1775
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Il Solitario.

Weekly Miscellany or Instructive Entertainer 4 (12 June 1775) 258-61.

Anonymous


A Horatian retirement ode in imitation of Milton's companion poems, not signed. The poet takes imagery from both L'Allegro and Il Penseroso, introducing some local specificity: "Happy beneath my peaceful cot, | (No matter for the very spot) | Whether the vagrant fancy roves | O'er Berkshire hills and hanging groves, | Or Buck's fair vale, whose banks beside | The Tamus rolls her silver tide." Ascending a hill to view the setting of the sun, the poet praises the two poets he imitates in this largely descriptive ode, John Milton and John Dyer: "Oh! could I boast the tuneful muse, | Whom the blest bard of Grongar woes, | Who stole her all-inchanted quill, | To paint the beauties of his hill, | Or his who deftly erst pourtray'd: | Sage Melancholy, matron stay'd." This is an ambitious poem by the ordinary standards of the Weekly Miscellany, a provincial work published in Dorset.



Far from the town's tumultuous joys,
From boist'rous jollity and noise,
Grant me, ye Gods, an humble cell,
Where I and Happiness may dwell;
For she, good housewife! hates to roam,
And always may be found at home.
No more to mix with Folly's train,
Whose pleasures all are light and vain:
She still delights to bring along
The vaunting tale, the roaring song,
The vacant grin, the simp'ring leer,
Opprobrious laugh, and taunting jeer,
With nonsense loud and riot blind,
And sure Repentance close behind.

Far from all joys, if joys be these,
O wrap me in inglorious ease,
Blest in some rural calm retreat,
With little box by way of seat;
Where pompous taste should ne'er be seen,
Its whole pretension to be clean;
And if it boast some useful pales,
Let others carve your zigzag rails;
My snug retirement still shall please,
Altho' its fashion's not Chinese.

Happy beneath my peaceful cot,
(No matter for the very spot)
Whether the vagrant fancy roves
O'er Berkshire hills and hanging groves,
Or Buck's fair vale, whose banks beside
The Tamus rolls her silver tide;
There let me live remote from strife,
A rural, not a hermit's life.

The Cock's shrill tone, or echoing horn,
Shall wake me by the break of morn,
While yet Aurora may be found,
Tripping o'er th' enamell'd ground;
Who, as she wanders o'er the mead,
Still hangs a pearl on every weed.
Then climbing up some steepy hill,
The curious eye shall gaze its fill;
While breaking from yon blushing skies,
The giant Sun begins to rise;
And, jocund as a bridegroom bold,
Laces the east with ruddy gold.
The tow'ring Lark in aether floats,
And warbles wild her raptur'd notes;
While perch'd upon a neigh'bring spray,
The Blackbird whistles out his lay,
'Till waken'd, all the groves along,
The feather'd choir take up the song.

Now Roger yokes his steeds to plow,
And drives them up yon mountain's brow;
Where I repair each morn by stealth,
To meet the rose-lip'd virgin Health;
Whom Temperance, in days of yore,
To lusty-sinew'd Labour bore:
Who woed and won the blithsome maid,
As at a harvest-home she play'd,
And to the pipe and tabor beat
Responsive measures with her feet.

Of work assigned their proper share,
The Labourers to the field repair;
While Colin, in the Farmer's yard,
Cleaves many a clump of stack-wood hard,
To make the chearful fire to burn,
And boil the pot, for their return.

With cleanly pail, and tuck'd up grown,
Now Dolly trips the village down;
And as she drives the cows along,
Beguiles her way with various song.

Hark! how the horn, with merry sound,
Pierces the welkin all around,
While Echo, who still loves to mock,
(Blithe daughter of the hollow rock)
O'er hill and distant valley flies,
And doubles all the Hunter's cries,
See now the tim'rous Hare in view,
Whom horse and dogs and men pursue;
In vain she springs along the plain,
And doubles o'er the ground again;
In vain the friendly cover tries,—
Hark! to the winding horn — she dies.

Let those who list in Folly's train,
Retirement's sober charms disdain;
Let them prefer tumultuous joys,
Where mirth is swallow'd up in noise;
Quaff draughts of strong Circaean wine,
And reel to bed from Bacchus' shrine,
Defrauding half the Night, to pay
Their debt of sleep to buxom Day;
In vain her silken charms are spread,
Be Sloth an exile from my bed;
Thus Health shall couple with delight,
And Exercise bring appetite.

Or let me in some evening still
Climb to the top of yon hoar hill,
E'er yet Hyperion's lusty beams
Have drank the salt of Tethy's streams;
Who standing on some mountain's brow,
Gilds here and there a vale below,
While struck with his declining rays,
The distant windows seem to blaze.

Oh! could I boast the tuneful muse,
Whom the blest bard of Grongar woes,
Who stole her all-inchanted quill,
To paint the beauties of his hill,
Or his who deftly erst pourtray'd:
Sage Melancholy, matron stay'd,
And sung the goddess blithe and free
In heaven yclep'd Euphrosyne:
Whose pencil by gay Fancy tipt
In all the rainbows colours dipt,
Like the fam'd Thracian King of old,
Whate'er it touch'd transform'd to gold:
Then would I paint yon mountain's pride
Its prospect over champain wide,
O'er hill and dale, and forest brown,
With here and there a tufted town:
O'er fallow field and meadow green,
Chequ'ring the gay embroider'd scene;
While Tamasis his treasures pours,
Kissing the banks of either shores;
Who, winding still his current strong,
Sweeps the enamell'd vales along,
And o'er resisting locks, convey'd,
Beggars the garden's trim cascade.
Then would I speak, as Fancy roams,
Of villas neat, of lofty domes,
Of hamlet, and of village tell,
Where Contemplation loves to dwell.

But see the Night, in sable shroud,
Comes riding on yon dingy cloud;
Now flits the Bat with leathern wing,
Returning ever in a ring;
And whizzing thro' the dark'ned air,
The Rooks unto their nests repair;
Who love their merriment to hold
By some time-shaken abbey old,
Whose moss-grown turrets all around,
The oak or star-proof elm is found.

No more my wand'ring feet shall roam,
I'll hie me to my rustic home,
And thither shall my way be ta'en
Thro' some close and hedgy lane;
So shall the Nightingale the while
With dulcet song my walk beguile,
Who nightly to the moon complains
Trilling her soft melodious strains;
While all the village-bells around
Delight the ear with jocund sound.

But see the Toad forsakes her hole,
And loudly screams the staring Owl.
Hence let me hasten to my home,
(The dews forbid me now to roam)
So shall each day bring fresh delight,
And social converse crown the night.

[pp. 258-61]