1791
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Ode to the Evening.

Poems by Thomas Townshend, Esq.

Thomas Townshend


A companion poem to the "Ode to the Morning" by the author of "Elfin Eclogues." This Irish imitation of Milton's Il Penseroso contains one of the more charming gothic passages in the seriesl the poet steals forth "When the cowl'd monk of darken'd times | Fleets o'er the seat of long-past crimes, | And spectry forms of cloister'd maids | In sorrow bow their pensive heads; | For no loud rustic revels there | Thy pensive votaries shall scare." Like all of the odes in Thomas Townshend's volume (to War, Hope, Freedom, Love, etc.), this poem is much influenced by William Collins.

Critical Review: "The elegiac odes are better than the other poems of this writer, because in them he attempts less. We do not find in them the 'dew-eyed' and 'day-eyed,' the 'pale-eyed' and 'flame-eyed' forms, so frequent in the preceeding odes; nor do we observe the tinsel glitter of the Della-Crusca school. They display, however, more imagery than tenderness. Mr. Townshend seldom rises above mediocrity; and it is the opinion of many, that in no species of poetry is mediocrity so little allowable as in the lyric" in review of Townshend, Poems (1797); NS 22 (February 1798) 188.



Wrapt in thy air-wrought mantle blue,
With cincture girt of glittering dew,
Led by the calm soft-footed gale,
Meek Eve, thy lov'd return I hail!
While sunk below the ethereal steep,
The sun descends to golden sleep,
And flings his last refracted beam,
Up the vast slope with ruddy gleam.
The pensive hours on dark'ning wing
Now faintly wheel their twilight ring;
And dimpled joys excursive stray
Thro' the soft arch of swelling day;
The chauntress of the copses green
Trills her thick-warbled note unseen;
And sylvan pipe and pastoral song
In mingled measures steal along,
Gray-hooded Eve! with soothing pow'r,
To bless thy sweetly-solemn hour.

When the lone village pilgrim strays
Uncertain o'er the twilight ways,
And blue-hair'd Fays in circles tread
O'er the moist cowslip's velvet head,
Me lead thou saintly nymph serene,
To seek the long sequester'd scene;
And chiefly too that haunted place,
Where claspt in ivy's wild embrace,
The Abbey's wall slow-moldering stands,
The drear abode of shadowy bands,
Which village legends say have been,
There at thy dubious hour seen,
When the cowl'd monk of darken'd times
Fleets o'er the seat of long-past crimes,
And spectry forms of cloister'd maids
In sorrow bow their pensive heads;
For no loud rustic revels there
Thy pensive votaries shall scare,
Where the blank wing of silence spread
Waves o'er the musing thought-prest head.
And when thou droop'st in languid plight
Into the starry lap of night,
Slow let me tread the moon-light plain,
To pause in sweetly-sadder strain,
For there the soft-soul'd Muse shall rove,
And melting tune her lute to love,
And there my lyre in concord string
Of Julia's countless charms to sing—
O! would'st thou, Eve, to love a friend,
Some dewy-feather'd herald send
To meet my Julia in her grove,
And sing unseen how much I love,
To tell her with a fairy's art,
How full the throb which swells my heart,
By Spring's green tresses now I swear,
By all the sweets which paint the year,
By the love-lorn shepherd's sigh,
By the soft might of Julia's eye,
A lovely band of village maids,
And simple hinds with blooming wreaths
Shall raise to thee an altar trim,
And laud thee with a rural hymn,
Soon as thou com'st on sandals gray,
To close the balmy eye-lids of the day.

[pp. 55-58]