1762
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Hymn to May.

Pennsylvania Gazette (3 June 1762).

Anonymous


An imitation of Milton's L'Allegro, not signed, by an American poet pursuing fairy fancies in "Cooly Bow'r, or latent Grott, | Friends to Sense, and heavn'ly Thought; | Such as affords fair Schuylkill's Plains, | Where e'er light-footed Silence reigns; | There, while flows thy winding Stream." The poem traces the attractions of the vernal season throughout the hours of the day. This sounds like schoolboy verse, and is possibly the product of one of the scholars at William Smith's Academy at Philadelphia. Descriptive odes had hitherto been in short supply in Benjamin Franklin's Pennsylvania Gazette.

Headnote: "The following was designed for last Week's Paper; but, for Want of Room, oblig'd to be deferr'd, and, we hope, will now be agreeable to our Readers."



I.
Now had the Beam of Titan gay
Usher'd in the blissful May,
Scattering from his pearly Bed
Fresh Dew o'er each Mountain's Head.
Nature mild and debonair
Yields to the all-beauteous Fair.
MAY with gentle plastic Hand
Clads in flow'ry Robe the Land:
O'er the Vales she Cowslips spreads,
And Eglantine beneath the Shades;
At her Approach wan Echo's Swain
Rears his lovely Head again,
Trembling o'er yon glassy Rill,
Chang'd to a Snow-lip'd Daffodil.
Vi'let's blue befringe each Fountain,
Woobines lace each sleepy Mountain,
Hyacinths their Sweets diffuse,
And the Rose its Blush renews;
With the rest of Flora's Train,
Decking lowly Dale or Plain,
All the feather'd Tribe declare
That they breathe thy genial Air,
Chanting in each balmy Grove
Heav'nly Melody and Love.

II.
Thro' Creation's varied Frame,
All thy Influence proclaim;
Whether in the Chrystal Flood,
Am'rous sport the finny Brood;
Or the winged warbling Crew
In spontaneous Numbers woo;
Or the bestial Flocks that rove
Thro' each Verdure-gilded Grove,
Smitten with a fiercer Love.
Or the Passion lordly rise,
And all controul beneath the Skies,
Swaying soft the human Mind
With Feelings of extatic Kind;
These are thine, celestial MAY,
And ever tend thy gentle Sway.

III.
Oft will I, ere Phosphor's Light
Quits the glimm'ring Skirts of Night,
Meet Thee in the Clover Field,
Where Thou shalt all Thy Beauties yield
To my Fancy, quick and warm,
List'ning to the Dawn's Alarm,
Sounded by loud Chanticleer,
In Peals that sharply pierce the Ear.
Or when Sol's Meridian Carr
High illumes the vaulted Air,
Then from the sultry solar Ray
Will I to some lone Covert stray;
Cooly Bow'r, or latent Grott,
Friends to Sense, and heavn'ly Thought;
Such as affords fair Schuylkill's Plains,
Where e'er light-footed Silence reigns;
There, while flows thy winding Stream
(Romantic as the Maiden's Dream)
Will I devote full many an Hour,
To the still-finger'd Morphean Pow'r;
And from Fancy's fairy Bowl
Entertain my thirsty Soul;
Or mount her Orb of Iris' Hue,
And Scenes of Heav'n and Earth review.

IV.
Nor in milder Eve's Decline
As the Sun forgets to shine,
And sloping down the aetherial Plain
He plunges in the western Main;
Will I e'er cease due Strain to pay
To the Song-inspiring MAY!
But as Hesper 'gins to move
Round the radiant Court of Jove,
(Loading thro' the azure Sky
All the starry Progeny,
Emitting prone their Silver Light,
To re-illume the Shades of Night,)
Shall be seen thy tuneful Friend,
O'er the Lawns his Path to bend,
Carroling his tender Lay
To the Honey-breathing MAY,
Or viewing with transported Eye
The blazing Orbits roll on high,
Beaming Lustre, bright and clear,
O'er the glowing Hemisphere.—
Thus from the early blushing Morn
Till sober-mantl'd Eve's Return,
Will I in free unlabour'd Lays
Sweetly sound thy grateful Praise.
Hail then! hail thou charming MAY!
Ever sprightly, brisk and gay.—

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