine on foreign coasts,
Nor all the wealth that India boasts;
Nor all the honours, pomp, and state,
That love to smile upon the great;
Should tempt me from the humble cell,
Where peace, and modest silence dwell.

[p. 641]