1788
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Noon.

European Magazine 13 (June 1788) 451-52.

R.


A descriptive ode in imitation of Milton's Il Penseroso, signed "R., May 8th, 1788." In this poem noon is the season of retirement and reflection, leading the poet into shades where he contemplates "knightly shows of Gothic form, | That my throbbing bosom warm." The times-of-day theme of the poem precludes the imitation of Milton's transitions, resulting in a stillness that accords with the sultry hours described. The conclusion of the poem, however, paraphrases the original: "And ever when the organs blow, | With solemn movement full and slow, | May she to the roofs around | Repeat the sacred anthem's sound, | With lengthen'd notes and pauses due, | Such as once great Handel knew, | Till my wrapt soul soaring rise | With religious ecstacies" p. 452.



Now Phoebus lashing on his steeds,
To his utmost zenith speeds;
The meek-eye'd Hours that led the prime,
Are left behind i' th' eastern clime.
High through the void the God of day
Rolls his flaming car away;
Till the languid herds and sheep
Into the woodland covert creep;
And the shepherd seeks some glade
Embower'd deep in silent shade;
Or, when Phoebus rules the sky,
Perchance by rushy fount doth lie,
Repeating soft his "love-lorn" tale
To perched hill and shadowy dale;
Whilst, reckless of the noon-tide ray,
Echoes the jocund village lay
Of many a swain and buxom lass
Tedding slow the new-mown grass;
Till rising on the shaven green,
In russet clad, the haycock's seen.
Then to Ceres' sultry reign,
Hies him on the sun burnt swain;
Black-ey'd Phillis by his side
Binds the sheaves till even-tide.
Then, when Phoebus' swelter'd team
Plunges in the Ocean stream,
Underneath the fav'rite tree,
Welcome rustic jollity.
Lo! the ruddy Hours, that run
By the parch'd meridian sun,
Are all in golden liv'ries dight,
Too gloomy far for human sight;
Like orient gems, their flush'd cheeks shine,
Their saffron locks the rose entwine;
And tipp'd in the tints of Iris' bow,
Graceful behind their loose robes flow.
Sublime, the great Sun rides on high,
And flings his rays along the sky;
He tips with gold the mountain's head,
And rouses Nature from her bed;
Bids prostrate earth receive his fires,
And takes the bliss his beam inspires.
O! radiant beam, creative fire!
Pleasure's source, and Beauty's fire!
Thine is each tint that Summer sees,
Or yellow Autumn's bending trees;
Thine earlier Spring's enamell'd bow'rs,
Her verdant glades, her rising flow'rs.
Each breeze that fans the meads at morn,
Or bends at noon the shadowy corn;
Or wafts at dewy eve the note
From plaintive Philomela's throat;
Confess thy all-creative ray,
Parent of bliss, and source of day!—
Widely spreads th' etherial blaze:
Diffus'd o'er all, the fervid rays
Glow on the barren mountain's side,
And drink the waters as they glide.
Deep in the dale the piercing beam
Arrests the rustic's drooping team.
The cattle lie beneath the thorn,
Regardless of the herdsman's horn;
The flocks forget the neigh'bring hill,
To stand beside the shaded rill.—
At this sultry hour of Noon,
Grant me, Heaven, the simple boon,
Underneath some poplar's shade,
That rears its head in sylvan glade,
To throw my listless limbs along,
And hear the linnet chaunt her song;
Or mark the brook that gliding by,
On its surface paints the sky,
And reflects its margent green
Trimm'd with yellow cowslips seen;
And as the waters gently pass
Through the long entangled grass,
May my thoughts in serious mood
Moralise the passing flood,
And learn of it to glide along,
Unheeded by the bustling throng!
And as I keep my noiseless way,
Unknown, unthought of by the gay,
May I in its surface find
The art to make my placid mind
Meet all the ills of life resign'd,
And still, with philosophic eye,
Calmly see the minutes fly!
May hours and years that circle round
This earthly pinfold's farthest bound,
Behold me in their swift advance,
Still wrapt in some poetic trance;
With dreams of fair elysian meads,
And music breath'd on Doric reeds;
Or knightly shows of Gothic form,
That may my throbbing bosom warm,
But yet with such a soften'd glow,
As no intemp'rate zeal may know:
Then, ere the airy pageant fades,
Let me catch the fleeting shades,
And draw them in such artful sort
As may not labour seem, but sport.
Then, if the sultry season lead
The high-embow'ring wood to tread,
Give me, to make my joys complete,
The gentle Laura's converse sweet,
But should fate forbid the vale,
Let me seek the cloister pale,
And there hide me from the eye
Of Phoebus when he rideth high;
And 'till the purple Ev'ning come,
Wond'ring view some arched dome,
Where Echo oft in serious sort
Doth hold with saints her mimic court:
And ever when the organs blow,
With solemn movement full and slow,
May she to the roofs around
Repeat the sacred anthem's sound,
With lengthen'd notes and pauses due,
Such as once great Handel knew,
Till my wrapt soul soaring rise
With religious ecstacies.

[pp. 451-52]