1806
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Ode to Amusement.

European Magazine 49 (May 1806) 373.

W. Austin


An allegorical ode in the Miltonic manner signed "W. Austin, March 1806." The title of the poem hardly prepares one for the decidedly "Penseroso" case of a poem that alludes in passing to the military conflagration engulfing Europe: "Should Rumour bid the battle rage, | Let that my thoughts awhile engage, | Where Discord spreads her loud alarms, | And fills the scene with men and arms: | Or seek the spirits of the wood— | Or they, who bathe them in the flood, | And on the rocking ship-mast, sigh | The gallant seaman's elegy."



O Nymph! that lov'st the varied scene,
Lead me, in vacant hours serene,
Ere evening steal, with dew-moist feet,
O'er the smooth lawn, upon some seat
Moss-clad, to view where herds repose,
And waning Phoebus milder glows;
And with his joy-inspiring beams
Tinges the hills, the vales, and streams.
Or to some rude cliff, far outspread,
That o'er the sea-wave bends its head,
And there, while bleak winds blow around,
To hear the billows, hoarse, profound;
Or view them, storm-tost on the shore,
Dash 'mong the rocks with echoing roar!

Or in some fair smiling June,
Wand'ring the meads at liquid noon,
Forgot of gold the sordid cares,
The pomp of pride, and haughty airs,
Give me to read th' instructive page
That charms thro' ev'ry varying age.
And when the orb of silent even
Rides stately thro' the vault of heaven,
And all the blest astreal light
Sprinkles with radiant gems the night,
Remote from cities let me rove,
Near the dark umbrage of the grove.
Or else, should baleful horror sleep
Her rustling pinions in the deep,
And 'mid the terrors of her realm
The agitated vessel whelm,
Let me in crowded audience sit
To smile at gay theatric wit,
Or view grave Tragedy unroll
The mystic purpose of the soul;
And strive to judge th' effect, and cause,
By Reason's light, and Candour's laws.

Should Rumour bid the battle rage,
Let that my thoughts awhile engage,
Where Discord spreads her loud alarms,
And fills the scene with men and arms:
Or seek the spirits of the wood—
Or they, who bathe them in the flood,
And on the rocking ship-mast, sigh
The gallant seaman's elegy;
While frequent visions, flitting light,
Strike the rough vet'ran with affright.
And may the muse, celestial maid!
At thy blest call oft lend her aid,
In fairy bow'rs, a charm dispense
To lull with magic influence!
Now, vain I ask — no fairy bow'r,
Or spell, beguiles my luckless hour;
The wind howls dreary o'er the waste,
And chills with fear at ev'ry blast;
While torrents, from the mountains steep,
Rush thro' the plain with furious sweep!

[p. 373]