1809
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

To Cheerfulness.

The Associate Minstrels.

Josiah Conder


An allegorical ode after Milton's L'Allegro signed "C. August 29, 1809." Josiah Conder mixes some irregular measures among his quatrains, and indeed is one of those MIlton imitators who mixes melancholy with his mirth. "To Cheerfulness" might be described as a Methodist-on-holiday poem: "Yet come: without or spear or shield | My soul shall fearless take the field.— | Blow, Cheerfulness! thy clarion blow! | Hope shall lead us to the foe: | We will all their powers withstand, | Triumph and possess the land" p. 170. The ode concludes with a devotional resolve: "Faith surveys her latest foe, | And bares her bosom to the blow.— | Then, while o'er my kindling lyre | Glows a momentary fire, | On thy breast, O let me lie, | And with decent triumph die!" p. 173. The volume is dedicated to James Montgomery.

Literary Panorama: "The history of this little volume, we are given to understand, is simply that of the agreement of a few friends to appear in company before the public. Each has, accordingly, contributed a portion; and each has a peculiar and appropriate character as a poet. Effusions of friendship and affection present themselves always with amenity, and often with gracefulness. No real critic can be so crabbed as to repulse them harshly. They have pleased in private, and they will not displease in public. Various degrees of poetical merit may safely be expected from associated minstrels: should they even adopt the same theme, they view it in different lights, and treat it in different manners. Some of these pieces are eminently beautiful; and we trace in them generally a course of thought strictly moral, extremely ingenious, and usually interesting" 8 (June 1810) 231.



Awake, awake my heart!
Bid each sad and morbid feeling,
O'er thy languid senses stealing,
Every active power congealing,
From thy breast depart.
Why the hours to grief consigning,
By the cypress still reclining,
Where the sun is never shining?
Wake, O wake, my heart!

Now, while Morn, with eye of blue,
And ringlets dropping still with dew,
Trips the freshened plain along,
And wakes the feathered world of song,
Up the heath-clad mountain climb,
Where the green expanse sublime,
Seas of corn, and wood, and stream,
Glow beneath the yellow beam.
Here we thy turf-altar dress,
Heart-inspiring Cheerfulness!
There each modest wild-flower lay,
That enwreathes the smiling May;
And, while the bracing gale around
Wafts the animating sound,
Glad paeans shall each tongue employ,
And Echo swell the lengthened joy.

But soon the breeze shall fail,
And the flower of short-lived bloom
On thine altar find a tomb:
Soon shall clouds with gathering gloom
The glowing azure veil:
Wilt thou with the sunbeam hide?
Fade with Summer's withering pride?
Wilt, oh! wilt thou quit my side
In Sorrow's dreary vale?

Sister of Contentment! come;
Make my breast thy peaceful home;
Hush each vainly anxious sigh;
Bid each restless passion die;
And with thy reviving smile
Smooth the furrowed brow of Toil.
Come, and hither bring with thee
Dauntless Courage, firm and free;
Meek Humility, serene,
Smiling, yet with pensive mien;
Industry, of ruddy air,
Flying from the grasp of Care;
While, attendant at his side,
Dances Health, his rosy bride.
Come, and let us, sword in hand,
With our gallant little band,
Sound defiance to the foe:
Blow, Cheerfulness! thy clarion blow!

See where, arming for the strife,
O'er the little vale of life,
Hosts of cares and sorrows, first,
From the gloomy distance burst:
Disappointment then, and Fear,
With their infantry appear;
And Disease, with haggard eye,
Leads on his dread artillery:
While, silent, 'mid the opening throng,
Time's fatal chariot rolls along.
And clouds around, and gloomy storm
Following, veil his awful form.—
Yet come: without or spear or shield
My soul shall fearless take the field.—
Blow, Cheerfulness! thy clarion blow!
Hope shall lead us to the foe:
We will all their powers withstand,
Triumph and possess the land:
Time himself shall loose his frown,
Shall himself the victor crown.

O why then yield to Sorrow?
To Duty's standard still be true:
Victory, and heaven, in view,
With Cheerfulness thy way pursue;
From her fresh courage borrow.—
O look not back with tearful eye,
Nor upward at the clouded sky:
Seize present joys while rushing by,
Nor, sighing, fear to-morrow.

Cheerfulness! sweet goddess! come:
Make my breast thy peaceful home.
I have spread my simple board;
All my little fields afford:
Love has brought her choicest wine;
Friendship's sweetest fruits are mine;
Hope has culled, with venturous hand,
Clusters from a fairer land;
Fancy too, can boast her treasures,
Lighter food, and honied pleasures;
And from an eternal spring,
Faith shall purest water bring.
Come! for thee alone we wait;
Bless, and share the simple fete.

The simple fete is o'er!
Love! thy vine the storm did blast;
Age o'er withering Fancy past;
And Hope, with failing wing at last,
Scarce leaves her native shore!
The chilling wind of winter blow;
The showers of sorrow turn to snow;
And, Cheerfulness! wilt thou go,
And leave me to deplore?

Wilt thou leave the steps of Age,
Tiring on their pilgrimage;
Nor support my sinking head;
Nor console my dying bed?
Daughter of Religion! come;
Guide the weary pilgrim home.
Guide me through the gloomy vale;
Let not then my courage fail.—
HE that triumphed o'er the tomb,
Smiling, dissipates its gloom:
Faith surveys her latest foe,
And bares her bosom to the blow.—
Then, while o'er my kindling lyre
Glows a momentary fire,
On thy breast, O let me lie,
And with decent triumph die!

[pp. 167-73]