1788
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Ode to Melancholy.

New London Magazine 4 (November 1788) 603.

Gavin Turnbull


A condensation of Milton's Il Penseroso, signed "G. Turnbull." The poet was a Scottish weaver and acquaintance of Robert Burns, who would later turn thespian and eventually emigrate to America. The New London Magazine seemed to have taken particular interest in poetry by autodidacts, though generally not announced as such. Their house poet was William Hamilton Reid, and poems by William Vernon, Charles Graham, Robert Burns, and John Thelwall also appeared in their poetry column.



Maiden of the downcast eye,
Who, when ev'ning draweth nigh,
Windest oft thy lonely way
'Neath the sober twilight grey,
Pursuing still the lonely road
By human footsteps seldom trod:
By the hills or shady woods,
Dreary cells and haunted floods;
By the church-yard's lonely bound,
Wand'ring o'er the cheerless ground—
Where oft as vulgar stories tell
From isles the midnight spectres yell;
Or where some stalwart ruins nod,
Or wealth and grandeur once th' abode,
Delighted with the dismal howl
Of ravens, and the hooting owl.—
Come, Melancholy, sober maid!
In all thy winning charms array'd,
Come sweet maid, nor once disdain
To take me in thy pensive train.

[p. 603]