1811
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Ode to Melancholy.

Baltimore Repertory of Papers on Literature and other Subjects 1 (April 1811) 213-15.

C.


An imitation of Milton's Il Penseroso in seven irregular stanzas signed "C., Alexandria, January 12, 1811." In this descriptive ode a Virginia poet eschews the regular octosyllabic couplet while carrying over the traditional imagery of melancholy. The sentiments of the concluding lines, which may owe something to Collins's Ode to Evening, take an unexpectedly social turn: "Grant to my suppliant request | For others' woes the feeling breast, | And generous Friendship's charm benign | And ardent Virtue's gifts divine, | And o'er each restless passion vain | Extend thy tranquilizing reign."

The Baltimore Repertory, edited by "a society of gentlemen," seems to have survived only for six monthly issues.



Oh! holy nymph, by whom inspir'd,
In solemn gloom afar retir'd,
By haunted stream, in lonely dell,
The sad enthusiast loves to dwell!
Here, in the shadow of this groaning oak,
Where dimly gleams th' autumnal day,
Let me thy pensive power invoke,
And sadly breathe to thee the melancholy lay.

Inspirer of the Poet's soul!
Parent of all those solemn visions wild,
Which o'er the Muses' mournful child,
With magick force exert their soft conroul;
Come thou and ever dwell with me,
And I thy votary still will be,
And we will seek the lonely seat
Where dwells the Hermit solitude,
And folly's foot shall ne'er intrude
Into the still retreat.

And we will shun the false delusive joys
Which captivate the worldly throng,
The scoff of Pride and jarring Discord's noise,
And guilty Pleasure's syren song;
And court beneath the silent shade,
Calm, holy Contemplation's aid
On soaring plume the soul to bear,
With solemn rapture to sublime
Above the gloomy ruins of Time,
To radiant Virtue's clam and blissful sphere.

And be the pensive pleasure mine
To trace each lonely path of thine,
Amidst each solemn scene to rove
Which thou art wont, sad Nymph, to love;
To sit with thee beside the wavy flood
That mourns along the cavern'd shore,
And 'midst the brown and antique wood,
List the low-sobbing breeze and torrent's distant roar.

With thee to climb the mountain's brow
O'er many a tall and pine-o'ershadow'd steep,
And 'midst the silence drear and deep,
Gaze on the dim-discover'd scenes below;
Or fancy in each solemn sound
That breaks the lonely stillness round,
The groaning of the giant oak,
The hermit eagle's echoing yell
That thou from thy retir'd cell,
In mournful accents spoke

And wander oft when daylight's closing eye
Beams dimly through the dewey air,
Where the chill blast in many a low-breath'd sign,
Moans through some antique ruin drear,
Whose towers and battlements sublime
Have mock'd the rude assaults of Time,
And echoing to the wintery blast,
Seem to thy melancholy ear
Who lov'st at eve to wander there,
To mourn the joys of times forever past.

Sage Nymph! while thus with thee I dwell
In Solitude's romantic cell,
And rove 'midst every scene of thine
And make thy solemn visions mine,
Thy pensive influence, oh! impart
To soften, not to gloom my heart.
Grant to my suppliant request
For others' woes the feeling breast,
And generous Friendship's charm benign
And ardent Virtue's gifts divine,
And o'er each restless passion vain
Extend thy tranquilizing reign.

[pp. 213-15]