1801
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Solitude.

Edinburgh Magazine or Literary Miscellany NS 17 (March 1801) 225-26.

J. N.


An allegorical ode in eleven irregular Spenserians (ababcdcD) signed "J. N., Inverleithen." The poem imitates Milton's Il Penseroso in the stanza of Gray's Hymn to Adversity. J. N., a frequent contributor to the Edinburgh Magazine at this era, composed most of his poems in Scots, which may be the point of the allusion to "rural song" in the concluding stanza: "Would Heaven my glowing wishes crown,— | Where Tweed's clear waters wind along— | Sweet Solitude! I'd be thine own, | And artless raise the rural song!" One of his later poems is signed "J—ie N—l."



Hence, sons of riot! hence away!
Away who noisy mirth pursue!
You who to hurry give the day,
The muse's song is not for you!—
She sings to those who can disdain
Of power and wealth the splendid train,
Who love the great, the wise, the good,
And court the modest charms of meek-ey'd Solitude.

Hail, Solitude! celestial maid!
Mild patroness of truth and song!
Come in simplicity array'd,
And let us fly the busy throng!
Yon sweet, sequester'd woodbine bower,
By Nature gemm'd with every flower,
Close by the crystal murmuring stream,
Embrac'd by woods, will shield us from the noon-tide beam.

Come, lovely subject of my song,
With friendship come, whose tender glow,
Thy consecrated bowers among,
Will balm afford for every woe!
We'll range the fruitful fields below,
Bask on the mountain's sunny brow,
Love the wild music of the shade,
The hum of mountain bees, the flower that decks the glade.

Lo! the indulgent Goddess hears,
She comes, and listens to my strain!
She comes, and folly disappears,
And folly's light fantastic train.
Pride, pomp, and grandeur haste away,
Deceit and envy dare not stay,
Vice, cruelty, and murder fly,
Fly the mild radiance of her heavenly-beaming eye.

Here, heaven rapt meditation's glow,
Truth's steady step and piercing eye,
And wisdom's calm majestic brow,
The world's bewitching smiles defy!
Philosophy, heaven's darling child,
And modest virtue walk the wild;
Sweet poesy attunes her lays,
And with creative eye all nature's charms surveys.

Oft, revelry! I've left thy bowers,
To muse, with wisdom's pensive eye,
O'er yon lone abbey's mouldering towers,
Where low the fair and mighty lie!
O'er its fall'n walls the cypress pale
Sighs mournful to the hollow gale;
There, to eternity's dread shore,
Nature directs the eye, and teaches man her lore!

From hoary cliffs, here, woods depend,
And shade the stream that glides below!
Hoarse, murmuring notes the turtles send,
Responsive to each other's woe.
The birds harmonious numbers sing,
The music floats on zephyr's wing;
And white-rob'd innocence and love
Sweet Solitude invoke, and court the peaceful grove.

When evening shuts the eye of day,
And soft repose o'er Nature steals,
The pale moon rising on her way
Gleams faintly o'er the eastern hills;
Then melancholy heaves the sigh,
Slow falls the tear from sorrow's eye;
Lone Philomella echo wakes,
And sad in night's dull ear her amorous moan she makes.

When from the busy world I fly
False friends avoid the sacred ground;
Ambition's towers in ruins lie,
Nor flattery's smile has power to wound;
Strength cannot hurt, nor art prepare
For simple innocence a snare;
Nor pride can draw my heart astray
From virtue's heaven-ward path to vice's dangerous way.

Teach me, O Solitude! to know
Myself, mankind, life's little span,
Regarding all events below
As part of Heaven's stupendous plan.
To trust in Heaven's protecting care,
To cherish virtue, charming fair!
T' enjoy young pleasure's smiling train,
Or welcome Sorrow, and the pale-ey'd race of pain!

Would Heaven my glowing wishes crown,—
Where Tweed's clear waters wind along—
Sweet Solitude! I'd be thine own,
And artless raise the rural song!
My soul on native wings would tower
Above the toys of pomp and power,
'Till death should close this scene of woe,
And lead me to the realms where joys eternal flow!

[pp. 225-26]