1816
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Poesy. An Ode. In imitation of Milton.

Gentleman's Magazine 86 (Supplement to Part II, 1816) 614-15.

G. H. T.


After Milton's L'Allegro, signed "G. H. T., Somersetshire, Aug. 20." This descriptive ode is structured as a times-of-day poem, with morning, noon, evening, and night each illustrated with a rural scene. Each scene is succession is offered as a subject for poetry. As was generally the case in romantic verse, poetry is though of as emanating from nature rather than from art, so that (unlike Milton's original) reading has no place in this ode. While the verse is decidedly amateurish, the poet does reach for sublimity in his conclusion: "When angels wake their golden lyre, | And hymning seraphs to the choir, | In varied melody the strain, | Their great Creator's love proclaim! | Celestial guest! and power divine! | Sweet Poesy! the lay is thine!"



When the Morning's Orient light
Unveils the landscape to the sight—
And smoke from low-roof'd hamlets rise
In spiral columns to the skies:
When is heard the Woodman's stroke,
As he cleaves the stubborn oak,
And the wild-bird's lay of love,
Carol'd in the dusky grove,
And the milk-maid's sprightly song,
As she trips the meads among,
When the lowing cattle raise,
In Nature's voice the note of praise,
O! rustic nymph! with frolic air,
Thou, sweet Poesy, art there!

When 'tis Noon, and ardent fire
Bids a fainting world retire—
And labour wipes the humid brow,
And seeks the shade the trees bestow;
And beneath some rugged rock,
The shepherd views his panting flock;
And all is quiet stillness round,
Save, that's heard the plaintive sound
Of the young rook's ceaseless call,
And the plashing waterfall,
And the gnat with busy wing,
When the herald of the spring
As a shepherd's clock the note,
Doth the fleeting hour denote,
In Nature's harmony around,
Thou sweet Poesy, art found!

When Evening comes with purple ray,
And beams the faint decline of day;
When the bee with waxen thighs
Homeward swiftly, laden hies;
And his task of labour o'er,
Seated at the cottage door,
The peasant quaffs the nutbrown ale,
And hears again the oft-told tale;
Whilst as the ling'ring hours beguil'd,
The housewife rocks her sleeping child;
Or, the mother's love exprest,
Fondly lulls it on her breast;
When young and old, beneath the tree,
Dance to village minstrelsy;
With cheerful face, and modest mien,
Thou, sweet Poesy, art seen!

When Night, with sable stole around,
Invests the world with gloom profound;
And Nature hush'd in soft repose,
Man seeks oblivion of his woes!
When Luna's tranquil, pallid beams,
O'er the dark foliage silv'ry gleams;
And Heaven with sparkling, brilliant rays,
Lifts the rapt soul to sacred praise!
When angels wake their golden lyre,
And hymning seraphs to the choir,
In varied melody the strain,
Their great Creator's love proclaim!
Celestial guest! and power divine!
Sweet Poesy! the lay is thine!

[pp. 614-15]