1774
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Hymn to the Muse.

Poems, chiefly Rural.

William Richardson


A formal ode in nine stanzas of irregular measure imitating Milton's companion poems: "Benign inspirer of my song | O come, and with thee bring along, | Essential to the tuneful vein, | Calm quiet, and the soul serene" p. 24. The poem, which turns on imagery rather than argument, makes the conventional association between fancy and fairy poetry: "In order meet the fairy-elves | Extend along the flowery plain: | And now the mazy ranks advance, | Revolving wild the mystic dance; | Shrill the elfin minstrels sing, | By the stream the sprightly ring" pp. 25-26.

Town and Country Magazine: "These poems, it seems, are the offspring of Mr. Richardson's pen; and in the Odes, Anacreontics, &c. before us, the gentleman has displayed genius for descriptive and sentimental poetry, that does honour to the capital of Russia, where many of these poems were written" 6 (September 1774) 464.



STROPHE.
While I tune the votive lay,
And invoke the Muse's aid,
Hence, ye harpy cares, away!
Nor profane the hallowed shade.
Benign inspirer of my song
O come, and with thee bring along,
Essential to the tuneful vein,
Calm quiet, and the soul serene.

ANTISTROPHE.
Often have I left the plains,
Left the rural sports and play,
Careless of the nymphs and swains,
Of their games and pastime gay;
By thee of every care beguiled,
Thoughtful I ranged the pathless wild,
Where lonely lakes reflect the skies,
And groves and hoary rocks arise.

EPODE.
Far in the forests awful shade,
Where Solitude, of pensive mien,
Reclined beside the high cascade,
Admires the wild romantic scene,
Pleased as the torrent roars along,
Or listening to the turtle's song;
Often my enchanted eyes
Saw the mystic band arise,
And thy magic numbers stole
Murmuring sweetly on my soul.

STROPHE.
Ever as returning spring
Smiled auspicious on the mead,
And the tempest's hoary king
By thee enlivened and inspir'd,
By nature's powerful beauty fir'd,
Careless of censure, blyth and free,
I sung of nature and of thee.

ANTISTROPHE.
In the stream-divided glade,
O how sweet with the unseen,
By the bloomy hawthorn shade
To enjoy the pensive scene,
When Hesper closed the gates of day,
And Cynthia, with her silver ray,
Arising o'er the mountain's brow,
Gladden'd the gloomy vale below.

EPODE.
Then issuing from their rocky shelves,
Where dripping rills fast-trickling strain
In order meet the fairy-elves
Extend along the flowery plain:
And now the mazy ranks advance,
Revolving wild the mystic dance;
Shrill the elfin minstrels sing,
By the stream the sprightly ring
Lightly trip the dewy plain
Round and round the glow-worm's train,

STROPHE.
Muse, thy sweet assuasive power
Soothes my soul, assailed with grief,
As the soft-descending flower
Gives the sickening rose relief,
When o'er the yellow meads and vales
The madding rage of noon prevails,
And flowers and vivid verdure fade,
And shepherds seek the embowering shade.

ANTISTROPHE.
Thee, to Virtue near ally'd,
No ignoble cares controul;
Scorning pomp, despising pride,
Thine the independent soul.
How dear to love and friendship thou
Of turtle-eye and placid brow,
For feelings exquisitely fine
And truth and tenderness are thine.

EPODE.
While others in adventrous flight
Soar high on Pegasaean wing,
Eager to sound the bloody fight
And red-ey'd war's terrific king.
Give me, amid the lonely grove,
Unseen, unheard, with thee to rove,
Free from anxious doubts and feers,
Far from pride and courtly cares,
Pallid envy, fierce debate,
Calumny, and rankling hate.

[pp. 24-27]