1775
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Ode to the Elegiac Muse.

Poetical Amusements at a Villa near Bath. [Lady Anne Miller, ed.]

**** C-ss-ns, Esq.


A Miltonic ode in four irregular stanzas of the Penseroso cast. The second stanza, describing Tragedy, appears to owe a debt to William Collins: "My wondering eyes the stately form pursue: | Now, erect she points to heaven, | Now, bending o'er the earth, she seems to view | Some horrid image to her fancy given— | She starts, she trembles, — and, in wild despair, | Rents her robe, and tears her hair." The use of a refrain is most uncommon in irregular odes. Raymon Dexter Havens includes this ode in his bibliography of Milton imitations.

This is the first of four volumes of Bath-Easton society verse that Lady Anne Miller would publish for the benefit of charity, the last appeared in 1781.

Preface: "The candid Reader will please to recollect, whilst he turns over these pages, that they were frequently the production of a few days, — most of them of as many hours: — That they originated amidst the hurry of plays, balls, public breakfasts, and concerts, and all the dissipations of a full Bath Season — alike unfriendly to Contemplation and the Muses: — That the authors did not foesee their appearance under their present form, and had for the most part little leisure to improve or correct them" p. iv.

Critical Review: "These little pieces are of the kind called by the French Bouts Rimes, which was a fashionable composition among the wits of that nation in the last century. We do not desire to see the taste revived in Britain; but for the sake of the charitable establishment at Bath, for the use of which the profit arising from the sale of this performance is intended, we would favour it for once with our indulgence, and even recommendation" 39 (March 1775) 241.



Queen of the mournful song!
Far from the gay and giddy throng,
The sons of dissonance and noise,
I seek your sober, pleasing joys!
Oh! let me woo thee, pensive maid,
Where the tall cypress casts a solemn shade;
Where the pale poplar whispers to the wind!—
Or if beside the Hero's urn reclin'd,
Or where my Delia's ashes rest, you deign
To breath the Elegiac strain,—
Assist me, while with you I mourn
Beside my Delia's grave, — or o'er the Hero's urn!

What stately form attracts my wondering eye,
That wrapt in stole of purple hue,
With step majestic, passes by?
A dagger in her hand she bears,
Wet with blood, and wet with tears;—
My wondering eyes the stately form pursue:
Now, erect she points to heaven,
Now, bending o'er the earth, she seems to view
Some horrid image to her fancy given—
She starts, she trembles, — and, in wild despair,
Rents her robe, and tears her hair:—
And now, as if by every woe oppress'd,
She sheaths the pointed dagger in her breast.
—In haste I leave the tragic form, to mourn
Beside my DELIA'S grave, — or o'er the Hero's urn.

COMUS, be gone, with all thy noisy crew!
To your delusive joys I bid adieu!
And though THALIA join your train,
With nimble step, and mimic grace,
With laughter bursting on her face,
I feel that all your joys are pain,
While breathing forth the melancholy strain,
In sadly-pleasing notes, I mourn
Beside my DELIA'S grave, — or o'er the Hero's urn.

Queen of the mournful song!
Inspir'd by thee, I tune the pensive lay,
The verdant meads and flowery vales among,
—How sweet at evening hour to stray,
When the sun lingers on the distant hill,
To where the woodbine blows:
And listening to the murmuring rill,
Enjoy a pleasing, calm repose,
Which festive pleasure never knows:—
While, born upon the rising gale,
The knell resounds along the vale:—
But oh! 'tis sweeter far with thee to mourn,
Beside my DELIA'S grave, — or o'er the Hero's urn.

[pp. 139-42]