1814
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Ode to Enthusiasm; an irregular Lyric.

Monthly Magazine 36 (January 1814) 522-23.

H. N.


An allegorical ode signed "H. N., Kentish Town." If the imagery in this lyric is fairly conventional, the poet varies the measure between couplet and quatrain rhymes. Near the conclusion the writer declares that sober truth has become unbearable: "If truth I follow, truth displays | A barren, bleak, bewilder'd maze; | There Virtue assumes the sov'reign nod; | There Innocence in durance pines, | Whilst Guilt in courts conspicuous shines, | Conceal'd from Retribution's eye, | In Pow'r's impervious panoply." The politics of the Monthly Magazine were decidedly liberal.



Come, rapt Enthusiasm! come,
Descend in all thy pow'r,
And leave thy wild aerial home,
To bless thine earthly bow'r.
She comes in heav'nly garb array'd,
A musing melancholy maid.
She loves the deep tempestuous roar,
When angry ocean beats the shore;
She loves the wild portentous sky,
When livid lightnings round her fly:
And tho' sometimes her seat she take
Beside the cool translucid lake,
She more delights with Fanny still
To haunt the overhanging hill,
To see the gath'ring tempest low'r,
And hear the deep ton'd thunder roar.

Now o'er a yawning chasm thrown,
Wrapt in creations all her own,
Beneath her feet the surges beat,
Above her head the rocks are spread,
And all around is fairy ground,
With nature's wild luxuriance crown'd.
Hark! with what extatic fire
She strikes the soft seraphic lyre.
Winds in hollow cadence roaring,
Waves in eddying torrents pouring,
Rocks the angry surges beating,
Echo hoarse the note repeating,
Soft combining sounds assailing,
Moaning, pining, wand'ring, waililng,
Raise the soul to heights refin'd,
And loftier lift th' exalted mind.

On ev'ry hill the cadence hung,
On ev'ry rock the echo rung,
And universal nature smil'd
On scenes so fair, on notes so wild.
So soft she sung, she smil'd so fair,
So sweetly wav'd her radiant hair;
The Passions ling'ring on their way,
Hung o'er the soft seraphic lay;
Mirth stopt his circle's giddy round,
To listen to the solemn sound;
And Rapture rais'd her hands on high,
And roll'd her eyes in ecstacy.

Enthusiasm can bestow
An heav'nly antidote to woe;
When real ills our peace destroy,
She forms imaginary joy;
When galling chains the body bind,
She boasts the freedom of the mind;
And when (the day of life o'ercast)
Man droops beneath the howling blast,
She bids his sinking spirit spring
On fancy's bold and daring wing,
And soar beyond the wheeling pole,
In all the vigour of the soul.

Come, sweet Enthusiasm! spread
Thy pinions o'er a suppliant's head,
For I have wander'd in thy bow'r,
And pluck'd each fond inviting flow'r,
Which pleas'd th' eclectic eye;
Have heard the balmy breezes blow,
Have seen the limpid waters flow,
And felt th' enthusiastic glow,
The wild retreats supply.

Descend from heav'n, celestial guest!
Descend and fill this vacant breast;
These eyes have roll'd beneath thy ray,
And cannot bear the sober day.
If truth I follow, truth displays
A barren, bleak, bewilder'd maze;
There Virtue assumes the sov'reign nod;
There Innocence in durance pines,
Whilst Guilt in courts conspicuous shines,
Conceal'd from Retribution's eye,
In Pow'r's impervious panoply.

Come then, Enthusiasm, dwell
An heav'nly guest with me,
And many a plaintive tale I'll tell,
And song I'll sing to thee.

When morning gilds the eastern skies,
Of thee the strain shall be;
And when the shades of evening rise,
I'll tune my harp to thee.

To thee shall youth devote her lays,
Till health and pleasure flee;
And age in broken accents raise
A votive strain to thee.

And when at last the hour shall come,
That sets my spirit free,
With joy I'll leave my earthly home,
And soar to heav'n with thee.

[pp. 522-23]