1760
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

An Ode to Mirth.

Lloyd's Evening Post (19 September 1760) 275.

Anonymous


An unsigned allegorical ode in the manner of Milton's companion poems. While the measure is irregular, the topic and imagery of this ode appear to be indebted to Gray's Hymn to Adversity — as, for example, the figures that accompany the goddess: "'Tis Mirth. I see her sit, | In Majesty of Light, | With Laughter at her side. | Bright-ey'd Fancy hov'ring near, | Wide waves her glancing wing in air; | And young Wit flings his pointed dart, | That guileless strikes the willing heart." In 1760 the allegorical odes by William Collins were not as yet generally known.

Lloyd's Evening Post, which had launched the career of William Woty in 1758, had quickly become an important newspaper for the dissemination of the Miltonic verse that would dominate the literary scene in the 1760s.



Parent of joy! heart-easing Mirth!
Whether of Venus or Aurora born:
Yet Goddess sure of heav'nly birth,
Visit benign a son of grief forlorn.
Thy glittering colours gay,
Around him, Mirth, display;
And o'er his captur'd sense
Diffuse thy living influence.
So shall each hill in purer green array'd,
And flower adorn'd in new-born beauty glow:
The grove shall smooth the horrors of his shade,
And streams in murmurs shall forget to flow.
Shine, Goddess, shine with unremitting ray,
And gild (a second sun) with brighter beam our day.
Labour with thee forgets his pain,
And aged Poverty can smile with thee:
If thou be nigh, Grief's hate is vain,
And weak th' uplifted hand of Tyranny.
The Morning opes on high
His universal eye;
And on the world doth pour
His glories in a golden show'r.
Lo! Darkness, trembling 'fore the hostile ray,
Shrinks to the cavern deep and wood forlorn;
The brood obscene, that own her gloomy sway,
Troop in the rear, and fly the approach of Morn;
Pale shiv'ring ghosts, that dread th' all-chearing Light,
Quick, as the lightning's flash, glide to sepulchral Night.

But whence the glad'ning beam,
That pours his purple stream,
O'er the long prospect wide?
'Tis Mirth. I see her sit,
In Majesty of Light,
With Laughter at her side.
Bright-ey'd Fancy hov'ring near,
Wide waves her glancing wing in air;
And young Wit flings his pointed dart,
That guileless strikes the willing heart.
Fear not now Affliction's power,
Fear not now wild Passion's rage,
Nor fear ye aught in evil hour,
Save the tardy hand of Age.
Now Mirth hath heard the suppliant Poet's pray'r;
No cloud, that rides the blast, shall vex the troubled Air.

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